Scholar attacks redevelopment law

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) was “unethical” in its failure to clarify a controversial law governing urban redevelopment projects, a scholar said yesterday. The MOI must immediately file a petition with the Council of Grand Justices asking it to decide if the urban redevelopment law is unconstitutional, said Chang Chin-o, a land administration professor at National Chengchi University. As the highest government body in charge of such redevelopment projects, the ministry is being “unethical” for “failing to do what it can do,” said Chang, former head of Taipei City’s urban redevelopment committee. According to Chang the committee was disbanded Thursday after it proposed changes to rules for urban renewal. He said he was speaking as a private citizen and not representing the city government. His criticism was made at a forum hosted by the MOI’s Construction and Planning Administration in the wake of the forced demolition of the home of a family that refused to move out to make way for a renewal project in Taipei. The controversy sparked an outrage among the public.

Many have questioned the urban renewal law, saying it is unconstitutional in that it allows the authorities to force residents to give up their homes. While calls have been mounting for the government to seek a ruling by the grand justices on the law’s constitutionality, the interior ministry and the Taipei City Government have been reluctant to do so. The MOI is instead looking to have the law revised, and the forum was arranged to gather opinions on possible amendments. But Chang stressed that it would be pointless and illegitimate to have the law revised before the grand justices rule on its constitutionality. The MOI must take the initiative to ask the grand justices to look into the matter, the professor said, adding that the urban redevelopment law originally emphasized residents’ rights to their abode and property.

But later, the government, in moves to boost the economy, started to revise the law in ways that could accelerate the redevelopment of urban areas, he said. The Legislature, with individual members having their own agendas, concurred with the administration’s moves, revising the law to lower the requirements for urban renewal projects, he said. “The legislators must take the biggest blame,” the United Evening News cited Chang as saying.