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Old August 21st, 2010, 07:36 PM   #61
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Groups call for improved accessibility for disabled
Taiwan lags other developed countries in wheelchair accessibility
For its 1 million people with disabilities, the simplest task can be tough

19 August 2010
Taipei Times

Despite the growing interest in outdoor activities and government efforts to improve hiking and cycling facilities, such pursuits remain a faraway dream for many people with disabilities.

"Some things may be easy for people without a handicap, but for those who are physically challenged, they are rife with difficulties," said Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chieh-ju, who organized a public hearing on accessibility at public places.

Chen, whose son has multiple mental and physical disabilities, said her son's difficulties in doing such seemingly simple things as exiting the Taipei Railway Station and taking a shower in a hotel were in evidence during a trip to Kaohsiung last week.

"The hotel we stayed at - a top-class hotel, whose name I'm not going to disclose - does not have any accessible rooms [for individuals with disabilities]," Chen said. "He couldn't even take a shower on his own because there were no facilities to accommodate people in his condition."

When they returned to Taipei on the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) and needed to go through areas administered by the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) at the Taipei Railway Station, Chen found that the elevator was shut down.

"We asked THSR employees for help. They said the elevator was under the TRA's jurisdiction, so they couldn't do anything about it," she said. "Only after I told TRA employees I'm a lawmaker did they finally turn the elevator on."

Chen's isn't an isolated case.

Association of Spinal Cord Injury Taipei member Huang Hsin-yi, who relies on a wheelchair, said there are road blocks at the entrances of most hiking and cycling trails in national parks and scenic areas.

"They said the road blocks are there to prevent scooters from entering, but they also block wheelchairs," Huang said.

When her organization took a group of about 40 people on wheelchairs to a hiking trail along the northeastern coast, she said, "volunteers, and even coast guard members, had to carry the wheelchairs over the road blocks."

Liu Chun-lin, a father of two children who need wheelchairs, said it was no small irony that his children could only move around without trouble when abroad.

Last year, Liu and his wife took their children to Japan, and this year they visited Austria and Switzerland.

"Public facilities in those countries are quite mindful of people with disabilities," Liu said. "Though Taiwan is a developed country, we need more than just economic development."

"There are so many scenic areas around the country, but for those who are physically challenged, they can only visit those places in their dreams," Access for All in Taiwan project manager Chen Ming-li said at the hearing.

Ministry of the Interior figures show that there are more than 1 million people with disabilities in Taiwan, with as many as 36 percent of senior citizens having physical disabilities because of age, he said.

"These people are just like any other citizens. They deserve more from the government," Chen Ming-li said.
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Old August 23rd, 2010, 02:04 PM   #62
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Forum in Taipei anticipates future rise of mega cities
23 August 2010
Taipei Times



Participants in a forum in Taipei on Saturday highlighted the importance of technological development for the competitiveness of a global city and previewed a future trend - the rise of mega cities.

The future of a modern city has a great deal to do with its technological readiness and how tech-savvy its residents are, according to experts in various fields, including a social media Web site founder, a political candidate in the year-end Taipei mayoral election and an Internet guru.

"Of all the cities I have visited, I have seen some that have prospered because of their advanced technological development and I have seen some that have faltered," said Alvin Yoon, founder of Plurk - one of the most popular social media Web sites in Taiwan - at the forum organized by Business Next magazine.

Yoon said that Taipei's Easy Card was one of the best innovations for a resident in everyday life because it can be used not only on almost every public transport system but also in libraries and designated stores, an innovation that had left him with a good impression.

According to the World Economic Forum, Taiwan's Networked Readiness Index ranked No. 11 in the world and third among Asian countries this year.

The world is also embracing a trend toward the rise of mega cities, said Rebecca Chang, a former general manager of Google Taiwan. She said that the mayor of a mega city would be expected to have at least the same - if not more - impact than a head of state in the future.

The reason for this is simple, she said, because according to estimates, more than 70 percent of the people on Earth will live in urban areas in the future.

Chang said she was cautiously optimistic about Taipei's future as a technologically advanced metropolis, as the city ranked No. 39 in the Global Cities Index 2010 released earlier this month by US-based Foreign Policy magazine, and because Taiwan has always been one of the most successful countries in developing information and communication technology.

Su Tseng-chang, the Democratic Progressive Party's candidate in the Taipei mayoral election in November and an avid user of social media sites such as Plurk and Facebook, said technology and the Internet have changed the face of modern politics.

