Taiwan Typhoon Morakot victims protest against relocation

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Victims left homeless by Typhoon Morakot protested against government relocation plans in Kaohsiung County Thursday, 100 days after the disaster.
About 300 mostly aboriginal residents of the worst-hit areas marched through the city of Fengshan to protest against the planned relocation of their village.
Typhoon Morakot brought excessive rains to Southern Taiwan on the August 8 weekend, causing floods and landslides which left an estimated more than 700 people dead and the government’s image in tatters. Premier Liu Chao-shiuan later resigned amid accusations of government incompetence.
The Kaohsiung County Government plans to move residents of the townships of Namahsia and Taoyuan away to permanent homes built by the Red Cross and the Buddhist Tzu Chi relief organization in the township of Shanlin. The government cited safety reasons, cautioning that the original villages might be threatened by more mudslides in the future.
Holding banners proclaiming “I want to go home,” the protesters said the government should help the aboriginals obtain land to rebuild their homes as close to their original dwellings as possible. They complained that the local authorities forced them to put their signatures on a document either choosing a new permanent residence or their original home.
Some protesters threw eggs after their demand for Kaohsiung County Magistrate Yang Chiu-hsing to address them was not met.
The central government said that experts would complete a safety evaluation of 86 locations by the end of the month. Former residents could return to villages that were deemed safe, but if that was not the case, the residents should still be relocated to the new permanent homes, said Cabinet spokesman Su Jun-pin.
Premier Wu Den-yih said government departments were hard at work thinking of ways to bring commerce back to the stricken areas.
The weekly Cabinet meeting Thursday approved amendments expanding the role of the fire departments to include more general disaster prevention tasks and forcing the military to take quicker action in helping with disaster relief.