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Old August 2nd, 2011, 06:08 PM   #161
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Time to stop robbing the poor to feed the wealthy
By Hsu Shih-jung
Sat, Jul 30, 2011
Taipei Times

When farmers took to the streets of Taipei to protest earlier this month, the response from the public was tremendous. However, it was only one year ago that those same farmers staged an overnight protest on Ketagalan Boulevard that seems to have been largely forgotten. A year has passed, but the government continues to act as though nothing is wrong even though land expropriation cases have been just as appalling this year as they were last year.

Why is this happening?

One reason is that the government mistakenly believes land expropriation to be an important way to develop land and improve its fiscal position.

Government finances are in serious jeopardy, but instead of imposing higher taxes on the wealthy to boost revenue, the rich are given tax breaks, tax exemptions and other economic privileges. So where else is the funding for much needed infrastructure projects to be found? The answer is to use land expropriation to prop up land development.

Land-related taxes such as the land value tax and land value increment tax are the main sources of tax income for local governments. In this context, it is hardly surprising that how to collect more tax revenue becomes the focus of much policy debate.

In addition, those in power can utilize land development projects to co-opt local politicians, thereby killing two birds with one stone.

The reason local governments are using every means possible to turn farmland into urban land is that farmland is not taxable and as such brings in no revenue. Article 53 of the Executive Yuan’s Equalization of Land Rights Act (平均地權條例) states that all expansion or renewal of urban planning, or reassignment of farmland or protected zones as land for construction, must be achieved through zone expropriation. This has caused the expropriation of farmland to double.

Zone expropriation allows the government to expropriate large areas of land and subsequently make huge profits by auctioning it off or selling it by tender.

Because government has the final say when it comes to urban planning, many urban planning districts have been continually expanded and more designated areas are being established near industrial and science parks. As a result, urban planning has gotten out of hand as local governments exaggerate population numbers and use falsified data as a pretext to turn farmland into urban land.

At present there is a difference of more than 7 million between fabricated population numbers and the actual population. Although there is still much unused land in industrial and science parks, meeting the needs of these exaggerated figures creates the false impression that construction on this land is necessary.

The government has deliberately established such a distorted mechanism to expropriate land because it can then carry out its own land development agenda and significantly increase revenue intake.

It is most regrettable that the strict regulations and guidelines that should govern land expropriation have been willfully pushed aside, and that the basic property rights and human rights guaranteed by the Constitution have been neglected. As a result, the members of one of society’s most disadvantaged groups — farmers — are being forced to bear the burden of funding government infrastructure construction.

Social justice is turned on its head in a world where the poor are robbed to feed the rich.

Hsu Shih-jung is chairman of National Chengchi University’s Department of Land Economics.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 08:23 PM   #162
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MRT Airport Line flies high in Hsinchu County
Taipei Times Staff Writer, with CNA
Sat, Aug 06, 2011

Amid high winds and occasional rain caused by Typhoon Muifa passing to the east of Taiwan, the Bureau of High Speed Rail (BHSR) held a ceremony yesterday to celebrate the completion of the elevated section of a new metro line that will connect Taipei with Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

Construction of the 51km-long MRT Airport Line’s main structure has been finished, BHSR officials announced. Now the project enters a new stage in which the installation of electronic systems will take place.

Barring any glitches, the long-anticipated metro system will be able to start commercial services by June 2013.

The MRT Airport Line, one of the government’s 10 Major National Construction Projects, starts from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 2, extends eastward to Terminal 1, and passes through townships in Taoyuan County and districts of New Taipei City (新北市), including Linkou (林口), Gueishan (龜山), Sinjhuang (新莊), Taishan (泰山) and Sanchong (三重), before entering Taipei City.

The line also reaches southward through Taoyuan’s high-speed rail station to Jhongli City (中壢).

It consists of 22 stations, of which 15 are elevated and seven are underground, with two maintenance depots. The elevated section stretches for 40km.

The Airport Line connects key transport hubs in northern Taiwan, including the Taipei Main Station, Taoyuan High-Speed Railway Station and the airport, as well as Taipei City’s metro network.

The NT$113.85 billion (US$3.9 billion) project brings together international air and domestic traffic services, BHSR said.

BHSR officials added that one of the project’s unique features is the elevated section crossing National Highway No. 1, which sports v-shaped bridge piers. The bridge, spanning 279m, enables a broad visual field for drivers on the highway, officials said, calling the flyover a landmark structure.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 09:09 AM   #163
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Wed, Aug 10, 2011
Railway bureau submits plan to build direct route between Taipei and Yilan
Taipei Times
By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter

The Railway Reconstruction Bureau yesterday said it had submitted two proposed routes for a direct railway between Taipei and Yilan for final approval by the Executive Yuan.

Currently, the railway route between Taipei and Yilan runs along the northeastern coast, which passes through stations in New Taipei City (新北市), Rueifang (瑞芳) and Toucheng Township (頭城), Yilan County, among others.