Citing the example of US President Barack Obama, who is seen as the most successful political candidate to have run an election campaign on the Internet, Su said political candidates now are able to communicate with and mobilize voters, as well as receive donations online.
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Old August 24th, 2010, 09:42 AM   #63
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Quite a lot of fuss for a gas station :

Taipei City miffed at court ruling
18 August 2010
Taipei Times

The Taipei City Government yesterday said it regretted a Supreme Administrative Court ruling allowing the construction of a gas station near the National Palace Museum, saying it would call on the central government to protect national treasures and residents from pollution that would be caused by the planned gas station.

The gas station project on *Zhishan Road, which is about 400m away from the museum, was suspended in 2007 after the city government revoked the construction license of the builder, Gsharp Corp.

The builder later filed a lawsuit against the city government for "illegitimate obstruction" of the project, with a court ruling earlier this month that the project should proceed. The ruling cannot be appealed.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin yesterday defended the city government's opposition to the project and said it would take action against the ruling by seeking assistance from the Ministry of Finance's National Property Administration, which owns 86.3 percent of the land.

"The city government acted against the project in response to a request from the museum. Local residents also opposed the gas station. It is my obligation as Taipei mayor to protect national treasures and we will not give up the battle," Hau said at Taipei City Hall.

Gsharp Corp first applied to build a gas station in 2001, but its plan was rejected by the museum. The company then acquired a construction license from the city's Department of Urban Development in February 2007 after several rounds of negotiations with the National Property Administration.

The city government revoked the company's construction license in November 2007 by zoning the land as a park and banning any construction projects.

The company filed a lawsuit against the city government seeking recovery of the construction license and NT$100 million (US$3 million) in compensation, both of which it obtained after the ruling earlier this month.

Commissioner of Taipei City's Law and Regulations Commission Yeh Ching-yuan yesterday accused the museum of failing to provide enough evidence to defend its rights.

"The museum representative said the museum didn't have an opinion on whether the gas station should be built ... The museum's inconsistent position and its passive attitude toward the issue are unfortunate," he said.

Hau denied any mistakes or negligence in the decision-making process, but declined to comment on whether the city government would pay the compensation.
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Old August 25th, 2010, 11:44 AM   #64
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NPM branch opening delayed
SEVEN YEARS: Government officials said the facility won't be able to open for years to come, although the Executive Yuan has not made the official announcement
25 August 2010
Taipei Times

The eagerly awaited southern branch of the National Palace Museum (NPM) will not open in 2012 as planned, breaking one of President Ma Ying-jeou's campaign-trail promises.

The Taipei Times has learned that the 70 hectare development in Chiayi County has been so fraught with design miscalculations, cost overruns and bureaucratic delays that its opening has been pushed back at least three years.

Government officials have confirmed that it will be at least another seven years before the facility, complete with two lakes and artistic, ecological and cultural areas will be opened.

The museum said the delay was due to a number of factors, including concerns about flooding in the area and problems with the project's two major contractors.

"We did our best to stick to the [timetable]," National Palace Museum director Chou Kung-shin said. "And if it weren't for Typhoon Morakot or the design issues, the [branch] could have opened by 2012."

However, local officials said Ma's pledge was made in October last year, two months after the typhoon struck. It was made as he campaigned for a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate in the county ahead of last December's local elections.

The decision to reschedule the opening came after county officials met with Council of Economic Planning and Development staff on Wednesday last week. It has not been publicly announced, pending approval from the Executive Yuan.

The postponement of the opening is the latest in a long line of holdups for the NT$7.93 billion (US$248.3 million) development, first announced by then-president Chen Shui-bian in 2003. The original design, which called for a multi-functional museum responsible for research, display, education and storage, was supposed to be finished in 2008.

The delays have upset county officials, who have been counting on the museum branch to boost tourism. The county government has finished construction on four new roads and a pedestrian sidewalk around the building site.

"We are still waiting for Ma to cash in his election check. Otherwise we expect him to come down to Chiayi personally and explain to the people here why this museum cannot open on schedule," Chiayi County Commissioner Helen Chang said.

It could be a long wait.

Both the NPM and the council have given conflicting information on who is responsible for holding a second round of tenders on the construction project, after the previous winners became embroiled in a contract dispute with the government.

NPM officials said the Executive Yuan delegated tender authority to the Ministry of the Interior's Construction and Planning Agency last November, a claim agency officials reject.

The original designers, Antoine Predock Architects and Lord Cultural Resources, which is the world's biggest cultural professional practice, lost their contract because of cost and construction overruns in 2008, Chou said.

However, a source at the Chiayi County Government knowledgeable about the dispute said the problems were due to continual demands by the NPM for changes to the original design.

"The National Palace Museum and the contractors did not part on happy terms," the source said.

Antoine Predock Architects has designed several museums, including the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which is scheduled to open in Winnipeg in 2012, the Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma, Washington and the Danish National Archive.

