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Old November 16th, 2011, 08:38 AM   #181
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Thu, Nov 10, 2011
Taipower accused of soil damage
Taipei Times

Members of an anti-substation self-help group from New Taipei City’s (新北市) Taishan District (泰山) yesterday said that state-owned Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) is illegally hiding the fact that it is constructing a substation on the Shanjiao Fault (山腳斷層) and causing soil liquefaction.

Holding photographs of tilted apartment buildings seemingly suffering from subsidence, as well as cracked and collapsed road surfaces, the members of the self-help group told a press conference at the legislature that Taipower’s construction of the Taishan Substation has caused damage to the nearby buildings.

Chang Yue-tao (張月桃), head of the self-help group, said her family is worried because their home has tilted about 3cm in only a few months and that Taipower did not do a proper evaluation of the site before it started construction in 2003. Chang called on the company to cease the construction and help repair the damage.

Chang said the geological structure of the land in the area is prone to soil liquefaction because of the high level of underground water and a sandy soil, but Taipower continues to pump water, causing nearby building to subside.

Taiwan Electromagnetic Radiation Hazard Protection and Control Association chairperson Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said the company, in its geological report in 2003 deliberately neglected the fact that the substation is located near the Shanjiao Fault and that the geological conditions indicate possible soil liquefaction.

Liu Shih-ting (劉詩丁), a section chief at the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Central Geological Survey, said the ministry could only confirm that the fault was indeed near the substation, but it did not have data to prove that it was directly underneath it or that it had been affected by the construction.

The responsibility to affirm that fact and prove the structure was safe from earthquakes should be carried out by the developer, he added.

Kuo Chao-kun (郭晁坤), deputy director of Taipower’s Department of Transmission Line and Substation Projects Northern Region Construction Office, said that a substation has existed at the location for many years and the construction that began in 2003 is only a renewal project.

Tsay Ing-sheng (蔡英聖), the head of a construction section in the department, said the office has spent many years communicating with local residents and even assigned four professional civil engineers’ associations to do on-site investigations and evaluations.

The residents were not satisfied with any of the four evaluation reports, Tsay said, so they filed a lawsuit against Taipower and lost. Tsay added that the residents were still unhappy about the results of a fifth evaluation report done by a professional group that they chose last month.

Tsay’s remarks upset a couple of the residents at the press conference, who said they had not received any such notification.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) wrapped up the press conference by asking Taipower officials to prove they notified the residents and to further investigate whether the substation is built on top of the fault.
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 10:04 AM   #182
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Updated Thursday, November 17, 2011
China Post
Sustained demand to ensure Taipei home market stays bullish: CEPD

Taipei's home market is expected to remain bullish, thanks to various positive incentives including the signing of the cross-strait economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA), said Huang Wan-hsiang, vice chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development.

Huang made the remarks during the MIPIM Asia 2011 conference currently being held in Hong Kong.

According to Huang, Taipei home prices have achieved a compound annual growth rate of 13.5 percent over the past 10 years, due to various government measures to stimulate the economy.

Among them were the opening of cross-strait direct flights, allowing Chinese tourists to visit the island, a reduction of gift, inheritance and business earnings taxes, opening the island to Chinese investors, and the signing of ECFA.

He said these factors have prompted the International Monetary Fund to predict the island's growth from 2011 to 2015 will be the highest among the Four Asian Tigers.

Aside from those incentives, the completion of major public infrastructure projects has also helped lift Taipei home prices, he said. For example, with the completion of the Taipei 101 building and the Taipei City Government bus station, home prices in the area surged by 20 percent.

He also mentioned the city's Nangang District, saying the area is full of growth potential.

“Nangang home prices have risen an average 15.8 percent over the past 10 years and 30 percent over the past two years,” he said.

Yen Ping-li, general manager with real estate advisor DTZ, echoed Huang's words, saying Taipei City home prices will continue to rise no matter who gets elected as president come Jan. 14 next year.

“The reason is simple,” he said. “The demand is there, and it will always be there.”

“At the same time, there is a housing shortage. Right now no one is willing to sell their properties, because once you sell them, you'll never be able to buy them back,” he added.

That Asian economies will remain bullish for years to come will also help sustain a growth in home prices, Yen said, adding commercial property rents in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou will grow 5 to 10 percent next year, despite of the global slowdown. Rents in Taipei are expected to grow 5 percent, he said.
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Old November 29th, 2011, 12:43 PM   #183
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Sindian residents protest demolitions for MRT line
‘GIVE US A HOME’:Poor and elderly residents of one of Sindian’s oldest neighborhoods asked for, but did not receive, priority in choosing social housing units
2011-11-29
Taipei Times

About 100 people, including residents of the Shisizhang community in New Taipei City’s Sindian District and their supporters, yesterday clashed with police several times outside New Taipei City Hall as they protested against a development project that would require flattening their community.

