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June 24, 2017

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Pingtung government fines Yoho for illegal expansion

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Pingtung County Government yesterday fined the Yoho Beach Resort NT$120,000 for illegally expanding its hotel's operating area.

The government also demanded the resort immediately cease operations in its new, illegally developed hotel areas.

According to the county government, the resort's owner was told to stop expansion work on the hotel grounds. Yoho then failed an inspection on Monday as it was found to still be operating the illegally developed areas.

Yoho was fined NT$120,000 for violating the Act for the Development of Tourism, and may be fined again if it fails another inspection.

Pingtung Deputy Magistrate Chung Chia-ping (鍾佳濱) said that the county government will allow Yoho's first and second areas, which were legally developed, to continue to operate until the operating license is revoked.

Chung said that some Pingtung officials were sent to the resort to restate that the areas outside the first and second areas of the Yoho resort cannot be legally operated as part of a hotel.

According to Chung, the resort owners could receive fines if they keep operating the illegally developed areas as hotels.

The major Kenting resort, which opened in 1999, was told to suspend operations and expansion on May 3 after the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) learned that Yoho never underwent a mandatory government assessment of its impact on the environment.

Gov't Should Revoke Yoho Permit to Avoid Protests: Shen

The county government should follow a resolution reached at a cross-departmental meeting on Monday to revoke the Yoho Beach Resort's business permit as soon as possible to avoid environmentalists initiating a protest, EPA Minister Stephen Shen said yesterday.

"Even though the resolution does not have legal weight," Shen said, "there are still related documents to support the resolution that the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA), the EPA, the Kenting National Park Administration, and the Pingtung government reached at the meeting."

Shen said that the CPA, on the other hand, will be responsible for revoking the resort's license.

"If environmentalists can walk from the East Coast of Taiwan to Taipei's Ketagalan Boulevard to protest against the Miramar project, they can definitely walk to Kenting to protest against any potential poor handling regarding the Yoho resort," Shen said.

According to Shen, the Pingtung government will also be responsible for fining the owner of the Yoho resort between NT$300,00 and NT$1.5 million in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Act, and punishing the owner for the illegal income received since 2006, in accordance with the Administrative Penalty Act.

Yoho Water, Power may be Cut Off Right Away: CPA

The CPA said yesterday that if the Pingtung government does not cancel the resort's operating license, the agency is legally entitled to immediately cut off the water and power supplies to the hotel's four new areas.

CPA Deputy Director Hsu Wen-lung (許文龍), however, said that the agency will still wait for the EPA's final documents to arrive before considering whether to cut off water and power to the illegal developed areas.

Hsu said that all income the Yoho owner has received from illegal operations can still be claimed back by the government.

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