Lord Cultural Resources has helped develop the strategy and management for scores of museums around the world.
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Old August 26th, 2010, 10:50 AM   #65
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DPP pans new urban renewal plan
The DPP has said the green spaces created would be turned into high-rise buildings after 18 months, benefiting only construction companies

26 August 2010
Taipei Times

Taipei City's latest urban renewal program will create a 6.3 hectare green space and improve the city's landscape, the Taipei City Government said yesterday, denying the plans will greatly benefit private land investors.

The "Taipei Beautiful" program, one of Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin's policies to beautify the city for the upcoming Taipei International Flora Expo, includes the demolition of over 600 old or abandoned buildings owned by the city government.

Owners of old buildings that are located within 500m of major tourist attractions and transportation hubs can enjoy a "bulk reward," or be granted extra floor space of three to 10 percent of their land when they develop the site, if they agree to turn the buildings into green spaces for at least 18 months.

However, the program has drawn criticism from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for offering the rewards to private construction companies. According to DPP Taipei City Councilor Huang Hsiang-chun, the city's Buildings Administration Office has approved 80 urban renewal applications, creating over 20,000 ping (66,000m2) of land and *potential profits totaling over NT$12 billion (US$390 million) when the the bulk reward up to 10 percent is included.

"After 18 months, the park areas will all be turned into high-rise buildings after the expo. The city government and the construction companies are the only ones that benefit from the program," he said.

Land previously owned by a private Christian organization in Tianmu, for example, was purchased by Huaku Development and turned into a park under the program. The company will build a 30-story apartment complex on the land after the 18-month period.

The Chinese-language United Daily News' previous office building on Zhongxiao E Road was also demolished last year and turned into a park after the news group applied for the program. The *temporary park will become a high-rise building in 2014 in accordance with the news group's plan.

Taipei Deputy Mayor Lin Chien-yuan yesterday denied helping private enterprises make profits if they chose to utilize the program, and insisted that the program would push for the demolition of old buildings in the city.

"Without the program and the incentives, no one would want to replace old buildings. Over 50 percent of the approved cases are for publicly owned land, and we do not give out bulk rewards easily," he said.

Lin said the program will attract more than NT$12 billion in investment while beautifying the capital, but acknowledged that there is a lack of plans to prevent private investors from using the program for land speculation.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 06:07 PM   #66
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Construction near National Palace Museum banned
28 August 2010
Taipei Times

The Taipei City Government yesterday announced it would ban the construction of all public infrastructure around the National Palace Museum as part of an urban renewal plan, putting an end to the controversial construction of a gas station nearby.

Under the new regulation, public construction projects on a total of 159 hectares of land around the museum between Taibei High School, Zhishan Road and Soochow University would not be allowed for at least two years.

Ting Yu-chun, commissioner of Taipei City's Department of Urban Development, said the regulation was proposed to comply with the museum's plan to redesign the area as a cultural park over the next two years, and the Executive Yuan approved the regulation yesterday.

While the museum finalizes the urban renewal project, all buildings and construction projects are to maintain their current conditions. Privately owned land only accounts for 2.6 percent of the area under the new regulation, so it would have a limited effect on the public, he said.

The city government's move is believed to be aimed at the construction company building the suspended gas station project, Gsharp Corp, whose construction license for the gas station on Zhishan Road was revoked by the city government in 2007.

The company filed a lawsuit against the city government for "illegitimate obstruction" of the project, with a court ruling earlier this month that the project should proceed. The ruling cannot be appealed.

Gsharp Corp slammed the city government for its flip-flop attitude by granting it the license in 2007 and then rejecting the license later the same year, and has asked for the recovery of the construction license and NT$100 million (US$3 million) in compensation.

Ting said the new regulation did aim to terminate the construction of the gas station, but the main purpose behind the regulation was to keep the area untouched for possible changes in the future after the cultural park project is finalized.

As to the compensation the city government was asked to pay, Ting said it would negotiate with the company to settle the matter.
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Old September 1st, 2010, 12:33 PM   #67
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Sanatorium cracks lead to protests

FIGHTING MAD: Residents in the historic buildings say they will not make any compromises and leave their homes, which they defended from demolition in 2007

By Mo Yan-chih
STAFF REPORTER
Wednesday, Sep 01, 2010, Page 2


Supporters join residents of the Losheng Sanatorium in Taipei County’s Sinjhuang City at Taipei City Hall yesterday to protest about damage caused by subway line construction, and for their right to go on living in their homes. PHOTO: LIN SHU-HUI, TAIPEI TIMES

Chanting “Return justice to *Losheng Sanatorium and protect residents’ safety” in front of the Taipei City Hall, several dozen activists yesterday demanded the city government ensure the safety of 35 sanatorium residents after the construction of a MRT depot caused cracks to form in the residential buildings.
The cracks have continued to appear since May in 32 sanatorium buildings preserved for the current residents, said the protesters, who included members from the *Losheng Youth Alliance. The cracks proved that the geographic condition of the site was too fragile to build the MRT Sinjhuang Line’s maintenance depot on, they said.