“Police are beating up the people,” “Don’t push me,” “Let us go in to see the mayor,” the crowd shouted as they clashed with police.

Emotions boiled over when officers grabbed Shisizhang Self-Help Organization chairman Hung Jen-chung and dragged him away from the crowd to a nearby police car.

Some of the protesters chased the officers, trying to pull Hung back, pushing and shoving officers.

Several protesters were injured in the clashes.

Shisizhang residents were protesting a plan by the New Taipei City Government to level the community to make way for a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station “joint development project,” meaning that an MRT station would be built attached to one or several residential or commercial buildings at the site.

The development model is called a “joint development project” because the government would work with private construction firms.

Shisizhang community is made up of about 40 households, with close to 60 people, most of whom are economically disadvantaged.

“We’re not trying to block the city’s development, we’re merely asking the government to help us settle elsewhere, because once our houses are torn down, we’ll have no place to go,” Hung told reporters at the beginning of the demonstration. “The city government should try to protect our right to shelter and give us priority in renting or buying units in social housing projects.”

Wang Chien Mu-tan, an 83-year-old Shisizhang resident, said she was unable to work because of her advanced age and lived with her 63-year-old mentally challenged son, who is also unemployed.

“I really don’t know where to go if I lose my house,” Wang Chien said. “The city government has promised to give us some compensation if we move out on our own, but that’s really not enough for us to get a new place. Our only incomes now are the NT$3,000 [US$98.50] monthly old-age pension and my son’s NT$3,000 monthly disability pension.”

The New Taipei City Government has promised compensation to Shisizhang residents if they voluntarily move out of their houses tomorrow.

Compensation includes a NT$900,000 disbursement for each house, a moving fee of between NT$80,000 and NT$170,000 per household, depending on the number of people, a house demolition relief pension estimated at about NT$3 million, depending on the size of the house, and compensation for voluntarily moving out, which is 50 percent of the demolition relief pension if the building was built legally and 30 percent of the demolition relief pension if the building was built illegally, New Taipei City Department of Transportation official Wu Kuo-chi told reporters.

Wu later came out to meet the protesters, reassuring them that they would be entitled to full compensation if they moved out by the deadline and saying the city government had included people whose houses are demolished for public construction in a draft bill on social housing already sent to the city council.

“The city government will do all we can to make sure that the bill gets passed in the city council,” Wu said.

However, the protesters were not satisfied because Wu could not give them 100 percent assurance that they would be given priority for social housing units, while the city government would not postpone the demolition deadline.
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Old November 30th, 2011, 11:14 AM   #184
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New MRT line finished ahead of schedule
FAST SERVICE:The new MRT Xinzhuang Line in Taipei was scheduled to come into service in March, but is now finished and could start operating as early as January
Taipei Times
Sun, Nov 27, 2011



The inspection committee looks at Xinzhuang Station on the Xinzhuang MRT line, which is expected to be opened in January, ahead of schedule.
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times

Taipei’s MRT Xinzhuang Line, a high-capacity underground extension of the Zhonghe Line, is expected to launch service ahead of schedule in January as Taipei City’s Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) began its preliminary inspection process yesterday.

Part of the line from Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station to Daqiaotou Station began operating in November last year along with the Luzhou Line. The section between Daqiaotou Station and Fu Jen Catholic University Station was previously scheduled to go into service in March next year.

The department yesterday invited an inspection committee of transportation and civil engineering experts to conduct a two-day inspection of the engineering, equipment installation and operation of the system.

The committee visited the line’s Fu Jen Catholic University Station and three other stations yesterday afternoon and was scheduled to continue its inspection today before announcing their findings.

Committee members were satisfied with the equipment installation inside the stations, but suggested that the department expand the pavement along the stations and improve the overall environment outside the stations.

Taipei City’s Department of Transportation Commissioner Jason Lin (林志盈) said construction of the line was completed in accordance with the construction schedule and the system reliability has reached 99 percent following a system test.

DORTS will conduct a final inspection next month before sending the results to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications for final approval.

According to DORTS, the launch of the line will help ease traffic in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Sanchong (三重) and Sinjhuang (新莊) districts, which have a combined population of about 800,000 people.

After the launch of the 8.2 km section, the commute between Fu Jen Catholic University Station and Minquan W Road Station will only be about 17 minutes, while it is estimated it will take about 24 minutes to travel from Fu Jen Catholic University Station to Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station.
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Old December 2nd, 2011, 10:15 AM   #185
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China aided Taipei’s Games bid, mayor says
Taipei Times
Fri, Dec 02, 2011

Support from China was instrumental in Taipei’s success in winning the right to host the 2017 Summer Universiade, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said yesterday and added that the city would follow the “Olympic model” in handling issues such as the nation’s title and flag.

“The friendliness and support from the mainland’s committee members was a key factor in our success, and the achievement is the result of better cross-strait relations,” he told a press conference at Taipei City Hall.

Saying President Ma Ying-jeou’s cross-strait policies had helped expand the nation’s international footprint, Hau said the city would adopt the “Olympic model” at the University Games as it was the norm in previous games, including the World Games in Kaohsiung and the Deaflympics in 2009.

The “Olympic model” refers to the 1989 agreement signed in Hong Kong that Taiwan would use the title “Chinese Taipei (Zhonghua Taibei)” within the context of the Olympics when participating at the Games.

“We will follow the model as usual in handling the title, national flag and national anthem,” he said.

Hau and a 40-member delegation returned from Belgium yesterday after beating Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, to win the right to host the event at an International University Sports Federation (FISU) meeting on Wednesday.

The 12-day Games will be the largest international event Taipei has ever hosted, after the Summer Deaflympics and the Taipei International Flora Expo last year.

According to Taiwan’s executive committee member in the federation, Chen Tai-cheng, Taipei won the bid over Brasilia by 13 votes to nine.

Taipei’s solid financial plan, professional sports facilities and full political support from the government played major roles in winning the bid, he said.

The central government is set to share the total budget of almost NT$40 billion (US$1.3 billion) with Taipei in hosting the University Games. Hau said the priority during his three-year term would be the completion of six new facilities being built for the event.

The six facilities, including the Taipei Dome, are scheduled to be completed by 2016.

Hau dismissed concerns about preparation work once he completed his second term in 2014 and said with its experience in hosting the Deaflympics and the Taipei International Flora Expo, the city government would host a successful University Games in 2017 regardless of who is in his office.
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Old December 4th, 2011, 12:45 PM   #186
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Is a very unique project.
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Old December 8th, 2011, 05:30 AM   #187
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Sat, Dec 03, 2011
DORTS admits Losheng worries
DEAF AS A POST:Conservationists raised concerns about the geological composition of the Sinjhuang site and the chance of landslides as far back as 2006
Taipei Times

The Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) yesterday admitted that the geological composition of the Losheng (Happy Life) Sanatorium site — currently being used for the construction of a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station and a maintenance depot — is complicated and “hard to predict”, which amounts to a U-turn from the department’s earlier remarks that the site is completely safe.

“In all construction projects, we make assumptions based on survey results before work begins and make adjustments accordingly once work is under way,” DORTS North District Project Office director Wu Pei-jeen said. “Unfortunately, the construction site for the MRT depot and station in the Sinjhuang District of New Taipei City is located on a geological fault, and so the composition is more complicated and more difficult to predict.”

Wu made the remarks amid a protest by about 100 demonstrators outside Taipei City Hall, calling on the city government to stop construction work immediately.

The sanatorium was built in the 1930s to house people with Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy) and isolate them from the outside world, as the disease was once believed to be highly contagious and incurable.

In 2002, the government decided to tear down the sanatorium complex to make way for an MRT station and maintenance depot. However, it was met with strong opposition from conservationists.

A compromise was struck in 2007 to preserve a small part of the original complex of buildings.

However, controversy has continued to plague the project because construction of the MRT station has led to numerous small landslides, causing cracks to form in buildings. Cracks also appeared not only in the old sanatorium complex, but also in a new sanatorium tower built only a few years ago a few hundred meters south of the old complex, conservationists said.

Conservationists with backgrounds in engineering raised concerns about the complicated geological composition of the site, and warned that such a large construction project could be the cause of landslides as far back as 2006. DORTS promised that any such concerns would be resolved with dedicated engineering techniques.

When asked by reporters if DORTS is confident about finding a long-term solution for the problem, Wu said : “I cannot guarantee that such a solution can be found, but personally I believe it will be.”

Asked if the DORTS would abandon the project if it is impossible to find a long-term solution, Wu said he could not answer hypothetical questions, adding “we will have an evacuation plan for the worst case scenario.”

Civil engineer Wang Wei-min, who is a long-term supporter of the Losheng conservation movement, panned Wu’s remarks as “irresponsible.”

“Of course you [Wu] could not care less, because if the project fails and the site collapses, then you lose money or your position,” he said. “But for residents of Sinjhuang and Losheng Sanatorium, they could lose their lives as a result of your mistakes.”

Although the press and the demonstrators had more questions, Wu was escorted back into City Hall by the police.

