Ruling on Su farmhouse is responsibility of local gov’t: COA

The China Post news staff

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice presidential candidate Su Jia-chyuan proposed yesterday that the debate regarding his Pingtung farmhouse should be halted until the Council of Agriculture (COA) releases a legal ruling after inspection. But Su’s statement was refuted by the COA, which said that the Pingtung County Government would be the party to exercise such authority.

It is the Pingtung County Government, not the COA, that has the ultimate say over whether Su’s farmhouse meets the Agricultural Development Act and the act that regulates establishment of farmhouses on farmlands, COA Minister Chen Wu-hsiung pointed out yesterday, saying that the COA would respect all decisions made by the local government and emphasizing its mutual stance on the controversy.

If Su had been waiting on the COA for a verdict of whether he had violated the law by building that Pingtung farmhouse, “Because the COA had never received any official documents from Su asking that such inspections be done,” Chen said, “He has been waiting on the wrong person.”

According to Chen, after legislators requested that the COA investigate Su’s farmhouse, the COA had twice issued official documents to the Pingtung County Government, first on Sept. 19 and then on Oct. 4, but had yet to receive an official response.

The local government did hold a press conference to clarify its progress on the investigation, but seeing how it is a governmental organization, it should issue official documents rather than press releases, Chen said.

The Agricultural Development Act clearly defined the limitations on who could build farmhouses and what actions taken on farmlands are considered farm-related, so “There is no need to amend the law,” Chen said. The only detail in doubt is whether farmhouses should be established at a corner of the land or direly next to the road, he pointed out.