Controversy surrounding the preservation of the sanatorium, a historical site built in the 1930s to house people with leprosy, surfaced when the city government’s Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) planned to tear down the buildings to make way for the depot in 2003.

Yielding to continuous protests from residents and activists, the Executive Yuan’s Public Construction Commission in 2007 agreed to preserve 39 buildings and rebuild 10 elsewhere after construction of the depot was completed.

After the cracks appeared in the walls and floor of the buildings, DORTS suspended construction on Aug. 13 to inspect the condition of the buildings and planned to evacuate the residents to a temporary location for safety concerns.

Sanatorium resident representative Lee Tien-pei (李添培), who is in his 80s, slammed the city government for ignoring their rights and safety over the years and said the residents would insist on their right on to stay in the current buildings.

“All of the residents living in the sanatorium are in our 80s or 90s, and it is very sad that after all these years, we still have to fight for our rights. However, we will not give up. We will not make any compromises and leave our home,” he said.

Demanding an apology from Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) for approving the construction project, the protesters almost broke into a physical fight with police when *trying to enter city hall.

The protesters also demanded that DORTS offer a solution that would not require residents to move to another location.

Taipei Deputy Secretariat Tan Gwa-guang (譚國光) said DORTS already invited engineering groups to conduct assessments on the geographic condition and safety measures on the site.

The construction will not resume until the assessment report was released next month.
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Old September 8th, 2010, 07:29 PM   #68
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Tsai criticizes Chu MRT policy
The KMT Sinbei City hopeful said Tsai Ing-wen was knocking his transportation plans because she can't find a reason to oppose MRT construction

7 September 2010
Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate for Sinbei City Tsai Ing-wen said she would not try to compete with the splashy election promises made by her opponent on the construction of new MRT lines because they were "unrealistic" and unlikely to happen.

"To be honest, the chances of [Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate] Eric Chu actually carrying them out aren't high," she said during an election event in Shulin City yesterday.

"It's very possible that he only brought the [policies] out because of this election," she said.

Chu announced in July that he would quadruple Sinbei City's MRT system by creating 10 new MRT lines, including three new circular networks, if elected in November. He promised residents that by 2020, construction would either have started or be completed on 80 new stations and 100km of new tracks.

Expanding on the election promise yesterday, Chu said the multi-billion NT dollar plan, which involves a mixture of heavy, medium and light rail connections, would not pose a problem financially because of his previous efforts in his capacity as vice-premier prior to the nomination.

Instead, he accused the DPP candidate of standing against his proposal "simply because [Tsai] can't find a good reason to oppose MRT construction," adding that he did not believe it was the right attitude for a potential future mayor.

However, Tsai said that if coordinating central government funds for Sinbei City's MRT construction was as easy as Chu claimed, "any former premier would have finished it long before."

"He wouldn't have waited until his tenure as vice-premier, which only lasted a couple of months," said Tsai, who also served as vice-premier under former president Chen Shui-bian. "Based on common sense alone, [Chu's] scenario is not a plausible one."

This was not the first time the two candidates have sparred on transit policy, an issue that forms the cornerstone of Chu's campaign. Previously, Tsai's campaign also supported accusations by DPP lawmakers that the KMT candidate had broken his promises to build at least four new MRT lines during his time as Taoyuan County commissioner.

Chu has insisted that his proposal is based on solid financial ground and is part of a long overdue plan for Sinbei City, the country's most populous municipality. In addition, he has promised greater public transit integration with neighboring Taipei City, where the head MRT office is located.

Tsai projects a less ambitious MRT construction schedule but one that would include incorporation with Bus Rapid Transit lines, saying that it would be a more thought out policy that took into account better regional development.
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Old September 20th, 2010, 09:40 AM   #69
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Old September 30th, 2010, 06:47 PM   #70
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High Court orders review of Xinsheng Overpass case
By Rich Chang / STAFF REPORTER
Taipei Times
Tue, Sep 28, 2010

The Taiwan High Court yesterday ordered a lower court to revise its decision to release two suspects in an investigation into allegations of overpricing for a highway improvement project by the Taipei City Government.

Taipei prosecutors on Sept. 8 requested that former New Construction Department director Huang Hsi-hsun (黃錫薰) and Join Engineering Consultants employee Lee Mei (李媺) be detained, but the Taipei District Court ruled that Huang could be released on NT$500,000 (US$15,900) bail and Lee on NT$300,000 bail.

