Several civic groups yesterday protested outside the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) in Taipei, calling it the “construction companies’ agency” and “accomplice” in real-estate speculation which sacrifices the public’s interests to benefit contractors.
“The CPA is undoubtedly an agency for construction companies and for real-estate speculation,” Taiwan Association for Human Rights executive secretary Wang Pao-hsuan (王寶萱) told reporters.
“The controversial expropriation projects in Dapu (大埔) [Miaoli County] and the Taoyuan Aerotropolis were all decided in this building behind me,” she said, referring to the agency’s offices.
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
The Taoyuan Aerotropolis project initially only required about 1,000 hectares of land, but “in five years, land designated for expropriation has grown to 3,000 hectares,” Wang said.
She added that the project was approved by the agency during the tenure of former director-general Yeh Shih-wen (葉世文), who is under investigation for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for approving several development projects, while former National Taipei University of Technology professor Tsai Jen-hui (蔡仁惠), who allegedly served as a middleman between Yeh and construction companies, was a member of the review committee that approved the project.
Peng Yang-kai (彭揚凱), spokesperson for the recently launched Housing Movement, said that while the CPA is one of the government agencies in charge of housing policies and is supposed to help solve the housing problem, “it is only creating more problems.”
Peng said that the demand for housing is high, but the agency has been focused on pushing urban renewal projects that would turn old apartment buildings into expensive luxury apartment complexes that not many can afford to buy.
“After encouraging speculation in Taipei and New Taipei City, the CPA is now doing it elsewhere — the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project is an example,” Peng said. “Not long after, we may have ghost towns with housing complexes that no one lives in — like those in China.”
Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal president Peng Lung-san (彭龍三) agreed, saying that the government should be concerned about the right of abode for all — and not about increasing property values.
“Decades ago, when I purchased the place where I now live and run my small scooter repair shop in Taipei, it only cost about NT$1 million [US$33,000],” Peng Lung-san said.
“However, with the urban renewal projects going on, property prices [in the area] have soared to about NT$1 million per ping [3.3m2] — and yet, the government continues to push for more urban renewal projects,” he said.
He added that the calling the CPA the “construction companies’ agency” is appropriate, because when the agency approves an urban renewal project initiated by a construction firm, it needs to help expropriate the land, demolish the original buildings and deal with the legal issues when needed.
“A construction company may make tens of billions of NT dollars from [an urban renewal] project, but neither the government nor the ordinary people would get a penny out of it,” Peng Lung-san said.
The groups ended the protest by sticking signs onto the CPA’s signboard, changing the name of the agency to “construction companies’ agency.”
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