Friday, June 14, 2013

The Disappearing East Coast

random_2
A beetle takes wing.

I've blogged many times on the destruction of the East Coast by the forces of development, on the magical transmutation process by which local lands are seized and transformed into profits for big developers with the apparent connivance of local government officials. A very representative case is the disgusting Miramar Hotel development project just north of Taitung city, but Hualien is also being ravaged by "development". This week it was local Amis people complaining about the county government's surprise annexation of tribal lands...
Karo said he and his neighbors have received a notice from the county government, asking them to tear demolish their homes and move away from a plot of land right on the border between Fenglin and Guangfu (光復) townships. The county wants to build a stray dog shelter on the site.

“I wonder if the county government considers dogs more important than people, so it wants to drive us away to make way for a dog shelter. But is not the government’s job to take good care of its people?” farmer Cunsing Rokateh said. “The problem is we do not have another place to move to even if we were willing to move.”

Namoh Nofu, an Aboriginal rights advocate who is from the area, said that in the past decade, the county government has planned development projects for about 1,400 hectares of land around the border area of Fenglin and Guangfu townships, which is the traditional domain of the Amis villages of Tafalong and Fata’an.

“The development projects include car-racing tracks, a camping park, golf courses, holiday resorts and an ‘eco-friendly industrial park,’” Namoh said. “However, the county government has never consulted local Amis villagers before coming up with the plans. It simply pretends that it does not know these are lands on which the Amis of Tafalong and Fata’an villages have lived for thousands of years.”
A map of the area (source)(GoogleMaps link)

The Taiwan Environmental Information Center put out some information on it:
位於花蓮縣鳳林鎮,馬太鞍溪、花蓮溪、萬里溪之間的沖積扇(Cidihan),雖然目前標的為「花蓮縣鳳林綜合開發計畫-萬榮開發區」,但事實上,長久以來為鄰近的Tafalong(太巴塱)與Fata'an(馬太鞍)等部落傳統世耕地、放牧地和獵場,直到現在,兩部落仍有不少族人在此區域內的Palicanlican、Takomo兩地從事耕作。x

The alluvial fan known as Cidihan in Hualien County between Fenglin Town, the Mataian River, the Hualien River, and the Wanli, has been designated the "Fenglin, Hualien County Comprehensive Development Plan - Wanjung Devleopment Zone". However, for many years the area has been the traditional croplands, grazing lands, and hunting grounds of the neighboring Tafalong (Taibalang) and Fata'an (Mataian).  Down to the present day the two communities still have many tribal people engaged in farming in the Palicanlican and Takomo areas.
According to the TEIR, the Hualien County government's stray dog shelter is merely the camel's nose in the tent. Once the land is actually seized, the government plans to put in -- please swallow what you're drinking so you don't spew it all over your keyboard -- an international Formula 1 race track (no, not kidding) taking up 70 hectares, a light airfield, a landfill, a high tech industrial park and an "international class love dog park" (國際級愛狗樂園). Man, you just can't make this shit up....

The Taipei Times article said that the exact ownership is locally known but has not been formalized. The TEIR piece observed that a spokesman for the local people said that they have never given up their rights to the area. In 2008 they applied to receive protected status but the government has been delaying processing the application. Wonder why.....

Cases like these are only the ones that receive publicity; there are many others. See the East Coast now, over the next couple of decades, it's going to be concreted over....
_______________________
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!

8 comments:

Proliteboss said...

And no doubt it will also be desiganated a UNesco world heritage site and been turned into another sh*t hole like Halong Bay for example

Domenic said...