The court barred the two from leaving the country.

After prosecutors appealed the decision, the Taiwan High Court yesterday asked the district court to re-examine whether to detain Huang and Lee.

The court said statements by Huang, Lee and Chen Chih-sheng (陳智盛), the former section chief of the New Construction Department, who has been detained since Sept. 8, were contradictory and created suspicions.

As a number of suspects and witnesses have yet to be questioned, Lee and Huang could conspire with them if they are allowed to walk free, the Taiwan High Court said.

The district court is expected to hold a hearing into the case within days.

The NT$1.3 billion Xinsheng Overpass scandal is part of prosecutors’ investigation into exorbitant prices paid by the Taipei City Government for flowers to be planted under the highway.

In some cases, the prices paid for flowers were about 30 times the normal market price.

The New Construction Department was also accused of paying 12 times the normal market price for water pipes used in the overpass project.

The investigation follows a complaint lodged by a group of Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors alleging possible negligence of duty and possible acts of bribery by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) relating to the project.
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Old October 11th, 2010, 04:31 PM   #71
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Activists express doubts about impact of smaller biotech park on wetlands
Writer Chang Hsiao-feng likened Academia Sinica's plan to build the development project on the nearby 202 Arsenal to stealing your neighbor's chickens
29 September 2010
Taipei Times

Environmental activists yesterday expressed doubts about a government plan to halve the size of a development project for the National Biotech Park at the 202 Arsenal in the Nangang District in Taipei City, saying it would still threaten an ecosystem that was carefully preserved for decades.

Writer Chang Hsiao-feng yesterday urged Academia Sinica to drop its plans to construct the biotech park at the 202 Arsenal, adding that the move was a wrongful deed akin to "stealing chickens from your neighbors," a parable she quoted from the writings of Chinese philosopher Mencius.

The 70-year-old Chinese-*language writer has been campaigning for the full abandonment of the development project to preserve wetlands in the area. Bowing down during a TV interview, Chang called on President Ma Ying-jeou to spare the wetlands by keeping the status quo.

"What he [Mencius] said is that stealing a chicken is wrong. It is wrong even if the thief says he only steals one chicken each month," Chang said, adding that Academia Sinica was like a thief who likes to steal chickens from its neighbor - in this case, 202 Arsenal.

"This development project is plain wrong," she said.

Academia Sinica only chose the property of the 202 Arsenal to build the Biotech Park as a matter of convenience because the arsenal is right next to the institution, she said.

"As the nation's top research institution, Academia Sinica owns many plots of land," she said. "Why does it have to be this place? Can't they build it in Linkou in Taipei County instead?"

She said that the Ministry of National Defense did not have to relocate the arsenal, as doing so would cost billions of NT dollars.

Chang toured the area with reporters, government officials and experts recruited by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA). Aside from Chang, who was on her third visit, many were first-time visitors to the arsenal, which is a military restricted zone.

The ministry said the area frequently draws wildlife, including Formosan Blue Magpies. Visitors could also see several egrets flying around the meadows and ponds, an indication that the area was a well-preserved ecosystem.

Academia Sinica president Wong Chi-huey said on Monday the academic institution had made adjustments to the development plan. He said the area to be used by the project had been reduced from 9.6 hectares to 4 hectares, adding that construction would take place at the sites already used by the ministry to build factories and offices.

Under the revised plan, the total floor space for the biotech park would be reduced from the initial 247,500m² to 122,100 m². As a result, the construction costs would drop from NT$27.02 billion (US$859 million) to NT$22.28 billion.

In a briefing at the EPA yesterday, Wong shed light on why the institution had chosen this *particular site.

"The research on the biotechnology is conducted separately by the Department of Health, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and National Science Council," Wong said. "We can integrate the sources by placing all the facilities in one location."

The location must be convenient for researchers, he said, adding that it would be difficult for them to carry out their work if they were far from the university, their families and their students.

Taiwan Green Party Secretary-General Pan Han-shen said an alarming message would be sent if the project's environmental impact assessment passed the EPA evaluation.

"This [the project] is like the first domino, and once it falls, the next one in line will fall too," said Pan, adding that Taipei City was planning to erect a 100 hectare corporate headquarters in the same area.
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Old October 13th, 2010, 09:20 AM   #72
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Losheng activists, police clash
Activists accused the city government of lying, saying it had vowed a full investigation into the sites safety before starting construction of the depot
12 October 2010
Taipei Times

Dozens of activists clashed with police in front of Taipei City Hall yesterday as they protested against the construction of a mass rapid transit (MRT) depot, which they said had caused cracks to form at the Losheng Sanatoriums residential buildings.

