Can Public Hearings withstand Authoritarian Land Expropriation? — Case of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis Megaproject in Taiwan

Hsu, Shih-Jung (1); Liao, Li-Min (2) (2016). 'Can Public Hearings withstand Authoritarian Land Expropriation? --- Case of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis Megaproject in Taiwan' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract       The Taoyuan Aerotropolis is the biggest project that the state plans to perform in recent years. President Ma Ying-jeou strongly promoted it when he ran for his second term of presidency in 2012, and he titled it as one of his “Love Taiwan Projects.” The state and the Taoyuan City proclaim that it is a brand new smart, green, ecological, resilient and international city, and it will creates 300,000 new jobs and NT$ 7 trillion in revenue. The total area of the Aerotropolis project is around 4,791 hectare. Within it, the Ministry of Transportation will construct the Taoyuan Airport’s third runway, which is called the area of egg yolk. In addition, the Taoyuan City will establish many enterprise zones around the airport, which is called the area of egg white. The major argument for the establishment of the Aerotropolis would have on the economy, and it is very similar to the expansion of the Heathrow airport in London (Alkire and Deneulin 2009, 11).           Unfortunately, the Aerotropolis is not established in undeveloped vacant land. It will be built on population density area, and there are approximately 15,000 houses in this area and 46,000 residents face losing their homes and land. It means many houses will be demolished, and many people will be displaced from their homes. The government’s forcible land expropriation came like a bolt of lightning. The elderly peasants and residents of now find themselves at a loss, not knowing what will become of them. They have organized a grassroots organization and gone to Taipei several times to petition authorities saying that they don’t want to be kicked off their land and home. They also proclaim that their opinions have not been included in the decision-making processes. Apparently, the policy of Taoyuan Aerotropolis is lack of public reasoning and deliberative democracy (Deneulin 2009, 201). The policy of Aerotropolis is an ethical failing, and such harm toward local residents is not justifiable. In order to promote economic growth the authoritarian state is still willing to sacrifice human right. The coming forced eviction or displacement will become a serious social problem in Taiwan.           However, during the time of their protests, the Land Expropriation Act was revised in 2012 because of several strong demonstrations against another horrible case of land expropriation, the Dapu case. Nowadays, the Act requires that "those land expropriations taken place in special agricultural zone must hold public hearings abided by the Administrative Procedural Law, if there are serious disputes (Article 10)." The Taoyuan Aerotropolis Megaproject is the first case to hold public hearings in Taiwan history because most of its land is located in the special agricultural zone. According to the Law, those public hearings are divided into two stages: the prepared one and the official one. The prepared public hearings were held at last October, and the official public hearings will be held in April and May this year. It is very important to examine whether those public hearings can bring public reasoning and deliberative democracy into Taiwan's land expropriation policy. Can it be altered because of public hearings? Rights regarding displacement for development should include non-victimization, equitable sharing in benefits, good reason, and equitable empowerment (Penz, Drydyk, and Bose. 2011). The paper will also examine whether those actually or potentially displaced really own those development rights in the process of public hearings.

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