Thursday, March 03, 2011

We don't need no steenkin' rule of law!

Three events, apparently unconnected, but a common thread runs through them: the government's contempt for rule of law and little people in favor of big operators. First, a court ruled that the government had to suspend operations in the Central Taiwan Science Park, where a bitter struggle has been waged between environmentalists and farmers on one side and the EPA and the National Science Council on the other:

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said it would appeal a ruling yesterday by the Taipei High Administrative Court to stop a third-phase development project at the Central Taiwan Science Park.

This latest development came in the wake of a series of reversals since 2008, when the court annulled an approval by the agency’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee for the project. In September last year, the committee reapproved the project, a move that residents and environmentalists said they would seek to reverse.

In yesterday’s ruling, the court ordered that the science park halt execution of the project on the grounds that it had yet to undergo a second review by the EIA committee. It said failure to conduct such a review would put the health of area residents at risk.

However, AU Optronics Corp (AUO), the nation’s second-largest LCD panel maker, and Sunner Technology, both of which had established centers in the park, would not be required to cease operations because the court overruled an appeal to stop issuing construction licenses and other development permits to those companies.

In other words, the government finessed the ruling to evade the spirit of the court's ruling: the farmers had protested that pollution from manufacturers in the park, who have been operating anyway, without government oversight, was affecting their health. The farmers sued to put a stop to that. The farmers won in court, and the government promptly appealed the suspension with the claim that it only suspended government activities in the park such as construction of roads and other infrastructure. The private businesses, whose pollution the farmers had been attempting to stop, could thus continue their unchecked dumping of waste. The EPA intervened on behalf of the polluters to totally overturn the spirit of the ruling.

The second event was also imbued with the same spirit of lawlessness. David on Formosa chronicles it, with video and translation:

On the evening of 26 February a group of Taiwanese university students in Taipei went out to show their support for the Jasmine Revolution in China. While attempting to cross the road they were blocked from crossing by a group of plain-clothes people claiming to be police officers. The video embedded above shows the incident. The Taipei Times has also reported on the incident.

The students involved in the incident have established the “226 Students Self-Help Group” (226學生自救小組) and have created a blog, Facebook page and YouTube channel. I have translated the description of the event from the 226 students’ blog below.
As I am fond of pointing out, the closer Taiwan gets to China, the farther from democracy it becomes. The Taipei Times editorialized on it today. Those alleged gangsters who guarded Beijing envoy Chen Yunlin the other day were simply a reminder of the true spirit of this rapprochement between the KMT and the CCP, as well as a signal of one of the most important beneficiaries of the new cross strait agreement: big organized crime.

The third event is a bill now wending its way through the legislative process to open the East Coast to industrial development. The bill creates a set of special rules for this "development" process which suspend the normal operations of the land and land use laws that offer legal and administrative protections. It also clears the way for transfers of state-owned lands to big business. Note that this "development" isn't going to be environmentally or socially appropriate -- just more of the same crap we've come to know and love on the west side of the island.
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.


MJ Klein said...

in Taiwan, EPA = Environmental Pilfering Agency.

Okami said...

Rule of law in Taiwan, the place with 情理法? Surely you must jest. The reality is that anything at anytime can happen to you and you will be screwed. I've seen it, heard it and have had it done to me.

The reality is that the decision allows Taiwanese officials to say they did something and the appearance of having done something without having done anything. This way they can say and do one thing while in reality accomplishing goals that make them look good and give them lots of face. One of the most important things you can do in such situations is to muddy the waters so that neither side can claim the moral high ground. They've done a pretty good job of it, too.

In Taiwan, moneys equals might. As you'll notice in Beowolf how the king traded all those useless golden rings for all those useful sword arms. The same holds true in Taiwan as well, they just use officials instead.

FOARP said...

Really hope they don't open the east coast up to heavy industry. Some resource extraction there makes sense, but the coastline and hinterland there is, in my humble opinion, one of the most beautiful places on Earth - particularly Taroko. Really they should be expanding the national parks there, not proceeding with its industrialisation.

FOARP said...

Also have to say that I deprecate this talk of general Taiwanese "lawlessness". Taiwan is no more and no less "lawless" than many other comparable middle-ranking developed societies (like Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece). Check out the rule of law rankings in the reports here: