Saturday, February 28, 2009

Green Party Candidate Climbs Tree to Stop Tree Cutting

Calvin Wen in the tree.

Our developmentalist state scored a double whammy with the big new BOT project at the site of the Songshan Tobacco Factory, not only killing rare plants and animals but also plowing under another Taipei historic site. As of this morning, Calvin Wen, the Green Party candidate for Da-an, whom I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of weeks ago, is still ensconced in a camphor tree on the site to prevent it from being cut down:
The Songshan Tobacco Factory was established under Japanese colonial rule in the 1930s. In 2006, the Taipei City Government signed a contract with the Farglory Group to build a 429,000m² dome complex at the site in a build-operate-transfer project with a budget of more than NT$23 billion (US$695.9 million).

The complex, to be completed next year, will include a 40,000-seat indoor multi-function sports stadium, a department store with restaurants and movie theaters, a luxury hotel with a business center and an office building.
This project is important because, with our booming economy, there simply aren't enough luxury hotels, restaurants, and department stores in Taiwan. Especially in Taipei.

The article goes on to note:
After the factory was closed in 1998, thick vegetation has grown at the site and it has become a habitat for many rare species. As the contractor yesterday went to remove the last tree on the construction site, Green Party Taiwan members and local residents rushed in to save it.

Green Party Taiwan secretary-general Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲), party member Robin Winkler (文魯彬) and Parents’ Association chairman Yu Yi (游藝) from Guangfu Elementary School were arrested for trespassing and disturbing the peace.

However, Calvin Wen (溫炳原), the Green Party Taiwan candidate for the Da-an District legislative by-election, stopped workers from removing the tree after he climbed the 15m camphor tree.

“I’ll get down as soon my demands are met,” Wen told dozens of police officers, firefighters and construction workers.

“You should wait for the court rulings and the results of the second environmental impact assessment to come out. You should respect the legal process,” Wen said at the site.

Although the construction project has already passed an environmental impact assessment, a second assessment is required, as Farglory made some changes to the project.

The Executive Secretary of the Complex said that it was not illegal for construction to continue with the changes. Note that environmental impact assessments have never stopped a project in Taiwan, and lack enforcement and monitoring teeth.

Winkler said in a morning email that Wen was still up the tree after 20 hours, and that he was not arrested, but merely removed from the premises.

REFER TO: BOT projects in Taiwan, Environmental Impact Assessments in Taiwan


Anonymous said...

The environment means nothing in Taiwan. It's just a resource to pillage and make money. Both the DPP and KMT should hang their heads in shame at their environmental records. They talk the talk of sustainable development and the reality is pollution and pandering to whoever wants to build on land.

Anonymous said...

i like green. place to get sheap drugs, to see homeless, to enjoy a quicky(fast fuck), and good ol' picknick.. that idiot of constructors have no respect for old trees and nature. they sucks ever when you kick their kids because their father cuted down whole green in yo quater.

Anonymous said...

There is no respect for rule of law these days. This parallels Taipei City vs Ministry of Health. Taipei City owes the central govt a large amount of money (I believe $150 million US) in health insurance fees, this was upheld by the courts, and Taipei City land was ordered to be sold to pay for it. But the current Prime Minister, Liu Chaoshuan says, no, you don't have to pay it back, and there are no consequences.

It's unbelievable. The land has not undergone a second environmental review and it is goddamn ILLEGAL to proceed with destruction.

Another similar case happened in Miaoli where they destroyed porcelain furnaces (those really old brick smokestacks you sometimes see) that are a significant part of Taiwan's cultural heritage. We are in great danger of losing the techniques we still have knowledge of to history. It's crazy; it too was undergoing environmental review when the Miaoli county govt decided to move in in ambush surprise like fashion and knocked down the towers.

Yeah, because Taiwan doesn't have enough Science Parks and the tech industry in Taiwan is booming.

David said...

This incident is a perfect case study of everything that is wrong with the police and government in Taiwan.

Adam said...

We are very excited about the Green Party and Calvin Wen. We live in Hsin Yi, which is close,but we can't vote in Da Ann-I can't vote anywhere, but my Taiwanese wife can.

chung said...

Thanks for this report, Michael.
I linked this page to the facebook group: support the green party, to let green parties in other countries know what is going on here.
Welcome to join the group!

Willy said...

Yeah.. Let's go Green Party!!!

Maybe the future of the Greens in Taiwan lies with the Green Party, not with the morally bankrupt legacy of Chen's DPP.

只是我一個平凡老百姓的想法.. But who wouldn't like a fresh start after right?

Maoman said...

Heh. My wife saw this on the news yesterday and said that now she knows who to vote for. "At least the Green Party knows what they believe in!"