2. Humanity, culture, and memory vs. law
A historical perspective
Those people who set up there came at a particular time of Taiwan’s history, and they came along 2 million other Chinese loyal to the KMT. This is something I can hardly imagine, and also something that people don’t really talk about in Taiwan. From this perspective, lodging everyone was not that easy, and I realized that thinking about this problem through Huaguang only may not give me a full overview-I promise, I will do research for my next articles! But my point here is that those people, as they were acting illegally, didn’t necessarily have another choice, and the situation had settled already long ago-some of them lived there for more than 50 years. So the decision of the government was a tough one for them. You get used to your home, it becomes part of you.
A matter of humanity
While people who could afford simply relocated, there were also many poor people living there who cannot even pay the rent the government is offering them. Those people, I assume, didn’t relocate because they couldn’t afford to, because they were already old, or because their education was low. To me, it means that it was hard for them to overcome this situation by themselves without help from the government.
Treat the poorest and weakest of the people as if they were wealthy seems unproductive to me: some old ladies have no families, can hardly walk, and have no money at all, but anyway the government ask them to tear down their own house (not an easy task when you are 85+), and then try to find the NTD12.000 to pay the rent in the suburbs.
Gallery：Life in Huaguang
A memory of Taipei
Huaguang belonged into the Japanese and KMT historical parts of Taiwan’s history. Originally, the home to the administration of a prison during the Japanese era, a long and sinister building were many political opponents were detained. The compound had some administrative areas as well, and those included several beautiful houses spread on the plot. There were brick walls and tiled rooftops, small gardens, trees that grew into the walls, that spoke about another era.
Later, when the KMT came, more rows were built that also belonged to Taiwan’s history, they were one of the few testimony to this traumatic time when the ruling party flew and came on the small island. The illegal buildings that inserted themselves on the available space gave it an additional charm.
Finally you could find there some centennial trees with majestic shadows, and, buried in some backyards, there were some mango trees making delicious fruits. I’ll tell you how I know about the mango trees, it’s a small secret! As I was walking through the rumbles, I heard some noise and saw people in the ruins. They told me they were grabbing some mangos before the trees were destroyed, that was such a pity to let such great trees die! Later, I was surprised to discover that those people actually belonged to the demolition team that was in charge of clearing the rubbles this day… They are simple, professional people who do their job in a very straight forward way, protected by the spirit of the land, but this day their heart had spoken!
Involving the public on decisions about public land
To protest, habitants have to deal with national or municipal officers, as well as the ministry of justice, and official answers often bounce responsibility from one government office to another, as the habitants reported to me.
I may be wrong there, but it seems that the plans to develop a new Roppongi in the area are not really clear. I haven’t seen any date to start the project. It doesn’t look like any public offer has been made, I haven’t heard of any roadmap. To say the least, this major development project looks rather opaque to me. However I might be totally wrong on this point, as a foreigner, it is just difficult to find this kind of information.
Because of the location of this site, a highly valuable, historical, huge plot in the very heart of Taipei, you would at least expect some kind of public approval about what the place is going to become. This is not going to happen.
In regard to the amounts that are going to be moved for this project, it doesn’t look like treating people correctly or with comprehension would be an impossible task, given the particular historical situation, and the fact that public land is going to be used for private purposes.
-several political figures including Ma-Ying-Jiu, the current Taiwanese president, are reported to have promised during speeches that have been recorded and are publicly available that all the habitants would be resettled in decent conditions…