The direct railway project would shorten the journey by establishing an express service between Nangang District (南港) in Taipei and Toucheng. It was proposed to ease traffic on Freeway No. 5 and designed to meet high demand for railway tickets to the east coast during holidays.

Railway Reconstruction Bureau Deputy Director-General Chou Yung-huei (周永暉) said in a presentation that the first proposal links Nangang directly to Toucheng, shortening the route from 72km to 39km.

Chou said the estimated travel time would be reduced from 59 minutes to 33 minutes on the Taroko Express and from 68 minutes to 34 minutes on the Tzu-chiang Express.

The total cost would exceed NT$50.6 billion (US$1.74 billion), he said.

The second proposal would reduce travel distance from 72km to 49km by going on a detour through Dasi (大溪), Yilan County.

The estimated travel time would be cut to 39 minutes on the Taroko Express and to 42 minutes on the Tzu-chiang Express.

The total cost for this option would be NT$39.6 billion.

While the first proposal appeared to be a more effective option for reducing travel time and diverting traffic from Freeway No. 5, Chou said the route would pass through several water veins and geologically fractured zones, adding that the plan could be a tough sell to the Environmental Impact Assessment committee.

“The second proposal bypasses the Sindian River (新店溪) basin and would have a relatively smaller impact on the environment,” Chou said. “The project also costs NT$10 billion less than the first proposal, but the route in the second proposal is not as good as the first one.”

Chou was reluctant to say which option the Executive Yuan would choose.

Meanwhile, the bureau has prepared a plan to improve the existing railway line along the northeast coast as an alternative in case the two proposals do not work out. While construction costs would drop to NT$34 billion, the improvement would only reduce the distance of the existing railway route by 12km and travel time by 12 to 16 minutes.

Chou said it could take at least 15 months before the finalized construction plan can be submitted for an environmental impact assessment.

When considering the time that will be spent on the assessment, route design, land expropriation and the actual construction of the railway route, either project could take 11 years to complete, Chou said.

Chou said the direct railway project would divert up to 21 percent of traffic from Freeway No. 5, adding that this could rise to 42 percent if the Ministry of Transportation and Communications lowered railway ticket prices or provided other incentives.
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Old August 12th, 2011, 06:32 PM   #164
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Fri, Aug 12, 2011
Ancestors asked to protect land
Taipei Times

Bringing ancestral tablets with them, dozens of people who face the forced expropriation of their land to make way for a planned airport express rail route in Taoyuan County rallied in Taipei yesterday morning to protest the planned auction of their land.

“Grandpa, grandma, great grandpa, great grandma and all our ancestors, please come to help us in this time of need,” members of the MRT A7 Station Development Project Self-Help Group chanted as they burned incense sticks in front of ancestral tablets belonging to the Chen (陳), Teng (鄧), Chu (褚) and Huang (黃) families.

“Please see how they are trying to take away the land that you passed on to us. Seek out those officials responsible and make them pay for what they are doing,” they said.

Dozens of villagers from Leshan Village (樂善) in Gueishan Township (龜山) staged the protest outside the Ministry of the Interior.

The plan, named the “A7 station of the Taoyuan International Airport MRT development project,” is to build affordable housing units and an industrial zone on the land.

The site is located near the planned Taoyuan International Airport MRT line, which will connect Taipei and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport by passing through Linkou District (林口), New Taipei City (新北市) and the borders of Taoyuan County and New Taipei City, including Gueishan.

Although the expropriation -process has been stalled by the opposition of local residents, the ministry has already put the land up for auction.

“We have brought our ancestral tablets here because we have already protested a number of times, but both central and local governments are ignoring us, so we are asking our ancestors for help,” the group’s chairwoman, Hsu Yu-hung (徐玉紅), told reporters. “How can the government auction our land before we landowners agree to it? This is a violation of our human rights.”

The landowners had not been invited or informed about a -meeting on Wednesday between local politicians and Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) officials, Hsu said.

After Department of Land Administration Deputy Director Wang Ching-hsiu (王靚琇) and Rural Development Department Director Hung Chia-hung (洪嘉宏) received their petition, the demonstrators marched to the Control Yuan and then to the Executive Yuan to voice their opposition to the plan.

“We will defend our homes with our blood and our lives,” Hsu said before leaving the ministry. “If anything bad happens, the government should be held responsible.”
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Old August 15th, 2011, 05:59 PM   #165
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Shilin Night Market not being given proper care
Taipei Times
Fri, Aug 12, 2011



The relocation of Shilin Night Market, which has been postponed for years will finally commence at the end of this year. Most of the food stalls will be moved to an underground section at a new location. Many people are worried that the new Shilin Night Market will end up just like the Jiancheng Circle and the underground mall at Longshan Temple MRT Station, becoming the latest guinea pig of the two “night market killers,” Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and his predecessor, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

Moving the food stalls to an underground location is just part of the issue. The real pity is that the delays in reconstruction and the lack of well-thought-through development plans for the market and surrounding areas show that the Ma and Hau city governments have never understood the market’s key role, or had any long-term development plans to start with.

