The Taiwan Rural Front (TRF) and farmers yesterday protested the passing of proposed revisions to the second reading of the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) and called Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) a “liar” for failing to include certain items into the Cabinet version revisions that they said he had promised.
“When meeting with us in July, Wu promised that he would hold further talks on revisions to the Land Expropriation Act to listen to what farming rights advocacy groups and farmers had to say,” said Liao Pen-chuan (廖本全), an associate professor at National Taipei University’s Department of Real Estate and Built Environment, at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan.
“Months have passed by, and the next thing we heard about the law is that the proposed revisions have been incorporated into the second reading without going through the first reading process,” Liao said.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
Liao, a TRF member, was one of those who spoke to Wu in a meeting at the Executive Yuan where the TRF staged a protest in July.
According to Taiwan’s legislative system, a proposed bill or amendment is introduced to the legislature in a first reading, in which the lawmaker or government official who proposed the bill or the amendment introduces the amendments before it goes to further committee review and debate in a second reading.
A proposed bill or amendment is often a foregone conclusion by the time it reaches the second reading, after which it is sent to the general assembly at the Legislative Yuan for the third reading and a final vote before it becomes law.
“Wu is practically a liar, because he never called a meeting with non-governmental organizations [NGO] as he promised and sent the proposed amendments straight for a second reading on Thursday,” Liao said.
Thomas Chan (詹順貴), another member of the TRF and an attorney who represents farmers and farming activists in lawsuits, agreed with Liao that Wu is a liar, but said it was for a different reason.
“We NGOs also proposed our version of revisions to the law, which included clauses requiring developers to clarify the ‘necessity’ and ‘public interests’ involved before a land expropriation deal could be approved by the government,” Chan said. “We also wanted third-party real-estate appraisers to estimate the value of land to be seized by the government.”
While Wu said he accepted the TRF’s ideas, “none of what we wanted made it into the Cabinet--proposed amendments,” Chan said.
Miaoli County’s Wanbao Self-Help Association president Chen Hsing-hsiung (陳幸雄) called on lawmakers and the government to include clauses proposed by farming rights groups to better protect people’s rights to their lands.
Wanbao Borough (灣寶) of Miaoli County’s Houlong Township (後龍) was one of the farming villages facing government seizure of their land for development projects.
The Wanbao crisis was resolved when the Ministry of the Interior rejected the development project, but Wanbao residents are still familiar faces supporting others struggling against land expropriation.
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