Taiwan Church News
December 31, 2012 - January 6, 2013
The Top 10 Taiwan Church News Posts of 2012 – Part Two
Reported by staff reporters
Translated by Lydia Ma
As Taiwan Church News looks back on 2012, there were many touching stories and ministries in the past year within the PCT for which we are especially grateful to God. To remember these PCT events and ministries, we would like to take our readers down memory lane and review some of the highlights of 2012.
However, Taiwan also faced many challenges in 2012 and Taiwan Church News has reported many stories to highlight these darker moments. Much of our coverage is a reflection of the PCT, which is a church “rooted in this land, identifying with all its inhabitants” and a church which has been entrusted to take care of its homeland and the world. For these reasons, we felt compelled to compile a second set of “Top 10 Posts” relating to stories that have affected Taiwanese society at large.
Without further due, here are our top 10 Taiwan headlines for 2012 in no particular order:
1. Concern for former President Chen Shui-bian’s human rights: Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan and Taiwan Justice Action Church held a cross-country march from November to December to call for the release of former President Chen Shui-bian so that he could receive medical attention. They also called for the dismissal and replacement of all the members of the Special Investigation Division, the resignation of the Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu and Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming, and the approval of a bill to establish a jury system. A prayer meeting was held on Ketagalan Boulevard on the night of December 8. The 2 organizations also “caroled” in front of the Presidential Palace, the Department of Justice, and Presidential Residence on December 24.
2. Freedom Lane named in memory of Cheng Nan-jung: 2012 marked the 25th anniversary since the lifting of Martial Law in Taiwan. However, 23 years ago, democracy activist Cheng Nan-jung set himself on fire to avoid arrest and died. To remember him, the small alley in Taipei where Cheng died was renamed “Freedom Lane”. Taipei Mayor, Hau Lung-pin was present at the unveiling ceremony. Ironically, freedom of the press and freedom of speech were compromised a few weeks later with the merger of Want-Want China Times Group and the China Network Systems.
3. Monopolization of the media: The acquisition China Network Systems and Next Media Group by Want-Want China Times in 2012 caused mayor controversy and concern in Taiwan. People had much to feel nervous about, as one major conglomerate headed by media magnate Tsai Eng-meng, will now control most of the media networks. Tsai has openly supported the repressive regime in China and has interfered many times with the reporting and editing of news stories in Taiwan. In response to these two acquisitions approved by the government, many protests broke out throughout Taiwan. Protestors included college students, professors, media associations, etc.
4. Siraya indigenous peoples fight for name rectification through cross-country campaign: Big and small demonstrations have taken place since 2009 to raise awareness on the plight of Sirayans to obtain government recognition of their indigenous identity. Though their latest appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court on August 9, Sirayans are determined to keep fighting for their rights. To raise awareness about their plight and shore up support, they embarked on a nationwide campaign in November using a campaign vehicle. The vehicle moved at a speed of 20 km/hr and had loudspeakers able to project their message. Other activities, including concerts and seminars, were also held in the aftermath of the court’s decision.
5. Indigenous villages in Taoyuan marginalized as the city is upgraded to a special municipality: The Ministry of the Interior approved a bill that would make Taoyuan County a Special Municipality (directly controlled municipality) beginning in 2013. This change has raised a lot of concern in indigenous villages because former townships with elected officials would henceforth be downgraded into regions with appointed officials. Indigenous groups became worried that the change would threaten their rights and privileges and self-autonomy and force them to live under the tyranny of the majority.
6. Taiwanese protest against nuclear energy: In the aftermath of the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan, the number of people in Taiwan opposed to nuclear energy rose. People’s fears proved to be well-founded as news about problems in a few nuclear power plants in Taiwan became headline news in 2012. Furthermore, all 4 of Taiwan’s nuclear plants were included in the Wall Street Journal’s list of the 14 most dangerous nuclear plants in the world. Tens of thousands of people across Taiwan took part in a rally on March 11, 2012 to express their opposition to nuclear energy. President Ma’s statement that “no person” had opposed Taiwan’s nuclear policies gave rise to the popular slogan “I am a person and I oppose nuclear energy”.
7. Alangyi granted protection through special designation: Just before the Lunar New Year of 2012, people concerned about the preservation of Alangyi Ancient Trail received a great new year’s gift: On January 20, Pingtung County passed a legislation that would henceforth make the area between Hsuhai and Guanyi Cape as a “Nature Reserve”. This new status meant that the ancient trail and the last remaining natural coastline in Taiwan would not be destroyed by attempts to extend Highway 26, which would cut through the ancient trail. The PCT was one of the groups advocating for the preservation of Alangyi and PCT Associate General Secretary Lyim Hong-tiong said that Alangyi Trail is ecologically and culturally priceless, which should be preserved for future generations to enjoy. He also suggested that local churches across Taiwan take their congregations there for an ecological exposure tour.
8. Illegal construction of Meiliwan Resort draws controversy: The Meiliwan controversy began 9 years ago when Taitung County partnered with the Miramar Group to build a beachfront resort hotel in Shanyuan Bay to boost the local economy. However, procedural laws and environmental impact assessment requirements were breached during the construction phase of the resort, prompting public outcry. Not only was the size of resort purposely under-reported, the resort also infringed on indigenous peoples’ lands. The environmental evaluation committee determined upon review that the Meiliwan Resort was illegal. However, Taitung County removed some members of the committee who opposed the project and replaced them with their own people. The Supreme Court ruled in January 2012 that Taitung County had illegally issued building permits and construction should be halted before an environmental impact assessment is passed. However, Taitung County interpreted this as a sign to go ahead with construction as long as an assessment is later added. The Supreme Court ruled in November 2012 that the resort was an illegal building and ordered the Ministry of the Interior to demolish it. However, during a closed-door meeting between Pingtung County and the MOI on December 22, a conditional permission was granted though the terms and conditions discussed were not substantial. Environmental activists have vowed to take action to protect Shanyuan Bay.
9. Government and corporations collude in Wenlin Urban Renewal Project: The Wenlin Urban Renewal Project was a major controversy in 2012. The incident prompted Taiwanese people to re-examine the Urban Renewal Act. In late March, Taipei City demolished the Wang family’s home on behalf of developers because the family refused to be included among neighbors who had agreed to be part of the Wenlin Project. The incident drew more than 1,000 police officers to the scene as many people had come forward to support the Wang family. It was apparent from this incident that the government was not monitoring developers when it came to urban renewal, but rather, acquiescing to them.
10. Priests and nuns protest rezoning and requisitioning of half of the land belonging to a Catholic Church in Taichung: For the first time in the history of the Catholic Church in Taiwan, clergy and parishioners took to the streets. Their protest stemmed from a land requisition and consolidation plan in Nantun District by Taichung City as part of an Urban Renewal Plan. The plan would force a local Catholic Church to lose half of its land. PCT Taichung Presbytery also came out to support the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was demolished in December 2012.