Even though I should be inured to this kind of thing, it still makes me want to strangle a real estate developer. On the surprise scale, it doesn't even register, though on the gall meter, it's through the roof. Blew the damn thing out. F1??? Dog shelters can be put ANYWHERE! 'this is progress,' and who's against 'progress.' Ah, Joni Mitchell, it is sad sad sad: Pave paradise, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Years ago I joined with a group of artists and Hualien County politicians and the local EPA to fight the placement of tetrapods on Sun An. The concert that I had planned was eventually cancelled due to the threat of bloodshed because of all the Hei Jin the locals had been promised by corrupt officials at the national level--likely in cahoots with the concrete industry. It is very hard to defend the public trust in Taiwan. It takes vocal opposition and the willingness to risk your life at times to defend the beauty of that place. It is worth defending. All the Taiwanese people need to put pressure on their government officials to fulfill their duties in a democratic society. The struggle to combat the way that greed and corruption combine to undermine the ecology of the East Coast is an ongoing one. Wen Dao (formerly of Fireflower)

Carlos said...

I’m a huge Formula 1 fan, so trust me when I say that building an F1 track is a bad idea. The commercial side of the sport is run by an unscrupulously clever man who pits governments against each other, driving up the amount of money they have to pay to buy a spot in the F1 calendar. Demand (governments wanting to host a race) outstrips the number of races they can hold in a year (about 20).

For example, South Korea spent a lot on a new track and hosted the race just three times before deciding that the 7-year contract they’d signed was too expensive for them. The organizers (some public/private group) tried to renegotiate, but with so many other countries wanting to get in, they couldn’t get a better deal.

Half the races are in countries that care about motorsports and have large live audiences. The other half are like the above, combinations of F1 trying to spread itself around the world, and governments trying to buy televised attention. The trouble is, Taiwan would be competing against places like Shanghai, Bahrain, the UAE, and Singapore. The last of those has the race through the city itself; it’s quite a sight, with the giant Ferris Wheel all lit up. Hualien County doesn’t have the same effect. And I’ve seen no indication that Taiwan has any interest in auto racing. Who would go? Or is this a desperate attempt to bring in Japanese and Australian tourists?

That said, if there are any motorsport enthusiasts there, it’d be really nice for them to have a track to rent out. Maybe Yulon could sponsor it.

Carlos said...

More thoughts on F1... televised coverage always shows a lot of the host country's flag. Could that be what's making it attractive to someone there?

And what would they call the race? Each Grand Prix (GP) is named after the host country, but there can never be two with the same name. (When Spain or Germany have had two races, the second has always been called the European GP. When Italy's had two, one was close enough to San Marino so they called one the San Marino GP.) I imagine there are people in Taiwan who'd want to call it the Chinese GP, but there already is one in Shanghai. They're one of the few non-core (not Northwestern Europe, Japan, or Brazil) countries that have some pull over Bernie Ecclestone because of how attractive the Chinese market is, so I imagine they'd complain very hard if there were any chance of calling a Hualien race the "Taiwanese Grand Prix."

Kang Veronica said...

Hello,I used to study in Hualien and loved the natural and beautiful environment.I felt so astonished and depressed to see this article. And I was aware of the fact that Eastern cities in Taiwan are administered by corrupted politicians who are so enthusiastic in plundering and exploiting the natural resource as to bully the aboriginal inhabitants. However, such problem has not been noticed by most of Taiwanese. I feel very worried because Hualien is my favorite city, and I've been dreaming to move there one day. Thank you for the post, and hope more people will begin to pay attention to this problem.

dulan drift said...

Great insights into the sordid world of land development. You're right, it's a massive east coast land grab. And as you mention, the root of the problem seems to be too much power in the hands of small, pliable local councils who are virtually giving away public land to powerful conglomerates. It invites corruption. In fact it's common knowledge that that's how you do it. The east coast is a national treasure - it's fate can't be left in the hands of a few dodgy local councilors - there has to be central govt oversight. Stephen Shen (EPA minister) has critized the system several times - he knows it's wrong - it's time he did something about it.

les said...

It's very hard to go up against the concrete industry when construction shares are what holds up most of the stock market, and the index is doing so poorly. These people will not be satisfied until every square meter of the island under concrete.