Thursday, August 8, 2013

Blood and Tears from Huaguang - Protest at Ministry of Justice

The Department of Cultural Affairs of the Taipei City Government decided a month ago that the southern wall of Taipei Prison, the Prison Director's Residence, the Public Bath House and twenty Japanese-style house on the east side of the Public Bath House in the Huaguang Community to be historic.  The Ministry of Justice will not be able to demolish the identified structures at the end of August.  

In addition to the historic sites, a group of volunteers are also working tirelessly to save the plants of the community.  Huaguang Community is said to have over fifty different kinds of plants, including trees as old as eighty years old and is habitat to twenty species of birds.  Since March, twelve of the ancient trees have died.

At the end of July, the remaining residents of Huaguang Community received notice from the Ministry of Justice stating the last round of demolition and eviction will be executed from August 27th to 29th.  There are approximately twenty residents left in the community.

Yesterday, residents and former residents of the Huaguang Community went to the Ministry of Justice to protest the fine imposed on them by the government for "illegally profiting" while residing on government land.  Residents whose houses were demolished in the previous mouths still face large sums of fine.  The residents and former residents either have their bank accounts frozen or have money automatically withdrawn from their accounts.  Mr. Wu, for example, who lived in the community for four decades owned a small tailor shop.  He was fined six million NT for having his small business there.  He now lives with Mr. Chiang (Chiang-bei-bei), who was also a resident of Huaguang but came to Taiwan with the Nationalist Chinese government, in public housing for impoverished individuals.  

Moreover, the Yu family will also be evicted at the end of this month. The second son of the Yu family is the sole breadwinner.  His NT$30,000 (US$1,000) per month salary, has to support four members of his family, which include an ailing father who requires constant oxygen support, an older brother who is mentally challenged and their mother.  The government imposed a two-million-NT dollar fine on this family, and NT$10,000 (US$333) is automatically taken from the young Mr. Yu's paycheck every month.  Without any kind of assistance, Mr. Yu will not be able to afford the NT$13,000 per month rent for public housing while also supporting his family members.  So far, there hasn't been any response from any government agency.  

Democratic Progress Party legislator Tien Chiu-chin was present at the protest.  She demanded the MOJ official, who came to receive the residents' petition, to expedite the request and have the Minister of Justice call her after the petition is processed.  

I've written many articles on the plight of Huaguang Community since I began observing the case in February.  So far, I have not seen any sincere effort from the government to assist the residents, who are tax, bill paying and hard-working citizens of this country.  The residents ended up at the Huaguang Community because of Taiwan and the region's historical past, and the government, under both KMT and DPP administrations, tolerated their residency for decades while collecting business and property taxes, electricity, water and gas money from them.  It's inconceivable to me that a government with a president that constantly lauds the two human rights covenants, the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenants of Civil, Social and Cultural Rights (ICCSCR), would be so indifferent and apathetic toward the neediest group of citizens.  On the other hand, looking at the recent cases of forced demolition and eviction all in the distorted name of progress and modernity, I shouldn't be surprised at all. 

The 94-year-old "Auntie Ai-Jiao", who will be evicted at the end of August
Blood-soaked students carrying heavy loads of fine and interests

1 comment:

Mike Fagan said...

Perhaps if there were a free market in banking in which banks were not compelled into subservience to the regulatory demands of the government, it might be easier to resist this kind of predation. It is remarkable that in spite of Taiwan's large number of banks (over 50?) and the appearance of competition this gives, none of them can offer the market the promise of resistance to the regulatory demands of the government.

Whoever is helping the Yu family (and I hope somebody is helping them) might do well to inquire into cancelling his bank account and switching him over to bitcoin so that the government can no longer touch his money. Any trust fund set up for these people might also be better off in a virtual currency rather than in a regular bank for the same reasons.

If such a fund were to be set up, I'd be willing to contribute and I suspect many more people besides just myself.