Unsatisfied with Wu’s replies, demonstrators moved forward, trying to stick signs that read “Losheng SOS” on the entrance to City Hall, clashing with police officers who tried to stop them.

Protestors continued to push forward despite warnings from the police that they were in violation of the Assembly and Parade Act and could be prosecuted.

The to and fro continued for about 10 minutes during which several demonstrators and journalists were injured in the melee. It only stopped when one of the demonstrators collapsed.

“The end of today’s action is only the beginning of a longer campaign until the DORTS responds positively to our safety concern,” Ho Hsin-chieh, a member of the Youth Alliance for Losheng, told the crowd.
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Old December 11th, 2011, 09:12 AM   #188
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Updated Thursday, December 8, 2011
CNA
Shilin Night Market will reopen on Christmas Day

TAIPEI--The Shilin Night Market, a major tourist attraction in Taipei, will get a new lease on life soon, as vendors are scheduled to move back to the renovated century-old original site next week and begin business Dec. 25.

The renovation of the original market site in front of Cicheng Temple in the Shilin district in western Taipei was completed in September and all the tests and interior decorations will be finished before Dec. 13, Taipei Deputy Mayor Chen Hsiung-wen said Wednesday.

After consulting with the Shilin market association, the city government has decided to open the renovated market on Dec. 25, a “lucky day” on the Chinese Lunar calendar, said Chen, who is in charge of industrial development in the city.

“It's a weekend and Christmas — perfect for a festive opening,” he said.

In preparation, the vendors who have been operating temporarily on Jihe Road will start moving back to the refurbished building Dec. 15 in batches and a test run will be carried out between Dec. 15 and 24, he said.

The temporary market site on Jihe Road will be converted into an arts center, the city government said.
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Old December 12th, 2011, 09:41 AM   #189
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Updated Monday, December 12, 2011 0:16 am TWN
The China Post news staff
Taoyuan airport renovations cause fast food ceiling collapse

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport suffered yet another accident when renovations for new flooring caused sections of the fast food restaurant ceiling on the level below to crumple and rain down.

No one was reportedly injured, although the Burger King in the basement below Terminal 1 was forced to shut down for the day.

As Terminal 1 is currently undergoing a facelift, construction company BES Engineering Corporation (中華工程) went to work in the early hours yesterday. The construction work involved removing the old flooring, which caused massive vibrations so strong that the Burger King ceiling in the basement below started to crumble and fall apart.

Other damages include a collapsed kitchen range vent hood, which was found lying on its side. No one was injured as a result, although the sight of the destroyed fast food restaurant did leave morning shift employees slack jawed.

BES Engineering Corporation was held responsible for compensating the Burger King damage, although they could not make up for the loss of one-day business profits after the food chain was forced to temporarily close. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport representatives urged the engineering corporation to be more careful, cautioning them that a similar incident should not happen again.
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Old December 13th, 2011, 04:52 PM   #190
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Tue, Dec 13, 2011
Ground is broken on new affordable housing project
Taipei Times with CNA


New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu, second left, and Premier Wu Den-yih, center, yesterday attend the ground-breaking ceremony for a government housing project in Banciao District.
Photo: CNA


The first stage of a government project to build affordable housing units in Taiwan got off the ground in New Taipei City yesterday.

The units will be constructed in Fujhou Borough (浮州) in Banciao District at a cost of NT$43 billion (US$1.42 billion) and are scheduled to be completed by April 2015. The project comprises 4,480 residential units, ranging in size from 15 ping (49.6m2) to 35 ping, and 138 storefront units.

The housing units will be sold at NT$195,000 per ping and 10 percent of the units will be made available for rent.

The project is part of a government policy to create more affordable housing, said Premier Wu Den-yih, who presided over the groundbreaking ceremony with New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu.

In the next stage of the plan, 3,000 residential units will be constructed in the area near the currently designated “A7” station of the MRT line that is being built to connect Taipei and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Wu said.

“They will provide great assistance to young people who need affordable housing,” he said.

To prevent speculation, buyers would not be permitted to resell the properties within 10 years of purchase, the premier said.

In addition to the construction project, the government would make unused state buildings in downtown urban areas available to young residents for purchase or rent, Wu said.

Young people interested in purchasing such units would have access to low-interest government loans administered by the banks, while those who wish to rent would be offered a government subsidy, he said.
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Old December 16th, 2011, 09:23 AM   #191
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Fri, Dec 16, 2011
2012 ELECTIONS: Aspirants disagree on fourth nuclear power plant: NGOs
Taipei Times Staff Writer, with CNA

All three of the presidential candidates agree that the life of the country’s three operational nuclear power plants should not be extended, but they have mixed views on the progress of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) said yesterday, citing responses they received to a list of environmental questions submitted to all three of the candidates.

Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said she is opposed to the installation of fuel rods in the fourth plant, while People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said the safety of that step would have to be assured, the groups said at a press conference.

However, the candidates were all hesitant to support the idea of an immediate suspension of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project or allowing residents within a 30km radius to vote on the fate of nuclear plants, said Shih Shin-min (施信民), an environmentalist and professor at National Taiwan University.

The Fourth Nuclear Power

Plant has been the subject of much controversy, with environmentalists advocating the suspension of the project before it gets to the stage where the fuel rods are installed. Currently the electrical and peripheral facilities of the plant are being put in place.

“When it comes time to install fuel rods, the government will give it some serious thought,” Minster of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) told lawmakers earlier this year at a legislative committee meeting in response to questions about the safety of the plant.

Meanwhile, the presidential candidates said the operations and life of the three existing plants should not be extended or prolonged, according to the responses made to the 16 questions posed by more than 10 environmental groups.

Representatives of the groups visited the three candidates’ campaign offices on Saturday to present their questions, which covered issues ranging from nuclear safety and petrochemical development to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

At yesterday’s press conference, the groups urged the candidates to step up their nuclear safety policies and to suspend the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, which they called a dangerous facility that could have a catastrophic impact on the environment.

They also called on the candidates to introduce policies that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions to their 2000 levels by 2016 and to their 1990 levels by 2025.

In addition, the candidates should aim for negative growth of water and electricity consumption, the groups said.
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Old December 18th, 2011, 05:20 AM   #192
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Fri, Dec 16, 2011
Taipei Confucius Temple reopens after renovation
THE SIX ARTS:Multimedia installations at the newly reopened temple teach China’s ancient curriculum: chariots, archery, music, rites, calligraphy and math
Taipei Times Staff Writer, with CNA


Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, center, yesterday leads officials in paying their respects to Confucius at the reopening ceremony of the Confucius Temple in Taipei after its reconstruction.
Photo: CNA


After three years of renovations, the Taipei Confucius Temple reopened yesterday with new multimedia simulations of the Six Arts — practical disciplines in ancient China — and dances to honor the Chinese philosopher and teacher Confucius (孔子).

The Taiwanese soap opera In Time With You (我可能不會愛你) has helped younger generations understand Confucius (551-479 BC) and his teachings, especially because several scenes were filmed at the temple, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said at the temple’s reopening ceremony.

Hopefully, the addition of multimedia simulations and movies that introduce Confucius’ life will make the temple an even more popular tourist site for Taiwan’s youth and international tourists, Hau said, adding that the new features will allow foreign visitors to understand Taiwan’s Confucian traditions better.

Hau said he hoped that in the future people would not only think of the temple on Teacher’s Day, a holiday celebrated annually on Sept. 28, the anniversary of Confucius’ birth, which is touted as a time to honor teachers.

The Taipei City Government has budgeted a total of NT$981 million (US$32.31 million) for the renovation and “Confucius revival tourism projects.”

The renovated traditional gardens at the temple were also opened to the public yesterday, and the multimedia simulations allowed visitors to experience the Six Arts. The Six Arts, the basis of education in ancient China, are rites, music, archery, charioteering, calligraphy and mathematics.

Kung Chuei-chang (孔垂長), a 79th-generation descendant of Confucius, also attended the opening ceremony.
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Old December 19th, 2011, 08:08 AM   #193
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Sun, Dec 18, 2011
Taipei Times
EDITORIAL: Property legislation still needs work

Following months of negotiations among lawmakers and real-estate professionals, the legislature passed amendments to three property laws last week to promote the registration of real-estate transaction prices in a bid to make the real-estate market more fair.

However, the negotiations and debates over the amendments were rushed, with the amendments passing just two days before the legislative body went into recess ahead of next month’s elections. However, despite the changes, no one can be sure when real-estate taxes might actually be based on real transaction prices to help curb rampant property speculation.

Indeed, the revisions of the Real Estate Broking Management Act (不動產經紀業管理條例), the Land Administration Agent Act (地政士法) and the Equalization of Land Rights Act (平均地權條例) are a first step in enhancing transparency in the real-estate market.

This is because the amendments require that land administration agents, real-estate buyers and real-estate brokers register the value of property transactions within 30 days of a deal closing. If the parties involved fail to do so or register inaccurate prices, they will be subject to a fine of between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000, according to the amendments, which are scheduled to take effect in July next year.

However, since the amendments state that registered real-estate prices cannot be used as a basis for levying taxes until after relevant laws have been revised and complementary measures put in place, it remains to be seen when and how these amendments will really start combating property speculation.