According to a survey by the Tourism Bureau, 5.6 million people visited Taiwan last year and 77 percent of these people listed “night markets” as places of major interest, while Taipei 101, the National Palace Museum and Sun Moon Lake came in at second, third and fourth places respectively. This shows how important night markets are to Taiwan’s tourism industry.

Of all the tourists who visited night markets, 49 percent listed Shilin Night Market as their first choice. This means that last year, the market had more than 2.1 million tourists visit.

Viewed in this light, the market is not only the cradle of Taiwanese food and traditional snacks, it could also be called one of Taiwan’s national gateways.

It could be even more important than places like Taipei 101, the National Palace Museum or Sun Moon Lake.

Shilin Night Market forms part of Taiwan’s international image and is crucial to both the promotion of Taiwanese culture and food, and the development of the tourism sector.

It is difficult not to feel anger over how the city government has failed to care for this gem when one sees the disorganized and ineffective way that it has dealt with Shilin Night Market.

This has included taking a decade to complete the reconstruction and changing construction companies three times, with work stopping and restarting four times.

Then there is the lack of parking spaces for tour buses around the market — people and cars have to fight for space outside the MRT station, the street layout of the market is chaotic and illogical, and the underground area at the new site has ventilation and drainage problems, while stall spaces are not large enough.

What is even more important is that those in power do not care about our national treasures.

All they do is engage in empty talk about how Taipei is the capital of gourmet food. They are slow to plan developments and take action, and unable to base their plans and actions on the business opportunities and amount of tourism that Shilin Night Market attracts from both local and foreign visitors.

The city government’s overall plan for the streets of Shilin, former president Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) official residence in Shilin, the National Palace Museum and the soon-to-be-constructed Taipei Performing Arts Center, and even the way it fails to effectively use the spaces of Taipei and its cultural resources, are all things that should receive serious consideration.

Pasuya Yao is a Democratic Progressive Party candidate in the January legislative elections for the No. 2 district of Taipei City.
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Old August 17th, 2011, 06:10 PM   #166
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Sat, Aug 13, 2011
New life given to old buildings as project unveiled
Taipei Times

The Taipei City Government yesterday unveiled a large-scale urban renewal project at Grand Green, a long-abandoned area north of Beiping E Road, turning the old building and train station into an open exhibition as part of its plan to improve the city’s landscape.

The “Taipei Extra-Ordinary” exhibition, which will open to the public on Sept. 3, was a collaboration between the city’s Urban Redevelopment Office and the Urban Regeneration Station (URS), a civic group dedicated to urban renewal and art.

A total of 14 artist and cultural groups decorated the abandoned train station and building with -elements commonly seen in Taipei to portray daily life in the city, turning different sections in the grounds into a kitchen, coffee shop, bike shop and grocery store.

Addressing the exhibition launch ceremony yesterday, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said it showcased the city government’s efforts to beautify the city’s landscape and how new life had been breathed into old and abandoned areas.

“Urban renewal is not only about tearing down buildings. Revitalizing old areas and giving new life to abandoned buildings are also crucial as we try to make the city better,” he said.

Exhibition curator Chiu Wen-chieh (邱文傑) said the spirit of the project was to promote the chaotic yet charming culture aesthetic of Taipei that is often hidden in the city’s alleys.

“Taipei is a city full of energy and we are hoping to show local residents and foreign visitors what living in Taipei feels like and the charm of its grassroots culture through the exhibition,” he said.

The exhibition will run from Sept. 3 to Nov. 23. Prior to the exhibition, the organizers will show two Taiwanese films —Au Revoir Taipei (一頁台北) and Taipei Exchanges (第36個故事) — at 7pm at Grand Green today and tomorrow respectively.

For more information on the exhibition and related activities, visit the Web site at www.urstaipei.net.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 05:55 PM   #167
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Sun, Aug 21, 2011
Taipei Times
Pollution of the Sifen River must be stopped

For the most part, Taipei City Government policies emphasize development while neglecting the environment. This can be seen in the Taipei Dome development project, the development project for the Kuang Tzu Senior Citizens’ Home (廣慈博愛院) and the development project for the 144 hectares of land designated for commercial use at the former No. 202 Artillery and Ammunition Plant.

The only exception appears to be the government’s plan to seal off the Sifen River (四分溪) in Nangang District (南港) to protect fish, which seems to emphasize ecological conservation. However, considering the city’s drive to push development projects, it is not certain that the Sifen River plan will go ahead.

