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Lai pledges to turn family house into museum amid illegal expansion claim

12/20/2023 11:52 PM
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Vice President and DPP's presidential candidate Lai Ching-te fights back against the criticism over his family house in the first televised policy presentation on Wednesday. CNA photo Dec. 20, 2023
Vice President and DPP's presidential candidate Lai Ching-te fights back against the criticism over his family house in the first televised policy presentation on Wednesday. CNA photo Dec. 20, 2023

Taipei, Dec. 20 (CNA) Vice President and ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te (賴清德) on Wednesday pledged to turn his New Taipei family house into a miners' museum amid criticism that the complex located in Wanli District was illegally expanded.

Speaking during a televised policy presentation for candidates contesting Taiwan's Jan. 13 presidential election, Lai said he is aware that his old family house has come under attack from the two main opposition parties, the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Taiwan People's Party (TPP).

Lai was referring to the fact that both the KMT and the TPP have accused his family of illegally expanding the property and claimed the building should have been torn down by the New Taipei City government years ago.

TPP legislator-at-large nominee Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) further accused Lai of not paying housing taxes on the Wanli property for over two decades, demanding the payment of back taxes and a fine for failing to do so.

In response, Lai reiterated Wednesday that his old family house is one of hundreds of renovated miners' housing units built decades ago in New Taipei, where there used to house several mining districts.

However, over the years the mining companies closed down and many of the original small housing units were purchased and gradually renovated into today's larger structures for safety reasons, according to Lai.

These housing units predate the current Regional Planning Act, passed in 1981, which prohibited unauthorized expansion, Lai said.

The New Taipei City government has yet to outline land planning following the termination of mining rights in the area, leaving residents without proper guidance in terms of housing renovation, he added.

Lai also cited a latest statement from the city government that people facing similar situations can apply to have such old housing units made legal.

Lai Ching-te's family house in Wanli District. (Image taken from google.com/maps)
Lai Ching-te's family house in Wanli District. (Image taken from google.com/maps)

He suggested that the New Taipei City government should give aid and protect the residential rights of people living in former mining areas.

Despite believing that his family house is not in violation of related regulations, Lai said he felt apologetic that it has become an issue of debate during the ongoing presidential race, which could jeopardize the rights of other residents living in similar renovated former miners' housing units.

Lai said hopefully a resolution can be found that protects the residential rights of his neighbors, most of whom are descendants of miners like himself.

In order to commemorate the contributions made by miners to the economic growth of Taiwan over the past century, Lai pledged that he would transfer the rights of the Wanli property to a "charitable trust" and prioritize turning it into a miners' museum, without providing further details of the plan.

According to Article 69 of Taiwan's Trust Law, the term "charitable trust" refers to a trust established for the purposes of promoting charity, culture, academic studies, craft, religion, religious sacrifice offering or other public interests.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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