Land owners and activists yesterday staged a protest at the legislature in Taipei, accusing the government of reneging on its promise and abruptly passing proposed revisions to the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) to second reading without prior discussion.
They also expressed their concern that the Cabinet-proposed revisions might eventually be adopted, as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) enjoys an absolute majority in the legislature.
Following a slew of protests over government seizure of private land for development projects around the country, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) made several promises to amend the Land Expropriation Act, including requiring land developers to clearly state that they are necessary and how the project would uphold public interests.
However, the amendments proposed by the Cabinet did not include such clauses and only aim to change the basis for calculation of compensation for landowners from published prices to market prices.
Landowners and other advocacy groups said the proposed revisions should also include the participation of a third-party expert when estimating the land value.
In a bid to ensure that the amendments are passed before the legislative election in January, the Legislative Yuan — under the KMT’s lead — decided to skip initial discussions in the first reading and pushed the proposal straight into second reading.
“The KMT put the amendments directly into second reading to avoid discussions in the Internal Administration Committee,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan. “With its absolute majority, the KMT could pass the amendments despite opposition, and the expectations of landowners, farming activists and other rights advocacy groups would be sacrificed.”
“While Ma is having his ‘homestay’ tour around the country for his re-election campaign, I invite the president to stay at my house and the homes of all land expropriation victims,” Metro A7 Station Development Project Self-Help Group chairwoman Hsu Yu-hung (徐玉紅) said. “He should stay with us, eat with us, work with us, be treated by us and hear what we have to say.”
The expropriation project is part of the “A7 station of the Taoyuan International Airport MRT development project,” which aims to build affordable housing units and an industrial zone near the temporarily named “A7 station” on the planned Taoyuan International Airport MRT line connecting central Taipei and Taoyuan County.
A tearful Peng Hsiu-chun (彭秀春), a resident of Dapu Borough (大埔), Jhunan Township (竹南), said she was saddened when she received an official notice from the Miaoli County Government informing her that her home was to be taken over for a science park project.
“The house that I live in is the product of a lifetime of hard work by me and my family,” she said. “The legislature should revise the Land Expropriation Act according to the people’s voices, so that no one in this country would live in constant fear of having their property taken away by the government.”
Wang Wan-ying (王婉盈), a resident of Houli District (后里) in Greater Taichung, whose house was torn down to make way for Phase 3 of the Central Taiwan Science Park, said that if the government was sincere about increasing the nation’s self-sufficiency in food, “it should stop taking over farmlands for development projects.”
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