Several of Taipei’s build-operate--transfer (BOT) development projects involve handing large tracts of land over to developers so they can carry out high-intensity construction projects such as the Taipei Dome, large shopping malls and luxury housing estates. Such developments maximize profits for the developer while providing as little environmental protection as possible.

During the decisionmaking process, reviews on urban planning and environmental impact assessments, the city government sides with developers and pays little attention to the welfare of the environment and ecology.

The Sifen River project is the first time the city government has approved a plan to close off of a river to protect fish. The government should also encourage the relocation of factories and facilities in the entire river basin to stop them from polluting and harming the area’s environment and ecology, especially in the upper reaches of the stream, where factories should be banned altogether.

However, the city government does not seem to have a clear plan to do this.

For a long time, officials have allowed a soil dump to dump polluted water into the Sifen River. Just recently, this soil dump once again pumped large volumes of polluted water into the river from a discharge point it had installed.

Members of the public involved in the plan to block off the river to protect its fish notified the city government via a citizens’ hotline and then followed inspectors from the Department of Environmental Protection when they inspected the area.

However, the inspectors only issued an oral warning. Only after local residents and a local community development association filed several complaints did the government reluctantly issue the legally required fines.

This soil dump, located near the source of the Sifen River, has been dumping polluted water and other unidentified materials into the river for a long time. The soil dump has breached the Soil and Water Conservation Act (水土保持法) and the Water Pollution Control Act (水汙染防治法) many times and it has been fined by the city’s Building Administration Office and Department of Environmental Protection.

In February, the soil dump’s operational period expired: The city government should not have allowed it to continue operations.

If the Taipei City Government is really serious about promoting its policy to block off the Sifen River to protect fish, then officials really must stop companies from dumping polluted water into it. It would be best if officials revoked the operational licenses of all the companies along the river that break regulations.

This is the only way the 7km of the Sifen River will ever be cleaned up.
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Old August 25th, 2011, 05:29 AM   #168
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Thu, Aug 25, 2011
Taipei Times
Ma vows to push for revisions to land legislation

President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday announced that his administration would push for legislation and revision of laws on land expropriation, real-estate transaction prices and social housing projects to provide more protection for landowners and a more equitable use of land and housing to curb property hoarding.

Ma told a press conference at the Presidential Office that the Executive Yuan would pass a revision to the Land Expropriation Act proposed by the Ministry of the Interior and send it to the legislature for approval.

Under the proposals, local governments will evaluate land transaction prices of expropriated lands every six months, and compensation for landowners will be calculated according to market value rather than the published value of the land, which is often much lower than the market value.

Major solutions to curb unjust land seizures and housing prices include the establishment of a database of real-estate transaction prices to make the information transparent, taxation of unused land to prevent land speculation and housing legislation, he said.

“Our goal is to demonstrate the government’s determination to defend justice in land use and housing, as well as close the poverty gap. Any reforms will affect the rights of some groups, but in the long run, establishing a fair real-estate transaction system will benefit consumers, land developers and real-estate firms,” he said.

Ma’s comments came in the wake of a series of large-scale protests against government takeovers of land for use as industrial parks and other manufacturing facilities.

The legislation and amendment of legislation, as well as administrative measures were the first step in his administration’s efforts to pursue justice in land use, housing and taxation, he said.

The measures, including the taxation of vacant land and inspection of luxury apartment transactions, were aimed at eliminating speculation by land developers and real-estate companies, he said, promising that the government would not increase tax on self-owned residences.

Ma said the legal revisions would include a ban on expropriating any farmland unless it was for a social welfare project or major national development.

At a separate setting later in the day, Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah said the proposed amendment aimed to provide better protection to landowners and to make it more difficult for government institutions to take over private land.

The purpose of adding more steps and requiring more cash compensation was to make local governments think twice before expropriating land, Jiang said.

“Many critics have said the land expropriation measure has been abused. Therefore, we are trying to make local governments spend more money on such transactions so they will think twice before making a decision to expropriate land,” he said. “Other measures, such as public hearings, will also make it more difficult to take over private land, so that forced expropriation would be the last option when trying to acquire land.”

Jiang said a real-estate market price database would be established once the legal revisions are finalized, and local governments will help collect information on real-estate prices.

Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin
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Old August 27th, 2011, 04:49 PM   #169
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Sat, Aug 27, 2011
Taipei’s deserted ‘beach’ should go, councilor says
Taipei Times
NO FACILITIES:A city resident said she would bring her daughter to play near City Hall more often if it had better attractions, such as swings and slides, like Da-an Park does

An “artificial beach” that was created in the southeast plaza of Taipei City Hall in 2008 has become a deserted area, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilor said yesterday, urging the city government to abolish the facility if its popularity could not be revived.

The 400m2 beach, created by the city with a budget of NT$1.07 million (US$35,000), aimed to provide a recreational escape from the urban grind right in the heart of the city with white sand and beach chairs.

