National Police Agency (NPA) Director-General Huang Ming-chao (黃明昭) yesterday vowed to bolster security after clashes between local residents and alleged gangsters at a controversial landfill project in Miaoli County left at least eight people injured.
Huang, together with other police officials, went to the Kunyu landfill site (坤輿掩埋場) in remote Zaoqiao Township (造橋), where local residents have carried on a two-decade protest against project developer Pacific Ecology Co.
Local protesters alleged that the company had hired gangsters to attack them while Miaoli County police who were guarding the site did not protect them.
Photo courtesy of a member of the public via CNA
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hung Sun-han (洪申翰), an environmental advocate, told Huang that he was pepper sprayed in the face and sustained minor injuries when “hired thugs” threw metal objects at him.
He accused Miaoli County police of negligence, alleging that police officers used their riot shields to push back against protesters instead of protecting them, but did not disperse a group of “people dressed in black” — implying people with ties to organized crime — hired by the developer to attack protesters.
New Power Party (NPP) Legislator Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智), who has long supported the protest against what he calls an illegal landfill project, told reporters that several protesters who went to file reports about the incident were allegedly beaten up and kidnapped by “hired thugs.”
After hearing Chiu’s complaint, Huang promised to check with Miaoli County police officials and to protect protesters from further harm.
“Police must do everything to prevent people getting injured in such clashes and deploy more law-enforcement units if needed. We do not condone the use of violence against protesters and will demand that Miaoli County police review all evidence and video footage to identify the perpetrators and prosecute them,” Huang said.
The landfill controversy is shaping up to become a broad political battle, with local councilors and candidates from the NPP, the DPP and the Taiwan People’s Party joining the fight against the project, condemning the Miaoli County Government, which has long been dominated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which has ruled the county since the Martial Law-era.
Just a day before, Chiu, along with NPP Legislator Claire Wang (王婉諭) and other party members, convened a news conference alleging that Hsieh Fu-hung (謝福弘), the KMT’s nominee for Miaoli County commissioner, has close ties to Pacific Ecology.
They also alleged that Miaoli County Commissioner Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌), of the KMT, has long used his political clout and government resources to shield the developer, as well deployed illegal tactics to secretly allow the company to operate the landfill, although it has not passed an environmental impact assessment.
“The protest against the project has been going on for more than 20 years, and the developer has used gangsters and violence to beat up protesters,” Chiu said.
“Local people live in fear all the time. Even late at night, villagers had been assaulted by these hired hands... Where is the county government and local authorities?” he asked.
“It is all due to the KMT, which heads the county government and dominates local politics, and is safeguarding the developer and helping it operate the landfill. Villages in the area and the surrounding environment are being destroyed by these dark forces. We demand that KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) and other top party officials tell the public: ‘What is your stance on this landfill project?’” Chiu asked.
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