Wearing yellow headbands that read Losheng and shouting step down, mayor and come out and speak, mayor, the demonstrators including students, Losheng residents and activists from the Losheng Youth Alliance pushed and shoved against police guarding the area. Several protesters fell to the ground and suffered minor injuries.

The protesters said that cracks had appeared and spread since May in 32 sanatorium buildings preserved for current residents, who included members from the alliance. The cracks are proof that the site was too fragile and not suitable for building the MRT Sinjhuang Lines maintenance depot, they said.

The demonstrators accused the city government of lying and demanded that Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin provide a full explanation. They said the city had promised to halt construction of the MRT line until it had completed an investigation report and geological experts had assessed that the area was safe for construction.

However, the construction has gone on, which shows that the government does not care for the safety and well-being of Loshengs residents, the protesters said.

Controversy surrounding the preservation of the sanatorium, a historical site built in the 1930s to house people with Hansens Disease, surfaced when the Taipei Citys Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) presented plans to tear down the buildings to make way for the depot in 2003.

Yielding to continuous protests from residents and activists, the Executive Yuans Public Construction Commission in 2007 agreed to preserve 39 buildings and rebuild 10 elsewhere after construction of the depot was completed.

After cracks appeared in the walls and floor of the buildings, the DORTS suspended construction on Aug. 13 to inspect the condition of the buildings and planned to evacuate residents to a temporary location amid safety concerns.

MRT North District Project Office director Wu Pei-jeen told the protesters that the MRT office had conducted at least four geological surveys since 1992, and that a report aimed at investigating the cracks that started to appear in May was in process and would not be finished until April next year.

Wu said that although cracks had indeed appeared in the buildings, the MRT office would find ways to ensure that construction at the site was safe and would repair the buildings.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 04:30 PM   #73
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Taipei City demolishes last Ketagalan temple
Taipei Times
Thu, Oct 14, 2010



Despite its official listing as part of a cultural site and strong opposition from local residents, Baode Temple (保德宮), the main religious center of what is perhaps the only remaining Ketagalan Aboriginal community in Taipei City, was torn down yesterday by demolition workers, protected by police.

“We’re not leaving! We’re not doing anything wrong! We’re here to defend the temple!” residents from the Fanzaicuo (番仔厝) community — administratively known as Fengnian Borough (豐年里) — in Beitou District (北投) shouted.

The protesters stood in front of the altar as police tried to clear the way for workers to flatten the temple, while dozens of other residents filled the temple.

When the residents refused to leave, police officers removed them by force, sparking clashes.

After realizing that their protest would not sway authorities, the residents asked to be able to remove statues of immortals and other sacred items from the temple.

“We are here to demolish the building so we can return the plot of land to its owner [Shixin Senior High School],” said Wang Pen-yuan (王本源), an official from the Shilin District Court, who oversaw the demolition process. “This is based on a verdict handed down in court and the case is closed.”

Admitting that the land belongs to the school, borough chief Cheng Kuo-hua (鄭國華) said the school had agreed to let them use the land decades ago.

“Unfortunately, we trusted their oral promise and did not sign any documents. As such, we can’t really do anything legally against the decision to take back the land,” Cheng said. “However, I don’t understand why they can’t wait a few days to give us time to take care of everything before taking back the land.”

Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs declared the community a “cultural site” in 2008 because of its “historical background.” However, a department official, Michael Teng (鄧文宗), said yesterday the declaration only covered religious statues and items inside the temple, “not the temple itself.”

Although the Ketagalan once inhabited most flat areas from Taoyuan to the northeast coast, Fanzaicuo is probably the only Ketagalan community to have retained its tribal identity in Taipei today.

The name of the community, Fanzaicuo, means “House of the Savages” in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese). In the past, the term fanzai, or “savage,” was commonly used in Hoklo to describe Aborigines or foreigners.
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Old October 18th, 2010, 12:59 PM   #74
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Local residents protest Songshan airport noise
STILL WAITING::Residents in the Datong and Zhongshan districts of Taipei said only 5,092 of 100,000 households in the noise control zone have been compensated so far
By Shelley Shan / Staff Reporter, Taipei Times
Tue, Oct 12, 2010
Residents living close to Taipei Songshan Airport protested outside the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday, saying the government should compensate them as quickly as possible for tolerating noise caused by landing and departing aircraft.

The protesters, led by candidate for Taipei City councilor Chen Teh-sien (陳德賢) of the Taiwan Solidarity Union, were mainly from Datong (大同) and Zhongshan (中山) districts. They said the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) had promised it would compensate 100 households living in the designated noise control zone every year by installing soundproof facilities.

“There are about 100,000 households located in the noise control zone,” the protesters said in a statement. “However, 10 years have passed and only 5,092 households have been compensated.”