The spot attracted more than 12,000 people in 2008, but the number of visitors to the artificial beach dropped to about 3,200 in 2009 and last year. Only 756 visitors have visited the area so far this year, information from the city’s Research, Development and Evaluation Commission showed.

“The artificial beach lacks recreational facilities, which makes the spot less appealing to the public. The facility will become another deserted city project if the city government continues to ignore it,” DPP Taipei City Councilor Wu Su-yao (吳思瑤) said at the artificial beach.

The beach was proposed by former commissioner Emile Sheng (盛治仁), borrowing from examples in Germany and France where beaches were created in various locations throughout cities to provide getaways.

However, unlike the artificial beaches in those countries, Taipei’s beach lacks other facilities, such as beach volleyball courts and drink stands, which might have attracted more visitors, Wu said.

A Taipei resident surnamed Hung, who brought her seven-year-old daughter to play in the sand yesterday morning, agreed that the city government should set up more facilities to increase interest in the beach.

“The playground in Da-an Park, for example, has more facilities like swings and slides. The artificial beach here has nothing but white sand. We would come more often if the city government added more facilities,” she said.

Lin Fang-yi (林芳儀), a division chief at the city’s Management Office, acknowledged that the beach was not attracting many visitors this year, and said the office would seek to install more facilities and improve maintenance projects to revive the beach’s popularity.

Wu said the city government should consider abolishing the beach and using its maintenance budget, about NT$200,000 a year, for other more important city projects.
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Old September 7th, 2011, 09:08 AM   #170
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Old September 12th, 2011, 06:31 PM   #171
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WIKILEAKS: Hau promised to facilitate AIT’s expansion
Thu, Sep 08, 2011
Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) promised to facilitate the construction of the American Institute in Taiwan’s (AIT) new office compound in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖) despite protests from local residents and councilors, a US diplomatic cable released online by WikiLeaks showed.

In a meeting with AIT Director William Stanton on Sept. 14, 2009, Hau said the city government had already blocked a local school project at the site to “keep the door open” for AIT’s expansion plans, according to the cable.

In response to Stanton’s call for cooperation from the city with the AIT’s attempt to acquire land adjacent to the new office compound for future use — including housing for AIT personnel or a language school — Hau said that while the city could not sell the land to AIT, a property exchange with the government was possible, the cable said.

Taipei City Government spokesperson Chang Chi-chiang (張其強) yesterday said the city did not halt a school project to facilitate the office compound’s construction, adding that many school construction projects in the city had at the time already been cancelled because of a declining number of students, the result of a dwindling birth rate.

“The land housing the AIT’s new office building was legally acquired and the construction project proceeded in accordance with regulations,” he said, dismissing concerns about any measures taken by the city government to facilitate the project.

Construction of the new AIT building, which is set to occupy more than 65,000m2 of government-owned land on Jinhu Road in Neihu, is scheduled to be completed next year.

AIT has signed a contract with the Taiwanese government to lease the land for 99 years for NT$339 million (US$11.6 million). The complex will replace the AIT compound in downtown Taipei that accommodates about 200 US and locally engaged staff, and is protected by Taiwanese police.

However, construction of the AIT office will likely fail to meet the target completion date as obstacles delaying construction were believed to stem from a request by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration for information on the office’s structure and location, including plans about quarters housing US Marines.

The cable revealed that Hau urged Stanton to be aggressive in arranging such a swap with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which he said was hesitant to take any responsibility.

Stanton is then reported to have expressed his gratitude for Hau’s foresight, saying that the new compound as a significant symbol of friendship and cooperation between the peoples of the US and Taiwan.
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Old September 13th, 2011, 10:12 PM   #172
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The Zhongshan Soccer Stadium was closed in 2008 and it is falling into disrepair probably, and it should be demolished for redevelopment soon.
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Old October 11th, 2011, 12:38 PM   #173
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Sat, Oct 08, 2011
Taipei Pavilion set to open for public viewing
Taipei Time

The Taipei Pavilion, one of the 55 exhibitions at the Shanghai World Expo’s Urban Best Practices Area last year, is scheduled to reopen to the public today at a former Taipei International Flora Expo site as part of the Taipei City Government’s efforts to reuse the flora expo sites after it ended in April.

The pavilion, which displays details of Taipei’s wireless Internet access and garbage recycling policies, will be open to the public at the flora expo’s former Pavilion of the Future in the Xinsheng Park area from Tuesday to Sunday at a price of NT$50.

At the launch ceremony yesterday, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) and filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢), who respectively sponsored the pavilion and helped produce a six-minute short film for the World Expo, joined Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) in celebrating the relocation of the pavilion to Taipei.

While lauding the pavilion, Hou challenged the city government to make better use of the flora expo sites, saying the sites, which occupy an area of 91.8 hectares in Taipei’s Datong District (大同), should include more “citizen space,” such as outdoor theaters and movie theaters.

