The relocation of a temple in Hsinchu County’s Guansi Township (關西) from a mountain slope to a more accessible site has been deemed illegal.
The decision to relocate Shihyeh Temple (石爺廟), built on the slope of Dangpa Mountain (蕩耙山), was made because the local community was concerned about the well-being of elderly people visiting the temple, as the paths leading to it were slippery and steep, former Jinshan Borough warden Hsu Tsung-ming (徐聰明) said.
Township Mayor Liu Te-liang (劉德樑) said the township had not thought that the relocation could contravene the Forestry Act (森林法) and would be deemed an illegal occupation of national property.
Photo: Huang Mei-chu, Taipei Times
The Hsinchu Forest District Office, overseen by the Forestry Bureau, said the temple occupied 71m2 of national property, of which 36m2 belonged to the office and the rest to the National Property Administration.
Liu said he was not ruling out asking the National Property Administration and the office to rent out the property so that the temple could be allowed to stay.
However, the office said that while the law states the land occupied by the temple can be leased out, temples are not among eligible applicants.
Hsu said the temple is believed to have been built during the late Qing Dynasty, after a group of Han settlers — mostly of Hakka ethnicity — en route to colonize lands near the Maoto Village hid under a boulder to escape Atayal hunters.
Other local legends tell of the deity Shihyeh warning villagers of imminent natural disasters. That, coupled with the Hakka people’s existing beliefs, had led to the temple’s establishment, Hsu said.
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