Interior minister hints at no Dapu appeal
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-01-04 03:17 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan said Saturday his ministry might not appeal against the Taichung High Administrative Court verdict in favor of the four families whose homes in Dapu were demolished by the Miaoli County Government.

The former residents said they were likely to file for government compensation while also demanding the rebuilding of the homes at the original site. County Magistrate Liu Cheng-hung became one of the nation’s most unpopular politicians when he sent in the bulldozers last Juy to raze the homes to make way for an industrial park. The owner of a pharmacy which was demolished, was later found dead, believed of suicide.

Lee said the Ministry of Interior, which was the loser in the case together with Miaoli, would first wait until it received the official text of the court verdict before deciding what to do. The MOI would not automatically file an appeal as had been the practice in the past, Lee said. Such a way of handle situations would only harm the public and leave no winners, he emphasized.

There were no plans for direct face-to-face talks with the four households as long as the text of the verdict had not be studied and discussed with the Miaoli County Government, the minister said.

The court ruled Friday that the destruction of the buildings by the county was illegal since the MOI had approved the county project to remove the homes and replace them with the science park without conducting the necessary review.

Speaking separately with reporters Saturday, Lee’s deputy, Hsiao Chia-chi, said the verdict had wide-ranging implications. There were at least 33 cases under review involving the expropriation of 5,345 hectares which might be affected by the handling of the Dapu dispute, he said, expressing fears that problems would erupt regarding compensation payments and the return of land.

The deputy minister expected the verdict to arrive within a week, to be followed by a period of 20 days during which appeals could be filed.

The county government refused to comment until it received the official court document.

The reconstruction of the homes at their original locations was likely to cause traffic problems for the new science park, reports said. One planned road would lead to nowhere, while an intersection with a major existing road would create traffic problems, reports said. The county mentioned the danger of the traffic situation last year as one of its reasons to decide on the demolition of the homes.

The residents could try and sue for compensation from the government, but the procedure was long and complicated and might not end to everyone’s satisfaction, reports said. An attorney for the families indicated that compensation should be paid by the officials responsible for the mistakes, and not by the taxpayers at large.

The owner of a pharmacy demolished last year, Chang Sen-wen, disappeared last October and was found dead drowned in an irrigation canal after an apparent suicide, further enraging locals against Liu. Chang’s widow and son visited the site of the pharmacy Saturday morning, but reportedly expressed pessimism about the likelihood of having their home rebuilt there because it had already been turned into a road.

The movement against the Dapu case and against land expropriation in general gained nationwide support from social activists and celebrities alike, and expanded to include large-scale protests and isolated incidents of protesters throwing shoes at government officials.

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