Hou cited the city’s success in promoting local films following the creation of the Taipei Film Festival and said the city government should build movie theaters on the expo sites to further push the development of the local film industry.

“I would like the expo sites to become a place for our citizens and such an ideal can be best achieved if we can build an outdoor theater where people can enjoy a great night out at the movies or other performances,” he said.

Hau thanked both Hou and Gou for their help in making the pavilion available to the public, but he did not to address the issues brought up by Hou.

Taipei City Government’s Department of Economic Development said popular pavilions at the flora expo, including the Pavilion of Dreams and the Pavilion of the Future, have remained open to the public even after the end of the expo.

Other expo sites and pavilions, such as the Expo Dome, would be used as venues for cultural exhibitions or artistic performances, the department said.
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Old October 15th, 2011, 07:05 PM   #174
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Sat, Oct 15, 2011
Officials evaluate Taipei’s Universiade bid
TOUGH COMPETITION : Delegates will inspect facilities in Greater Taipei to see if they are suitable to host the world’s premier student-athlete sports meet in 2017
Taipei Times Staff Writer, with CNA

Three International University Sports Federation (FISU) officials are scheduled to arrive in Taiwan today on a four-day visit to evaluate Taipei’s potential to host the World University Games in 2017.

The FISU officials will be briefed by the Taipei City Government on its bid for the 2017 games and inspect the city’s sports infrastructure before filing an official report with FISU authorities on their findings, according to Chou Rey (周瑞), director of the Sports Affairs Council’s Department of International Sports.

Greater Taipei — comprised of Taipei, New Taipei City (新北市) and Taoyuan County — is vying to host the world’s premier student-athlete sports meet, also known as the Universiade, six years from now, but faces stiff competition from the Brazilian capital, Brasilia.

Chou said both Greater Taipei and Brasilia recently submitted applications to the FISU to compete for the right to host the event, and he was confident the bid committee would do its utmost to be awarded hosting rights.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) expressed confidence that Taipei would emerge victorious, given the city’s experience in organizing international events, including the Deaflympics and the Taipei International Flora Exposition.

The Brussels-based FISU will decide on Nov. 29 which city will host the 2017 Summer Universiade. The winning city will need the support of more than half of the 23 members of the FISU Executive Committee (not including the five continental representatives).

If neither Taiwan nor Brazil receives the necessary 12 votes in the first round, a second round of voting will be held to reach a final decision, Chou said.

This year’s event took place in Shenzhen, China, while Kazan in Russia was selected to host the 2013 games and Gwangju, South Korea, will be the 2015 host.

“This is the closest Taipei has ever been to hosting the Universiade,” Hau said.

Taiwan has never hosted a -Universiade and has not fared well in other recent bids. Kaohsiung lost out to Shenzhen for the right to host this year’s games and Taipei lost to Gwangju and Edmonton, Canada, in a battle to hold the 2015 games.

Hau said that if Taipei won the bid, it would push for a budget of NT$35 billion (US$1.15 billion) to host the games, with half of the funds coming from the central government.

He said the opening and closing ceremony of the 2017 Universiade would be held at the multifunctional Taipei Dome, which has yet to be constructed.

The 40,000-seat stadium is scheduled to be completed by 2016, regardless of whether Taipei wins the Universiade bid, Hau said.

The head of the Brazilian University Sport Confederation and an FISU vice president, Luciano Cabral, recently said one of Brasilia’s strengths was that 64 percent of the sports infrastructure needed for the Universiade was already in place.

The FISU team that arrives today will be looking to see how the three municipalities’ facilities stack up against Brasilia’s.
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Old October 17th, 2011, 05:27 AM   #175
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Sun, Oct 16, 2011
Taipei Times
Hakka Culture Park officially opens in Taipei City

Members of the Hakka community prepare to participate in a parade to celebrate the opening of the Taipei Hakka Culture Park in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: Lin Hsiang-mei, Taipei Times

The Taipei Hakka Culture Park yesterday opened to the public following months of construction delays. It will be the permanent home for the annual Taipei Hakka Yimin Festival and other Hakka-related activities.

The 4 hectare Hakka Culture Park, built on the former site of Taipei Children’s Museum of Transportation in the Gongguan area of Taipei City, features a central plaza, delonix plaza, tung flower trail, bike station, farming experience area and eco-pond.

The 24th Taipei Yimin Festival was held in conjunction with the opening ceremony, in which over 3,000 members of the Hakka community from 25 Yimin temples around the nation gathered at the park to celebrate the traditional Hakka ritual that runs until tomorrow.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin headed a delegation of top city officials and councilors that attended the Yimin gods-seating ceremony that officially started the festival.

The festival also featured a “shoulder pole meal-giving” parade that showcased the Hakka spirit of sharing, interactive multimedia exhibits and 12 Hakka Festival shows, demonstrating the vitality of Hakka culture.

