Thursday, March 12, 2009

Houlong Science Park delayed

Central News Service 09 March 2009 1535 Taipei
Adapted by Wild News Service from the original Hanji

A planned industrial park for Miaoli County was sent by the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee back to a sub committee for further screening by a vote of 7 to 5 with two invalid votes. Miaoli County Commissioner, Liu Chenghong’s presence at the meeting failed to intimidate the commission.

Commissioners said that the information on the cultural surveys was inadequate and although the developer has already done survey work the results of the survey were not disclosed in their application materials. There was also specific mention of the impact the park’s development would have on habitat of the humpback dolphins.

The Assessment Committee members remarked that if the Miaoli County Commissioner felt that there was no need to consult with the landowners who own 51% of the land to be developed he might need to have his head examined. There are over 300 landowners whose opposing opinions have not been dealt with and the committee said that there concerns should be addressed on a priority basis.

The Director of the Taiwan Academy of Ecology Professor Chung Ding-mao pointed out that the agricultural land to be developed is prime land as rated by Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture and the move will impact more than 2000 people. He noted the prospective violence that would be perpetrated against the people in the event the government turns to eminent domain to take the land from the farmers.

Chang Fongnien of the Taichung New Environment Promotion Association and a practicing physician, noted that taking land from people who are working the land is quite a different matter from the simple transfer of land from the Taiwan Sugar Corporation as has been the case in other recent industrial park developments. He noted the watermelon festival held annually in the area as well as the presence of an ecological village, pointing out that in this regard the developer simply said “the development will not affect any protected forest”.

Dr. Chang also cited the harassment of local by police and the local Environmental Protection Bureau for having put out banners protesting the project upon learning of it last November. He said these are examples that underscore the duplicity of the government when it states it doesn’t want to “overdevelop” or that it encourages the participation of the people in decision making.

Commissioner Liu during the meeting said it is all about money and everything else is a “bunch of flatulence”. He said the majority of the people support the project this is just a protest by a small minority.

Comments: Although Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association has a colleague watching this case the author is not that familiar with the situation other than the pattern is identical to what we have witnessed time and again for so called “science park” development. First the government prefers science parks over industrial parks because it is easier to confiscate the land. Second, there are thousands of hectares of vacant land in Taiwan’s industrial and science parks, this project is one of the many “pork” items the Ma/Xiao regime is using to consolidate its power. Miaoli, a predominately Hakka county is also traditionally a very pro Chinese Kuomintang area. A bi-election is being held in this county for legislator on account of the person (Chinese KMT) who’s position will be contested having been convicted and sentence for vote buying. Miaoli long known until quite recently as a major producer of pottery is also the location of historical kilns built during the Japan era. Under Commissioner Liu’s watch history and culture don’t seem to be faring so well. Last week he claimed to know nothing about “any dolphins” near the coast of Miaoli. Not a good sign.

Also see:
Group to take action against local officials over kilns

Miaoli officials caught in a lie

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