Ruling party urges swift passage of renewal act

By Ted Chen, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The ruling party yesterday advocated brisk approval of laws relating to the urban renewal act.

KMT caucus whip Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) yesterday invited Deputy Interior Ministor Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) and acting Deputy Mayor Chang Chin-e (張金鶚) to a press conference in an effort to unite central and local governing bodies in reaching a consensus for the amendment of the urban renewal act. The urban renewal act is poised to see significant changes, intended for the purpose of ensuring the principles of fairness and transparency, according to Hsiao.

Specifically, the governing bodies are considering raising the threshold of residents who must agree before any proposed urban renewal projects can be greenlit, said Hsiao.

In addition, Hsiao called for the public release of all information related to the urban renewal process to ensure that homeowners and the general public are well-equipped to make their own decisions.

Following the fallout from the Wenlin Yuan(文林苑)incident, where the home of a family by the name of Wang (王) was forcibly demolished, the Taipei City Government submitted its amended draft to the urban renewal act, which concords with the version submitted by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), according to Chang.

However, current drafts lack third-party arbitration components, terms of mediation, and guidelines governing court mediation when demolition of housing is required, in addition to tax incentive programs for joint-development between homeowners and developers, said Chang.

Hsiao explained that the omission of third-party arbitration from the draft is due to the fact that arbitration requires opposing parties to have pre-existing contractual agreements, noting that many residents who wish to opt out of urban renewal often refuse to sign any related contracts.

Deputy Finance Minister Chang Pei-zhi (張佩智) expressed concern over potential exploitation if tax incentives were rendered where homeowners and property developer collaborate. The MOI indicated that with the proposed amendments to the urban renewal act, disputes such as the Wenlin Yuan Incident may be avoided, as developers must conform to new standards.