The Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday said they would abide by the High Administrative Court's order to halt all expansion activities on the Phase 3 Zone Development of the Central Taiwan Science Park, but then launched into an explanation as to why the court's decision was wrong and warned of the negative consequences of the court's decision.
Yeh Jiunn-horng, director-general of the EPA's planning department, tried to explain the EPA's position by using this analogy "Like a housing project that passes an impact assessment and the developer begins construction...Three years later, the environmental impact assessment becomes invalid, the building becomes illegal and all the tenants have to move out. More cases like this will happen. I can assure you that the Central Taiwan Science Park would not be the only one."
Yeh Jiunn-horng's comments tend to highlight the fact that the EPA seems more concerned with facilitating so-called "development" projects on behalf of large corporations than fulfilling its mandate of protecting Taiwan's environment.
With the legacy of a one party dictatorship and almost 40 years of marshal law, many of Taiwan's government departments have a legacy of being nothing more than rubber stamp bodies for the cabinet. Certainly, even the judiciary has been manipulated in the past. However, with the coming of democracy, many within the judiciary have tried to move in the direction of a real independent judiciary. Many within the government don't seem to understand what an independent judiciary is all about and struggle to comprehend that the judiciary isn't just there to do the governments bidding and must rule in favour of the government each time the government demands that is does.
The EPA has been accused of ignoring court rulings and due process. Many projects have gone ahead under extremely dubious legality. The Hushan Reservoir and old Songshan Tobacco Factory projects to name but two. In the case of Hushan, the then EPA Minister even overruled his own environmental impact assessment commission's ruling and allowed construction to go ahead.
The EPA's policy has appeared to many to be one of allowing projects of dubious legality to go ahead so that by the time the courts are able to rule on the issue, the project is a fait accompli. When a project begins under very dubious legality and later the law demands that it is halted the developer and the EPA have no one else but themselves to blame for the losses incurred. These developers know that they are engaged in projects of dubious legality and forge ahead because there is a legacy of being able to get away with it. Lets hope the courts are able to turn the environmentally-devastating Central Taiwan Science Park expansion into a very costly white elephant so that it serves as a very strong warning to unscrupulous corporations, the EPA and those in the government that want to sell out Taiwan's natural environment for a quick buck.
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