Part 1 Refugees Squatting on a Gold Mine
Part 2 This Land is Whose Land?
"For decades, the 12-hectare Huaguang Community (華光社區), which is located in the heart of Taipei, was home to the poor, the elderly and the disadvantaged — until, that is, it became prime real estate. The area will soon be flattened to make way for a glitzy, upmarket neighborhood inspired by Tokyo’s Roppongi district. The process of forced evictions by the central government began a few years ago, and there was no relocation plan for the residents. To facilitate evictions, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), which owns the land, filed lawsuits against residents for “illegally” occupying state properties, resulting in fines to residents that range from a few hundred thousand New Taiwan dollars to several million. Most inhabitants have been forced to leave. Others have died while fighting for their right to stay."The savagery of the government's drive to get the people off the land by defining them them as illegal residents and then slapping them with fines and lawsuits and garnishing of salaries is shocking. These are old people in their sixties, seventies, and eighties, who have been squatting here for decades, many born and raised in the community. Since everyone says that the development will make big bucks, the obvious thing to do is arrange a generous compensation plan and resettle the people in shiny new houses.
Ordinary lower-class mainlanders like these people and their forebearers were in many ways excluded from the Taiwan Miracle. The Taiwanese themselves, limited in their ability to obtain government and military jobs along with important civil occupations in the 1950s and 1960s, turned to manufacturing and developed Taiwan's brilliant miracle economy. Mainlander/KMT elites and their cronies skimmed that wealth in a variety of ways to fund the developmentalist state, party and state-owned corporations, and enrich themselves. But working class and poor mainlanders often lacked the skills, education, capital, and family connections to better their lives. They got by on state rations -- given rice confiscated or taxed away from Taiwanese farmers -- and settled down in squatter communities like Huaguang and other communities now vanished from Taipei. Now the KMT government, in that marvelous bit of alchemy by which public lands are transmuted into private gold, is screwing them.
“I was taught to love my country, but I didn’t know the country I loved was like this,” Cheng Wei-hui says. “It gives money to big corporations and condemns us people to death.”Yes, that's right. This Flickr search (English) and this one (Chinese) will bring up some nice pictures of the community.
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