Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Land Slide

The China Post carried a piece on the proposed frightening amendments to the draft land bill that basically means cement on every square inch of the island:
Articles in draft amendments for the Offshore Islands Development Act and in three newly proposed acts governing the development of aboriginal tribal lands, eastern Taiwan, and the Yunlin-Chiayi special agricultural zone, would only help big companies profit from public land, said foundation chief executive Lee Ken-cheng.

“The bills would sabotage the country's homeland planning and a system based on the law governing state properties. They would impact nearly two-thirds of Taiwan's land, “ if they cleared the legislature, Lee said at a press conference Monday.


Hsu charged that the draft bills were created to “plunder” private land and bypass existing regulations, including the Land Act and State Property Act, that strictly restrict the sale and usage of public lands.

Under the proposed bills, the development of any plot of land smaller than 50 hectares would not need to undergo an environmental impact assessment, and local governments would be given greater power to seize private land through “eminent domain,” Lee said.

You can see how it will work: developers will carve up projects into 50 hectare plots and then say they are too small for an EIA. Then they will build them up to their planned size. This method of subdividing into smaller units is already in wide use in many different ways in Taiwan to avoid taxes and regulation.

The website for Lee's foundation is here. Their piece on the press conference goes into some detail -- the section on the east coast makes for depressing reading. In one case, the Foundation says, the developer has simply ignored the laws and put the hotel foundation in the sand directly on the beach, where the county government protects him by relentlessly putting off the environmental impact assessment. Numerous other hotel projects are slated to destroy the east coast. I guess I better hit that on a bike soon, because in a few years it isn't going to be there.

This bill has been evolving for years. The DPP Administration tried to put together a comprehensive grand land plan for Taiwan but the KMT has zero interest in any such animal. As a longtime environmental affairs observer remarked to me today: "...then everyone would see what they are doing." The bill has not yet come up in the legislature, yet.

In recent weeks major voices have begun to speak out against the bill. For example, Lin Hwai-min, the founder of the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, criticized the government in Feb, saying that economic growth cannot be the goal of government:
"The greatest disappointment of the ROC's 100 years is that the government has never provided a national land planning policy," Lin Hwai-min said.
Daily Links:
  • Dafydd Fell has a wonderful piece at Brookings on the 2012 elections that gives a very balanced and detailed rundown of how things may go. Don't miss it.
  • E-Da world in K-town from Hanjie
  • Taiwan committed to opening its economy further.
  • Taipei Times says the executions hurt Taiwan's international image. Jens at Asia Sentinel notes:
    After the Ma administration resumed capital punishment in April 2010 by executing four criminals on a single day, the EU issued an unambiguous warning that not only the visa waiver but also its long-standing support of Taiwan's bid to join various international organizations was put into jeopardy.

    Catherine Ashton, the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy of the EU and the first vice president of the European Commission, put it frankly in a prepared statement: "The resumption of executions 'acts strongly' against Taiwan's aspirations to join the UN and other international organizations."

    The Taiwanese government apparently took the advice. The EU is the island's fourth largest trading partner and the destination of annually about US$20 billion worth of Taiwanese exports. No executions took place during the remainder of 2010. The EU granted Taiwanese visa-free entry on January 11. Less than a month later, the executions resumed.
    The article also reports suggestions that the executions were timed to appeal to voters in the by-elections down south.
  • The Diplomat: Why Taiwan Matters
  • Gary Locke, our new China ambassador, has guanxi.
  • Taiwan Ethnographic Film Festival
  • High comedy: Global Times opinion piece: Charlie Sheen is not Filial. After all he's embarrassed his Dad, Martin, the President. Take it viral, folks!
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


BigEll said...

He ignored his own father's advice to keep quiet, who was once the president of the US. Sheen is a disgrace, unfilial to his father and his fatherland.

He can't be serious about his dad being the President. LOL

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I dream for an upset presidential DPP win in 2012.