The most important question for the government is how to proceed from here. The government said it would seriously consider taxing real estate on real transaction prices once a comprehensive databank on transactions has been established, but when will that be possible — five or 10 years from now?

Another issue facing the government, and the public as well, is that although the revisions require the relevant parties to register the actual transaction prices of real estate, they are not the prices disclosed to the public, which are an average of prices for housing units or plots of land within a specific area.

The government and lawmakers have attributed the decision to only disclose average housing prices and average land prices to privacy concerns, but this still creates a transparency problem and will undoubtedly undermine the public’s expectations for fairer prices.

Furthermore, buyers of pre-sale housing units will be disappointed at the government’s failure to improve fairness in the real-estate market because, under the revised laws, real-estate brokers are required to register the actual value of property transactions within 30 days of “their contracts with land developers or construction companies” being closed, rather than within 30 days of “deals” being closed, as stipulated for non-presale projects.

In other words, it will still be hard for the public to find out the real transaction prices of pre-sale housing projects, at least until the expiration of the contracts between the brokers and the developers. As prices of pre-sale homes are subject to market speculation more than those of existing homes, this difference in legal definition has left a lot of room for brokers and construction firms to disseminate false market information to the public.

Disclosure of information about real-estate transactions is the first step in the process of curbing runaway real-estate prices.

People do not know when the government will make its next move, but what they know for sure is that in the foreseeable future any effort to tax real--estate transactions based on real prices will face direct or indirect pressure from corporations and groups with vested interests. Only when the government makes its next move will people know if it is pushing toward “housing justice” with great sincerity or just half-heartedly.
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Old December 20th, 2011, 03:57 AM   #194
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Monday, December 19, 2011 0:16 am TWN
CNA
MRT Xinzhuang line passes final inspection

TAIPEI -- The final inspection of the Taipei mass rapid transit (MRT) Xinzhuang branch line was satisfactory, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said Sunday.

The 8.2-kilometer line, which extends from MRT Daqiaotou Station in Taipei City to Fu Jen University Station in New Taipei City, cuts travel time between the two points by least half, the MOTC said.

From MRT Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station, which connects the branch line and the Luzhou Line, the total travel time to Fu Jen University Station is only 24 minutes, the ministry said.

“The MRT team has done an outstanding job and deserves high praise,” said Chen Yen-po, director of the MOTC's Department of Railways and Highways and chairman of the inspection committee.

Chen also said the branch line had tested well in terms of stability, passing a midnight spot-check that simulated a power shutdown on the system.

As soon as the Taipei City government fixes the 18 flaws pointed out by the inspection committee Sunday, the Xinzhuang branch Line will be ready to go, he said. The problems include four major issues that needed to be resolved before commercial operation of the line could begin, he said.

The city government will announce the exact date for the start of operations, the MOTC said.

The Xinzhuang branch line has seven newly constructed stops, including Taipei Bridge Station, Sanchong Station and Xinzhuang Station.

It is expected to become part of the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport MRT line that is being built to link the capital city to the country's main airport.
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Old December 25th, 2011, 12:04 AM   #195
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Monday, December 19, 2011 0:16 am TWN
CNA
MRT Xinzhuang line passes final inspection

It is expected to become part of the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport MRT line that is being built to link the capital city to the country's main airport.
No, it's not.
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Old December 25th, 2011, 01:19 PM   #196
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Updated Sunday, December 25, 2011 0:09 am TWN
Shilin night mart set to reopen today

The China Post news staff--The Taipei Shilin Night Market, one of the most famous night markets and tourist draws in Taiwan, is set to reopen at an underground but more modern location today.

Vendors already started moving into the brighter and modern facilities on Dec. 15. Some of them continued operating over the weekend to seize business opportunities offered by huge crowds.

They said they will complete relocation this week before Christmas Eve for a grand opening on Sunday.

Officials of the city government and the association formed by the vendors said celebrations will be held and incentives offered to market the beginning of a new era for the popular market.

The new facilities that will welcome the customers are actually located underground of the original site of the market.

The market has been operating on a temporary site for the past few years while the original market location underwent reconstruction.

Some tenants had expressed concerns that moving the famous and popular market back to the old site and underground could make it lose special appeal to customers.

But officials said they are confident that the modern and brighter facilities as well as new equipment like dishwashers and tableware for much improved food hygiene for the wide range of delicacies and snacks will help attract more customers, although the place is a little farther from Jiantan Station of the mass rapid transit network compared with the current site.

All surrounding areas of the night market have been redesigned to ensure smoother flow of the large number of customers and for public safety.

