Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yunlin County Assembly Head Found Guilty of Battery of Robin Winkler during Formosa Plastics Steel Plant Meeting

On 9 October 2008 the Taipei District Court found Yunlin County Assembly head Su Chin-Huang (蘇金煌) guilty of battery against Robin Winkler (文魯彬), director of Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association (a member group of Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union http://taiwansousa.blogspot.com). The incident occurred after a dispute in the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) last November during a meeting for the proposed Formosa Plastics Steel Plant (台塑鋼鐵) on land to be reclaimed within the habitat of Taiwan’s resident humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis.

Caution: If you can see a dolphin in this photo, it would be in your best interest not to say so: Photo taken at Mailiao by Shichu Yang.

At the meeting, where several participants presented information on the harm that Formosa Plastics had brought and could yet bring to Yunlin County’s society, natural environment and economy, Mr Su suddenly raised his voice to deny the presence of humpback dolphins in the coastal waters in which the project would take place. (Video footage, photographic evidence [see above] and scientific publications {e.g. Wang et al., 2007} clearly demonstrate the presence of the humpback dolphins in the waters near the Formosa Plastics Mailiao Industrial Zone.) Su made threatening remarks and later followed Winkler to the EPA tearoom, where he proceeded to physically assault him.

Environmental groups and others aware of the corruption, manipulation and violence that pervades Yunlin, where Formosa Plastics and the mafia are said to be closely connected, have joined Winkler in protesting against this culture, which puts at risk the lives of those who speak out for its human and nonhuman victims.

However, following the death of former Formosa Plastics chairman Wang Yung-Ching (王永慶) earlier this month, the national and international media grossly neglected the darker aspects of Wang’s legacy, instead hailing him almost unanimously as the “God of Management” who brought only great things to Taiwan. Journalists with a little investigative skill might have bothered to ask the children in the schools in the surrounding area who have been forced in the past to wear masks to ward off pollution-induced headaches; the aquaculture farmers operating on nearby mudflats who have seen their harvests fall or fail since big industry arrived; and the countless numbers who continue to leave Yunlin in search of work and a more meaningful existence, contributing to the considerable population outflow from Yunlin in recent years.

For the background and details of the November 2007 incident, see “Yunlin County Assembly Head Su Chin-Huang Found Guilty of Battery of Robin Winkler during Formosa Plastics Steel Plant Meeting” on the Wild at Heart blog.

Also see:
Update on the case of Yunlin County Assembly Chief's battery of Robin Winkler during a Formosa Plastics Steel Plant Meeting-Dec 2008

Second Investigative Hearing into Assault against Wild at Heart Director at Meeting Involving Humpback Dolphins

Protesters accuse the EPA of protecting big business

Environmental activists denounce EPA

Wang, J.Y., S.-C. Yang, S.K. Hung and T.A. Jefferson. 2007b. Distribution, abundance and conservation status of the eastern Taiwan Strait population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis. Mammalia, 71, 157–165.

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