The protesters said decibel levels measured by the CAA at selected locations were much lower than those measured by the residents themselves. They said noise pollution would be much higher when direct flights between -Songshan and Tokyo’s Haneda airports are launched later this month.

“The noise from the airport has caused long-term damage to the residents’ health,” Chen said. “Taipei City’s Department of Environmental Protection is responsible for executing the installation of soundproof facilities and should not pass the buck. It obviously has colluded with the CAA by only recognizing the standards that the CAA set for giving out compensation.”

The EPA said it would soon organize a meeting which the CAA and residents could attend to talk about solutions.

“We will focus on two things. One will be the actions taken by the CAA to reduce the noise generated by aircraft landing and taking off and the other will be to see if there is any other way to make soundproof facilities available sooner,” said Hsieh Yein-rui (謝燕儒), director of the EPA’s Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Department.

Hsieh said compensation for noise control was funded by aircraft landing fees paid by the airlines using Taipei Songshan Airport. To facilitate the installation of soundproof facilities, the Department of Environmental Protection has divided the residents into three categories based on decibel measurements. Those living in the Category III area, which has a measured decibel of 75 or above, will be given priority, followed by those in the Category II and Category I areas respectively.

EPA statistics showed the CAA has yet to finish the installation of soundproof facilities in Category III areas.

“In the past, Songshan could collect aircraft landing fees of about NT$100 million [US$3.25 million] per year,” Hsieh said. “The launch of the high-speed rail service hurt domestic flight services badly, which in turn caused the landing charge to drop drastically to approximately NT$30 million per year.”

The CAA said the locations where noise levels were measured were determined by the CAA, the department as well as local residents and, therefore, cannot call the shots.

Statistics from the CAA showed that approximately NT$1.5 billion has been spent on noise control between 2000 and this year and NT$900 million was used for the installation of soundproof facilities.

A total of 5,165 households in the noise control zone are qualified for compensation for soundproof facilities. So far, 50 have yet to have them installed, the CAA said.
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Old October 20th, 2010, 02:34 PM   #75
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CAA earmarking NT$60bn for new Taoyuan terminal
Taipei Times
Wed, Oct 20, 2010

Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Director-General Yin Chen-pong (尹承蓬) said yesterday the agency was planning to spend NT$60 billion (US$1.9 billion) building the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport’s third terminal, which is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

Yin said the construction of the terminal was proposed as the nation gears up to become one of the important aviation hubs in the Asia-Pacific region.

Saying that several organizations have estimated that the region would see growth in flight passengers in the near future, Yin cited the UN’s World Tourism Organization as an example, which said it estimated last year that the number of outbound passengers in China and Southeast Asia would increase by an average of 5 percent to 9 percent over the next 20 years.

Boeing Co has also forecast that passenger flight services in Asia would account for 41 percent of the global market by 2028, up from 32 percent last year, he said.

Boeing said last year that the passenger flight market in China and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region would grow by an average of 5.4 percent per year in the next two decades, which was higher than the global average of 5.2 percent, Yin said.

The CAA also estimated that flight passengers at Taoyuan International Airport would increase from approximately 21.6 million to 45 million by 2020 and could rise to 58 million by 2030.

“When we estimated the growth of flight passengers, we did not just take into account the increase of the cross-strait flight passengers,” he said. “We have considered the opportunities that could be brought by the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement [ECFA].”

According to the CAA’s preliminary plan, the nation will spend about NT$60 billion constructing the key infrastructure, including the third terminal, boarding areas, airport ramps and a people mover system.

The construction is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

Among the CAA’s plans are a satellite concourse that would allow passengers to complete their check-in before arriving at the terminal, which would cost additional NT$20 billion, it said. Another NT$7 billion will be invested in building auxiliary facilities, such as the ground transportation center, it added.

The Taoyuan Airport Co, which is scheduled to be established next month, will carry out the construction project, Yin said, adding that the government funding would account for only 20 percent of the total construction costs.

The Executive Yuan is now reviewing the master plan for the new terminal, he said, adding that the plan also must be reviewed again by the Council for Economic Planning and Development before the guidelines for execution could be drafted.
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 05:56 AM   #76
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the airport has started to leak due to the heavy rains...

also La Meridian in XinYi is almost finished, and the new W Hotel should open up soon...
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 06:01 AM   #77
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I recall Le Meridien should open this month and W will open by year-end.

Think the typhoon is quite bad so I'm not surprised the heavy rain will cause leaks. Is it T1 or T2 though?
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 01:02 PM   #78
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T1 i think
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Old October 26th, 2010, 05:20 PM   #79
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Su says wrong choices were made for Wenhu MRT Line
25 October 2010
Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei mayoral candidate Su Tseng-chang yesterday accused the Taipei City Government of bungling the MRT -Wenshan-Neihu Line, saying the design was poor and that it was a mistake to adopt a medium--capacity system and build some sections above ground.