There will be exclusive zones only for pedestrians while vehicles, especially the large tour buses, will be parked in specially assigned districts for arriving and departing customers along major streets in the areas and underground.

Officials advise customers and tourists to take public transport service systems like the MRT and bus to visit the relocated Shilin Night Market to avoid increasing vehicle congestion.

A new Taipei arts center will be constructed at the current site of the night market to become another major tourist attraction in Shilin District.
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Old December 29th, 2011, 09:20 AM   #197
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Updated Tuesday, December 27, 2011 0:13 am TWN
Group petitions Control Yuan over projects

The China Post news staff--Members of the Taiwan Alliance of Urban Renewal Victims and people affected by 15 urban renewal projects in the country yesterday petitioned the watchdog Control Yuan, complaining that the government and developers are preoccupied with an unrealistic urban renewal big dream that is disturbing disadvantaged households.

Acting out an impromptu drama at the entrance to the country's highest watchdog organization, the alliance accused the central and local authorities of giving a free hand to developers keen to make the country's urban renewal policies a gold mine for themselves.

The central and local authorities should have come up with a housing policy that would protect the citizen's housing and property rights, the petitioners said, claiming the authorities have brazenly gone ahead with their ill-conceived policies in hopes of speeding up urban renewal without considering whether the procedures are “reasonable” or “fair.”

Several petitioners claimed they are “prepared for the worst,” vowing to remain where they used to live even if their homes are torn down.

These petitioners are not “nail households,” people who refuse to accept compensation deemed incommensurate with the perceived value of their land and be resettled, but victims of urban renewal, attorney-at-law Joseph K.C. Yeh (葉光洲) said yesterday.

According to Yeh, they are all victims of urban renewal projects and actions against them, such as the subordination of the minority to the majority and “forcible demolition” of homes, are unconstitutional.

Associate Professor and Director Huang Li-ling (黃麗玲) of the Graduate Institute of Building and Planning at National Taiwan University (台大城鄉所), who was on hand to give the petitioner her moral support, said urban renewal has ceased to be a matter of public interest as it has become a “real estate interest.”

A few areas may have become more scenic after urban renewal, but people are complaining in most of these areas, Huang opined, calling on the government to lose no time in amending such a bad law.

The petitioners demanded that the government review the policy of unconditionally and indiscriminately approving proposed surface-area-to-volume ratios, and called for Control Yuan censure and correction of several ill-conceived measures adopted by the Taipei City Government, such as its “a ping for a ping” compensation plan, its “four- to five-storied apartment buildings redevelopment” project, and its “old, run-down marketplaces redevelopment” project.

They also called on the Control Yuan to correct the “supplementary rules adjunct to Article 36 of the Urban Renewal Regulations,” which authorize the demolition of properties by people other than owners and demanded that the central government immediately take over their threatened communities.
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Old December 30th, 2011, 05:22 AM   #198
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Fri, Dec 30, 2011
Home pre-sales decline 11.7% in northern Taiwan
Taipei Times Staff Writer, with CNA

Pre-sales of homes in northern Taiwan dropped 11.7 percent this year from last year, due mainly to the government’s efforts to cool the property market, the Chinese-language Housing Monthly reported yesterday.

The value of pre-sale homes in the north fell from NT$930 billion (US$30.68 billion) last year to NT$821 billion this year, the magazine reported.

The magazine said housing projects that have been on hold in the fourth quarter because of the Jan. 14 presidential and legislative elections might be put on the market after the polls.

Looking ahead, the value of pre-sale homes in northern Taiwan will rise to about NT$900 billion next year, it said, while in Taichung and Kaohsiung pre-sales were expected to remain at this year’s levels of NT$180 billion and NT$120 billion respectively.

However, Housing Monthly’s research chief Ni Tzu-jen (倪子仁) said the low home pre-sale rate in northern Taiwan, which currently averages 40 percent to 45 percent, was likely to continue for the next few years.

Construction companies will have difficulty selling completed new houses, he said.

Nonetheless, interest rates will be the key factor in the housing market next year, he said.

The magazine said the oversupply of finished homes in the north was most evident in the Linkou (林口), Sansia (三峽) and Tsmsui (淡水) districts of New Taipei City (新北市) and near the expressways leading to Nangang Science Park in Taoyuan County and Jhongli City.

The situation also exists in Hsinchu City and Chupei City, the magazine said.
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Old January 11th, 2012, 03:47 AM   #199
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Wed, Jan 11, 2012
Low-cost housing pacts signed
AFFORDABLE HOMES:The 3,960-unit housing project is slated for completion in 2016 and will sell for no more than NT$150,000 per ping, the government said
Taipei Times

The Construction and Planning Agency yesterday signed agreements with four major land developers to start construction of a low-cost housing project near a planned mass rapid transit (MRT) station in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Linkou District (林口).

