Minister without portfolio-designate Chang Ching-sen (張景森), yesterday apologized for his comments made about a campaign against a controversial urban renewal project in Taipei, but defended valuing the rights of the public more than those of individual property owners when it comes to expropriation and forced demolition for urban renewal.
“I would like to make it clear here that was an inappropriate satirical post, and I would like to formally apologize for it,” Chang said in a 3,000-word statement on Facebook. “As a government official-to-be who will soon be handling public policies, I interpreted the campaign in a scornful way, which does not help enhance communications and would only hurt the feelings of those who took part in the campaign. I must admit this mistake, accept all criticism, and apologize to the public.”
Chang was referring to post he made on Facebook earlier in the week in which he said that a family, surnamed Wang (王), living in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林) who opposed an urban renewal project was eventually given five units in a newly built luxury apartment building, with a market value of more than NT$100 million (US$3.1 million).
The forced eviction of the Wang family from their home and demolition of the property by a city government demolition squad — escorted by about 1,000 police officers — saw violent clashes with mostly student activists siding with the Wangs that triggered harsh criticism from the public.
Chang said that he “pities” the student activists who shed tears for the Wang family.
Chang deleted the post within minutes, but still drew public ire.
Chang also said that, having been an academic specializing in urban planning and serving in several government positions, he upholds the values of city planning to make Taiwan safe, beautiful and comfortable.
“Civic groups that have directly interacted with me know that I am not too different from them in pushing for reforms, but I may be different when it comes to strategy, action, and judgements on priority because of my practical experience,” Chang said.
Chang said that he would always place public interest as the priority of his policy objectives and while he also respects individual property owners’ rights, he would try to persuade them to make concessions to benefit the greater good.
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