The title Yimin (righteous people) is an honorific title bestowed on the Hakka by the Qing dynasty court for helping government forces to put down an uprising in central Taiwan in the late 1780s.

The uprising resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people in Hsinchu whose bodies were buried at the Sinpu-Fangliao Yimin Temple.

Taipei City Hakka Affairs Commission Chief Secretary Lin Wei-chong said the park would serve as the main venue for Hakka activities and work to promote Hakka culture.

“Hakka people in Taipei City finally have a home and we will take advantage of the Hakka Culture Park to introduce our culture to more people,” he said.

President Ma Ying-jeou was scheduled to preside over a Yimin god worship ceremony this morning at the park, followed by more parades and traditional Hakka performances.
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Old October 25th, 2011, 05:08 PM   #176
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Fri, Oct 21, 2011
EasyCard helps the Universiade bid, official says
Taipei Times Staff Writer, with CNA

Members of an evaluation committee in Taipei to inspect proposed competition venues for the 2017 Summer Universiade said this week that the multifunctional EasyCard was a big plus for the city’s bid to host the competition.

Hisato Igarashi, one of the officials from the International University Sports Federation (FISU), made the comment in a meeting with city officials after a tour of Taipei and neighboring cities.

The city promised to give each athlete and team staffer an EasyCard with a stored value of 70 euros (US$96, or NT$2,900) for transportation and shopping in places where the card is accepted.

The electronic card will be provided in addition to free access to transportation for all people with Universiade ID cards, the city government said in a presentation to the committee members on the first day of their visit.

Two “strong points” of Taipei’s bid were the EasyCard and the low daily cost, estimated at 10 euros per person, the committee chairman added.

Igarashi also said the city’s proposed budget plan was “healthy” and the general impression of the venues was “acceptable.”

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), who is leading the city in a second attempt to win an Universiade host bid, reiterated the city’s determination and strengths to host a successful Universiade, a biennial event for university athletes from more than 130 countries.

After examining venues in Taoyuan and New Taipei City (新北市), which are within an hour’s drive from the city, Summer Universiade director Marc Vandenplas said Taipei definitely had the infrastructure and space needed for the games, despite the need for further renovation and construction work.

The Belgian official offered several suggestions on how to improve the existing venues and planned projects, but raised some concerns over warm-up facilities, the design of the planned athletes’ village and traffic control.

He said the city would still have time to complete the work if it won the bid over the Brazilian capital, Brasilia.

The evaluation group ended its four-day visit on Tuesday. They will fly to Brazil on a similar trip later this month.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 06:59 PM   #177
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Sat, Oct 22, 2011
Taoyuan homes in favor due to prices in Taipei
FLOCKING SOUTH:The extension of Taipei’s MRT system to the Taoyuan airport has made it easier for people to move to Taoyuan and even Hsinchu
By Crystal Hsu / Taipei Times Staff Reporter

Soaring housing prices in the greater Taipei area are driving home buyers to take up residency in neighboring Taoyuan County, where people who relocated have accounted for nearly 40 percent of housing transactions in the past two years, a survey released yesterday showed.

A southward migration has become more evident over this period as owning a home in Taipei City and New Taipei City (新北市) has grown increasingly untenable, said Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋), the nation’s only listed company.

Those who relocated made up 39.5 percent of housing sales in Taoyuan County, which was followed by Greater Taichung at 37.8 percent and Hsinchu at 37.2 percent, the broker said.

UNAFFECTED

Taoyuan County, which takes about an additional 10 minutes to commute to Taipei City compared with parts of the greater Taipei area, remains unaffected by the recently implemented luxury tax, Stanley Su (蘇啟榮), head Sinyi researcher, said, adding that housing sales in the greater Taipei area dropped by 30 percent for two consecutive quarters.

According to Sinyi statistics, studio units in Taipei City sold for an average of NT$8.42 million (US$278,000). With the same money, a client could buy a three-bedroom apartment with a parking space in Taoyuan, Sinyi said.

This disparity in prices explains why many would move to Taoyuan, as three-bedroom apartments with parking spaces are the most sought-after properties among prospective buyers in Taipei City, Su said.

PRACTICAL MOVE

Public infrastructure projects, mainly the planned extension of Taipei’s mass rapid transit system to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, makes the move away from the capital both practical and desirable, Sinyi said.

Hsinchu, where major technology firms are headquartered, is also gaining popularity, Sinyi said, adding that job opportunities are playing a key role in facilitating migration to Hsinchu.

Jobs have also compelled people to move to Greater Taichung, the site of the Central Taiwan Science Park, Sinyi said.

An increasing number of people from Changhua and Nantou counties are relocating to Greater Taichung, pushing up housing prices there, the firm said.

