The Supreme Administrative Court on Thursday upheld the heritage status of an old movie theater in Changhua County, ending a three-year legal battle between the county’s Cultural Affairs Bureau and the Peitou Township Office, which had sought to build on the site.
“Although Peitou (北斗) is a historied township, the town’s former class 3 heritage site, the Tienan Temple, was demolished. If the old theater was also demolished, the culture, history and shared memory of Peitou residents would utterly vanish,” the court said in its ruling.
The Far Eastern Theater is 65 years old and was built on land that was once the private gardens of a clan of local gentry surnamed Hsu (許).
Photo courtesy of the Peitou Township Office
Hsu Tsung-lung (許從龍) built the township’s private academy, the Magpie House (鵲館), in the ancestral garden after passing Qing imperial exams as a xiucai (秀才) civil servant. It played an important role in educating local elites.
In 1895, Prince Kitashirakawa Yoshihisa quartered Japanese troops at Magpie House during the First Sino-Japanese War, turning the academy into the seat of the regional colonial government.
After World War II, Magpie House became a township memorial park and the township office built the Far Eastern Theater on the site in 1956. The project was 20 percent funded by the township and the remainder was funded by private investors.
For a time, the Far Eastern Theater was the only cinema in the county, but closed its doors in 1997 due to a decline in the movie theater industry.
In response to the township’s plan to knock down the theater for redevelopment, locals in 2014 applied for the site to be awarded heritage status, which the bureau granted two years later.
Disagreeing with the bureau’s decision, the Peitou Township Office that year filed an administrative lawsuit and gathered 10,000 signatures for a petition against the theater’s preservation.
During the first trial, the High Administrative Court ruled against the township and the Supreme Administrative Court dismissed the township’s appeal during the second trial.
The township filed its last appeal in February.
In court documents, the township said that a fire had destroyed much of the theater’s interior and there is nothing special about it, as it is a concrete-and-pebble-finish structure.
The Hsu garden and academy no longer exist. Had they survived, the privately owned structures were not connected to prominent historical figures and therefore held no special significance, it said.
The Supreme Administrative Court rejected the township’s appeal, saying that it had failed to support its arguments with testimony from academics.
The courts had already stated the reasons for ruling against the township, and it did not present new factual or legal issues at the third trial, it said.
Although the Qing Dynasty estate no longer exists, the preservation of the theater as a heritage site would enable county authorities to commemorate its historical relevance, the court said.
Peitou Township Mayor Yang Li-hsiang (楊麗香) said the township has to accept the court’s judgement and the responsibility of utilizing the site now falls on the county government.
“There are no winners or losers in cultural heritage preservation,” bureau director Chou Fu-i (周馥儀) said.
The bureau is to begin deliberations on how to refurbish the theater. Options include an arts and culture center or a theater for elderly people, she said, adding that the bureau will involve the local community fully before making a decision.
Liya Chu (朱如茵), whose parents are New York-based Taiwanese restaurateurs, has been crowned the champion of US television cooking competition MasterChef Junior, after wowing the judges, including celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, with a feast of fusion cuisine. In the finale of the show’s eighth season, broadcast on Thursday, Chu walked away with US$100,000 after serving a spread of spiced duck breast with scallion pancakes and miso eggplant, followed by coconut pandan panna cotta with a passion fruit coulis and sesame tuille. Chu, who was 10 years old at the time of filming three years ago, faced off against then-11-year-old Grayson Price from
A university student has gained the spotlight for an interactive map he designed detailing all of China’s military bases and installations throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Soochow University music student Joseph Wen (溫約瑟), who calls himself an amateur military enthusiast, said he created the map to “help people better understand the cross-strait situation.” Wen originally posted the map online on June 14 last year, but it gained greater attention after he mentioned it during an appearance on a China Television talk show. On the show, Wen said he had gathered information on the locations from publicly available Web sites, as
GLOBAL STRATEGY: Indo-Pacific alliances need reinforcement to prevent Chinese occupation of Taiwan, which would threaten Japan, Hawaii and Australia, Pompeo said The US should officially recognize Taiwan as a free, independent nation and establish official diplomatic ties, former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo told an event at the Hudson Institute in Washington on Friday. Every US president since Harry Truman has considered Taiwan’s existence to be of utmost importance to US national security, Pompeo said. Taiwan is a principal US partner in technology and economic matters, and if China were to capture Taiwan’s semiconductor supply chain, it would severely hamper the US economy, Pompeo said. Should China occupy Taiwan, it would severely weaken US influence in the Indo-Pacific region and its surrounding areas,
Opening-day ticket sales for a horror exhibition at the Tainan Art Museum were suspended twice on Saturday as the show attracted too many visitors. Titled “Ghosts and Hells: The Underworld in Asian art,” the exhibition runs until Oct. 16. It is the local version of a show that debuted at the Musee du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in Paris. It was planned and curated by Julien Rousseau. The Tainan museum said that within an hour of its doors opening, more than 1,000 people had entered the exhibition. By noon, 3,000 physical and virtual tickets had been sold, while the museum had more than 4,000