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Farmers say draft bill fails to address land expropriation woes

Farmers say draft bill fails to address land expropriation woes

Taipei, Dec. 13 (CNA) Hundreds of farmers whose lands have been expropriated by the government for public use staged a quiet protest in front of the Legislature on Tuesday as lawmakers were processing an amendment pertaining to government acquisition of land. Elderly farmers, wearing headbands that read "Land Justice," said the proposed amendments to the Act of Eminent Domain are still tilted toward corporations. Tsai Pei-hui, a professor of Social Transformation Studies at Shih Hsin University who joined the protest, said a dozen of the controversial land expropriation cases in special agricultural zones are related to major government construction projects. The draft amendment submitted by the Ministry of the Interior still allows the government to acquire private lands in agricultural zones, which means farmers' properties can be expropriated at will, Tsai said. One of the main points of the amendment bill is that land expropriation must be in the "public interest," she said However, the draft bill, which was scheduled for a second reading Tuesday, did not take into consideration the public's opinions on what constitutes "public interest," she said. The definition of public interest will be left entirely up to the local governments, she added. As for the issue of compensation, the latest draft amendment does not agree to allow certified real estate appraisers to determine the market value of the property in question, Tsai said. This leaves the government with the right to acquire private property at what it deems to be fair market value, she added. Furthermore, the bill makes no provisions for relocation subsidies to be paid to people whose properties have been expropriated, she said. It only allows such payments to people in low-income groups who have no alternative place of residence, she stressed. One of the protesters, a 70-year-old farmer Wang Chu whose property in Bali District in New Taipei City was acquired by the government, indicated that she and her centenarian mother needed such help. Wang said her mother worries every day about how they will survive. "Where will we find the money to lease a place to live?" she quoted her mother as asking daily. Tsai said the farmers will continue their sit-in protest until their voices are heard. (By Lin Shu-yuan and Ann Chen)


Updated : 2021-09-21 11:41 GMT+08:00