Pre-sale marketing of the housing project, scheduled for completion in 2014, will begin in June, with each ping (3.3m2) selling for no more than NT$150,000 (US$4,990), the agency said.

The four companies that won the construction bid in July last year are Farglory Land Development Co (遠雄建設), Huang Hsiang Construction Co (皇翔建設), Lih Pao Construction Co (麗寶建設) and Advancetek Enterprise Co (名軒開發).

The 3,960-unit project, which will be built near the designated “A7” station of the MRT line connecting Taipei and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, is the second phase of the “affordable housing” program launched by the agency.

“We have received countless phone calls from people interested in the ‘affordable housing’ program since [the program was launched] last year,” Construction and Planning Agency Director-General Yeh Shih-wen (葉世文) said at the signing ceremony.

When completed, 3,761 of the units will be sold, while the remaining 199 units will be leased out for no more than NT$250 per ping. The units measure between 30 ping and 50 ping in size, the agency said in a release.

The four land developers promised to utilize high-quality materials and adopt green and energy-saving concepts in building the units, it added.

The first phase of the social housing program consists of 4,480 low-cost units that are being built in Fujhou (浮州), Banciao District (板橋), New Taipei City. Construction started in December last year and pre-sales will begin in April this year.

More than 30,000 people have applied for accreditation to qualify as a potential buyer of the low-cost housing units, with more than 7,000 people confirmed qualified. The agency began accepting applications on Dec. 23 last year.

“We expect the number of qualified applicants to total more than 10,000 after the Lunar New Year holiday,” Yeh said.

The agency will launch new “affordable housing” projects in the second half of the year if the number of qualified applicants exceed 20,000 in the near term, Yeh said.
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Old January 12th, 2012, 03:55 AM   #200
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Thu, Jan 12, 2012
Taipei is wasting money on fripperies
Taipei Times

People First Party (PFP) presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) on Friday criticized the Taipei City Government, saying that while it had lots of money to throw at its bid to host the 2017 Summer Universiade, it won’t repay the money it owes the national health insurance system. The city responded by saying that the two matters were different budget items.

From a legal perspective, this seems like good reasoning: Civil servants are not allowed to move funds between different budget items as they see fit. However, if the city government has billions of dollars to throw at the preparations for the Universiade, why doesn’t it consider using that money to pay its national health insurance debt? Or does it actually prefer to sit by and watch as the city’s homeless are forced to sleep in city parks, upsetting city councilors to the point that they applaud clearing the parks with water cannons, instead of using these funds to help the homeless?

If the homeless were to decide to start taking walks at the different sports arenas during the Universiade, and to rest and relieve themselves there, the city would have a big problem on its hands.

The Universiade will gobble up NT$30 billion (US$996 million). Contrast that sum with the homeless people living in the parks in the city’s Wanhua District (萬華), not knowing where their next meal will come from.

The Chinese poet Du Fu (杜甫) wrote: “While the fragrance of meat and wine seeps out from the houses of the wealthy, the bones of the dead lie frozen in the streets.”

While things might not be that bad yet, we are moving in that direction. When the government has money, it does not think to use it to resolve the problems of the disadvantaged, but it does spend it on ostentatious displays of wealth — after the Deaflympics it was the Taipei International Flora Expo, which was followed by the Double Ten National Day celebrations and now there is the Universiade.

In just a few years, the city government has spent in excess of NT$50 billion of public money on such events. One can only wonder how many disadvantaged groups could have benefited from this money if it had been spent on improving social welfare instead.

It is of course true that the government must give comprehensive consideration to all aspects and cannot only pay attention to some groups or certain specific aspects, so it is only reasonable that it sometimes organizes various other activities. However, there is the matter of prioritizing what is important and urgent over less urgent matters — money should go to the areas where it can resolve the most problems. Only then should any remaining funds be spent on those other, hugely expensive, activities.

Spending everything on grandiose events that leave nothing once they are over instead of showing concern for increasingly serious standard of living problems might bring a government temporary praise, but not so in the long run. Wasting public funds will only empty city coffers and increase public debt, which will have a negative effect on future policy implementation and infrastructure construction.

It is difficult to understand why the government continues to behave unrealistically and waste public funds when the economy is in the doldrums and that public debt is building, while constantly talking about clean government, frugality and saving money.

The government’s function is public affairs management and wealth redistribution focused on building an equal society. I wonder how many leaders would pass muster if we were to evaluate the performance of governments at all levels based on these standards.

Hsu Yu-fang is associate professor and chairman of Sinophone literatures at National Dong Hua University.

Translated by Perry Svensson
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