The movie Beyond Beauty apparently has had some effect in dramatically portraying the destruction of Taiwan's environment. The public was moved. And so the government responded to this social demand by moving against
Only four of the 134 inns and guesthouses in Qingjing are operating legally, the interior ministry said Thursday, vowing to close down any unlicensed lodgings in disaster-prone areas of the popular mountain resort destination in central Taiwan.No room for negotiation! Gotta admire the toughness of the Interior Minister, ready to take on tiny powerless family owned businesses at the drop of a hat. The article goes on to say another 80 businesses are the subject of investigation because they occupy public land. Hoo boy. Would it be too cynical to wonder if any of the guesthouses are removed, it will be because some big hotelier wants to put in a resort?
There will be "no room for negotiation" over the dismantling of illegal guesthouses in areas of Qingjing with a high risk of disasters as a result of earthquakes and torrential rain, Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan said at a press conference.
The ministry has identified nearly half of the mountainous 498-hectare scenic area as "high-risk" in a push to reduce overdevelopment, following an increase in public awareness spurred by the hit documentary "Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above."
These businesses are not invisible. They did not suddenly appear from an alternate dimension (well, actually they did -- they jumped in from reality to appear in the bureaucratic continuum, briefly, before vanishing back into reality. In Taiwan, problems before the government are like the legendary village of Brigadoon: they appear once every hundred years). These places have been in operation for years with the indifference or active connivance of authorities. Suddenly we're moving on them? Haha.
Anyone who has spent any length of time in Taiwan knows that the following processes of the Scapegoat Cycle will now take place (1) media fanfare with announcement of resolute action (2) a few high profile cases will be prosecuted as scapegoats (3) the others will be ignored and life will go on as usual except for the few unlucky ones until (4) the next time scapegoats are needed.
Well, in fairness, I should add that the government did knock down a bunch of illegal structures in Tayuling on the Hualien side of Hehuanshan. So maybe they might take action....
Meanwhile the real and urgent problems are resolutely ignored and in fact multiplied by government policy. The Taipei Times pointed out:
Executive Yuan Deputy Secretary-General Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) said on Friday last week that Cabinet ministries and agencies have been divided into five teams to work on 16 major issues highlighted by the film, including illegal gravel and sand mining, the build-up of sediment in reservoirs, land subsidence, excessive hillside development and polluted rivers. The teams were told to present an initial report to Jiang within one month. However, Chien said the government “will take a holistic approach and not just focus on the 16 problems.”*sigh*
Yet just two weeks earlier, the Cabinet was steaming ahead with its draft for regional development, the “National Regional Plan,” which would relax regulations on land use, allow small-scale industrial parks to be established without an environmental assessment and streamline application and review procedures for major projects. Critics say the proposal would ease restrictions on development in reservoir areas, farmland and active fault zones.
- 40,000 foreign laborers missing in Taiwan
- Plastics plant investment in Malaysia scrapped. I find it hard to believe that this dog isn't going to enjoy a second bite in Taiwan.
- Taiwan buys $500 million in US wheat annually
- The interesting tidbit in this pro-gambling piece is that the government is considering putting casinos inside the Taoyuan aerotropolis.
- Diplomat: Taiwan should participate in climate change community
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