Sunday, March 08, 2015

Tzu Chi finally facing the heat? =UPDATED=

Tea farms in Nantou.

SETV has a report on complaints about Tzu Chi, showing their Tanzi operation, which is right by my house. I have long wondered when the Buddhist charitable foundation was going to face criticism from locals.

Criticism was sparked in Taipei over a land deal in Neihu. The Taipei Times reported:
Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation owns 29 plots of land in a geologically sensitive area in Taipei, and it might have exchanged benefits with a private firm during its acquisition of the land, an environmentalist said yesterday.

A dispute is raging between environmental groups, including Treasure Our Land, Taiwan — a nongovernmental organization — and Tzu Chi over the foundation’s request to set up a logistics center and a factory on a 4.4-hectare plot of land in Neihu District (內湖).
Ko Wen-je, Taipei's iconoclastic mayor, seems to have declared himself in opposition to the construction-industrial state in all its manifestations. Buddhist Master Shih Chao Wei, recently criticized for being seen being bused around in a massive Benz which she says is a friend's, sharply criticized Ko for his comments on the project, objecting to him describing it as a "development project." Others, however, pointed out...
Tree Party policy director Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said that environmental groups oppose the project because it would set a poor precedent, opening the door for large corporations or those with influence to expedite approval for use of land in environmentally protected zones.

He said the Tzu Chi Foundation had sought to have the project approved as an individual case, without considering the wider impact it would have and that it has refused to have the project undergo an environmental impact assessment.
Because I live next door to the hospital shown in the video, and the mother of the founder lives down the street from me, along with her adopted brother, and because my neighborhood is flooded with Tzu Chi volunteers every Sunday who cut the grass in the vast field shown in the video, I will not publicly comment on Tzu Chi.

UPDATED: Another one out today asserting based on the EPA EIA that the Tanzih complex is located right on a major fault. This simple map shows the fault line running right next to the hospital complex on the NE side of Taichung.

UPDATED: with the translation of the SETV report (article) on Tzu Chi's land development issues.

UPDATED: Solidarity again with a translation of a dissection of Tzu Chi expenses.
Daily Links:
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!


Anonymous said...

It's been astonishing to watch one soldier of the establishment after another run into the buzzsaw that is Ko and his online supporters. Something the English-language press hasn't gotten into (too hard to culturally translate, perhaps) is the weeklong controversy over whether this NT$330k glass figurine depicting someone looking over the planet and blessing it like a god is of Buddha or of Master Cheng Yen.

Anonymous said...

Tau-Chi uses its enormous clout to make a few people very, very rich. It is a massive financial black box that can route and wash assets of some of Taiwan's wealthiest and dirtiest citizens.

Whether the founder is aware of this may be debatable, but an audit of Tzu-chi and access to the donor rolls would undoubtedly shed light on another means through which Taiwan's underworld figures manipulate the game in their favor.

Mike Fagan said...

"With the Shihmen Reservoir at its second lowest level ever..."

The current water level at Shihmen reservoir in historical terms is an outlier value and is not representative of what is happening elsewhere.

The water level at Tseng-wen reservoir has dropped by approximately 3 to 4 meters between February 8th and March 8th (personal observation: I was just there today, and was at the exact same spot on February 8th). But it still has an awful long way to go yet: I have previously seen that reservoir reduced to a trickling stream through a vast plain of squishy mud-flats stretching from one shore to the other which you could have walked across.

Mike Fagan said...

Incidentally, the Taipei Times reports its' current volume at 45.9 million tonnes and cites this as a "quarter" of capacity. That would put Shihmen's current capacity at only 184 million m3, which is somewhat over two-thirds of its' original effective capacity of about 250 million m3. That's actually not too bad considering what happened to it during the freak 1964 typhoon, and the half century of service it has already given. As things stand there is remedial work planned for Shihmen reservoir which aims to restore it to close to its' former capacity, whilst also adding new capacity in the form of an adjunct reservoir in Hsinchu county.

People always talk about the need to repair and replace pipes, and the point is valid as far as it goes - of course pipes must be fixed and replaced as necessary, but the thing is - pipes are like well-worn and especially vulnerable mountain roads in that they are in need of almost constant fucking repair, except that unlike roads they are more expensive because they are underground. So any comparison between reservoirs and pipe repairs in terms of costs and volumes of water saved must take into account the fact that fixing pipes is not a one-off fixed cost in the way a well designed reservoir is (e.g. Baoshan 2), but rather a constant drain on the annual budget.