Su, who was opening his campaign headquarters in Neihu District, said the city government made the wrong decisions and promised to examine the design of the line and improve its quality if elected.

In light of the rapid development of the Neihu and Nangang areas both of which are serviced by the MRT line a high-capacity system should have been adopted, he said. We are now paying a big price for the wrong decision and sometimes such wrong decisions can be worse than corruption.

Planning for the line took place when President Ma Ying-jeou was Taipei mayor. A 14.8km extension to the Muzha Line, the Wenshan-Neihu, or Wenhu, Line has suffered a number glitches and malfunctions since it began operating in July last year because of compatibility problems.

The Control Yuan launched a probe last year into alleged irregularities in the construction of the line and censured the city government in May over its construction of the problem-ridden line. The city government later took disciplinary action against 21 officials and staff as a result.

However, Ma was cleared of any administrative wrongdoing in the design and construction of the project.

Su criticized Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin and his team over long delays in the refitting of 51 pairs of trains that previously traveled on the Muzha Line, which used the French-built Matra system.

Taipei City Government spokesperson Chao Hsin-pin yesterday said the problems with the line were the result of the then-DPP central governments refusal to subsidize a heavy capacity system.

Moreover, numerous underground pipes in Neihu District made it impossible to have underground projects, Chao said.

The city had assessed the feasibility of building the line underground, but former minister of transportation and communications Yeh Chu-lan turned down the proposal, she said.

Su should have a talk with Yeh if he wants to address the matter, she said.

Su has been criticizing the city government, but has offered no solid campaign platform. He should look ahead and put more effort into presenting real proposals, Chao said.
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Old October 31st, 2010, 06:41 PM   #80
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Councilors accuse Yang of collaboration on MRT cost
29 October 2010
Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors yesterday accused former Taipei City Secretariat director Yang Hsi-an of collaborating with the contractor of the MRT Wenshan-Neihu Line to get a NT$1.5 billion (US$48 million) price adjustment, urging prosecutors to look into Yangs relations with the contractor.

Yang was demoted on Wednesday after prosecutors listed him as a defendant in the Xinsheng Overpass reconstruction scandal. Prosecutors said he had been exchanging e-mails with the contractor, Kung Sing Engineering Corp, that discussed the bidding price of the project.

The company has handled the construction or engineering design of 100 municipal projects, including the MRT line, since Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) took office in December 2006.

Criticizing Yangs close relations with the contractor, DPP Taipei City Councilor Lee Chien-chang alleged that Yang had ignored the contract, which banned any adjustment of the budget for the line, and urged the city government to increase the budget for the lines construction in 2007 because of soaring raw material prices.

The companys requests to make price adjustments for raw material costs in 2005 and 2006 had been rejected by the administration of then-Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou, according to city government documents.

However, while presiding over several municipal meetings in 2007, Yang said the citys Department of Rapid Transit Systems should discuss the issue with the company and finalize a plan on the sum of the price adjustment.

Hau approved the proposal to give the company an extra NT$1.5 billion by the end of that year.

Yang was obviously playing a major role in pushing for the city government to violate the contract and give extra money to the company. This is another example of his collaboration with the company so that it would benefit from construction projects, Lee said.

DPP Taipei City Councilor Hsu Shu-hua joined Lee and also challenged Yangs role in the price adjustment plan, urging prosecutors to start investigating the case.

Hau should also explain to Taipei residents whether he agreed to pay the money in order to speed up the lines construction. The NT$1.5 billion is not Haus money, its taxpayers money, Hsu said.

Yang yesterday dismissed the allegations, saying the price adjustment plan was approved by the Executive Yuans Public Construction Commission and adding that other government departments had also raised budgets for construction projects because of increases in the costs of raw materials.

I only gave advice, I didnt approve the project ... The councilors should not use [the case] as an election ploy, Yang said.

Meanwhile, Hau said his DPP rival in next months election, Su Tseng-chang, was using the Xinsheng Overpass reconstruction project scandal to make unnecessary attacks on him for election purposes. He urged Su to respect the judicial system.

Su said Haus election team was attempting to cover up the truth and vowed to recover the truth and let Taipei residents know what really happened if elected.

The KMT caucus accused prosecutors of attempting to sabotage Haus election bid by listing Yang as a defendant.

KMT Deputy Secretary-General Hsieh Kuo-liang said the caucus believed in Haus integrity because it was the mayor that had referred the case to prosecutors.

Lo Shu-lei, another KMT deputy secretary-general, urged Hau to clearly account for the overpass procurement process to prevent the controversy from escalating.

Additional reporting by Flora Wang
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