By comparison, locals have underpinned housing transactions in Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung, where out-of-town newcomers accounted for less than 30 percent of transactions, Sinyi said.
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Old October 29th, 2011, 07:23 AM   #178
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Sat, Oct 29, 2011
Activists call for preservation of historic complex
Taipei Times Staff Writer, with CNA

The Taipei City Government was urged yesterday to protect a former residential area in Yangmingshan that housed US army personnel between the 1950s and 1970s amid concerns that the land could be sold and commercially developed.

At a public hearing held by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), lawmakers, an academic and cultural activists called for the preservation of a large housing complex built for US military advisers sent to Taiwan during the Cold War.

The base they lived on with their families was specially selected in 1952 in the Shanzihou (山仔后) area at the foot of Yangmingshan National Park.

The 13 hectare area is now owned by the Bank of Taiwan, Ting said, adding that the bank plans to transform it into a commercial zone for restaurants, guest houses or luxury housing.

The 118 houses still remaining from the period all have different interior designs and pillars made of hinoki wood, a highly prized building material, said Yang Tung-sheng (楊東盛), a representative of the neighborhood, adding that it would be sad if the houses were not preserved, 22 of which have been designated as historic buildings by the city.

O Han-ping (歐漢平), the director of a culture and history studio established to protect the area, said the city had tried to rezone the residential area into an area that combined commerce and housing.

However, Wang Yi-chun (王逸群), chief secretary of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, said the city had not agreed to the bank’s proposal to manage the complex using a build--operate-transfer (BOT) system because it would not be able to supervise future operations.

Hsieh Teng-lung (謝騰隆), executive vice president of the Bank of Taiwan, denied that the bank was planning a large-scale development in the area, saying the initiative was simply designed to revive the land.
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Old November 3rd, 2011, 05:50 PM   #179
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Sun, Oct 30, 2011
Airport surprised when construction firm stopped work
Taipei Times Staff Writer, with CNA

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport was caught by surprise last week when a construction company withdrew machines and workers from two aging runways it was hired to renovate.

On Friday, Taoyuan International Airport Corp (TIA) said it would seek damages from the contractor. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications said the incident would not affect the runway renovation project, scheduled to be completed by 2014.

TIA said in a statement that it had failed to make contact with the owner of the contractor — known as Chia Shan (佳山) in Chinese — since Oct. 21, when the company without warning withdrew all machines and workers it had dispatched to the construction site.

The contractor sent an e-mail to TIA on Oct. 24, saying it could not fulfill the contract because of financial problems.

TIA said it sent a return e-mail demanding that the contractor resume its operations or have its contract terminated and be sued for compensation based on the Government Procurement Act.

In the wake of the firm’s pullout, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) asked Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) to replace TIA chairman Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) immediately and launch an investigation to see whether corruption was involved.

Mao said the ministry would discuss the case and review TIA personnel before the end of the year. TIA is wholly owned by the government.

Mao said the runway renovation project would not be affected by the dispute because the contractor was only hired for one of the six preliminary phases of the construction project.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 03:55 AM   #180
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Wed, Nov 09, 2011
Taipei Times
Jiancheng Circle market to become farmers’ market

NEW INCARNATION:The site began as Taipei’s oldest food market under the Japanese, underwent renovations under Ma and finally a banquet venue

The Taipei City Government plans to turn the abandoned Jiancheng Circle market in Datung District (大同) into a farmers’ market by the end of this year in an effort to boost sales of Taiwanese agricultural products.

The Jiancheng Circle market, a historic market that dates back to the Japanese colonial era, had been turned into a banquet venue following a failed renovation project in 2006, but closed in April because of a lack of business.

In its latest attempt to revive the site at the intersection of Chongqing N Road and Nanjing W Road, the city organized a three-day farmers’ market on the site that began on Friday, selling fruit and produce from local farmers’ associations throughout the nation.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday said the farmers’ market had received positive reviews from the public and successfully promoted Taiwanese produce, such as apples from Dayuling (大禹嶺), persimmons from Nantou County and oolong tea from Yilan County.

Following the trial run last weekend, the city plans to turn the site into a permanent farmers’ market by the end of this year, Hau said.

“Taiwan is a kingdom of fruit and we are hoping to expand the scale of the farmers’ market and make it a venue for local fruits and agricultural products,” he added.

Taipei Deputy Mayor Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文) will lead a task force to build communication channels with agriculture associations nationwide that will allow farmers from throughout Taiwan to sell their products at the Jiancheng Circle market.

The Jiancheng Circle was Taipei’s oldest food market. It was turned into a three-story glass building in 2006 as part of a large-scale renovation launched by then-Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), but it was later forced to close later after the project failed to boost local businesses.

Hau’s team leased the building to a private company that turned the market into a banquet venue in 2009.

Chen said in addition to the farmers’ market, which will be located on the first floor of the three-story building, the city plans to place a food court on the second floor and set up a exhibition hall on the third floor to promote the history of the Dadaocheng (大稻埕) area.
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