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May 26, 2017

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Wang family member dismantles prefabs

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The drama surrounding the prolonged Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban renewal project took a turn yesterday, when a family member from the prominent "Wang family" case voluntarily dismantled the prefabs established on the site of the family's former home without informing his family members.

Having been dragged out for over five years, the "Wang family demolition" case is a well-known legal battle concerning the Wenlin Yuan urban renewal project. The family had been openly opposed to the urban renewal project, and they voiced their disapproval of a move to have two pieces of their land marked as urban renewal areas.

Regardless of the protests, the Taipei City Government proceeded with the project, which prompted the family to file a lawsuit against the city government.

However, the Wang family failed in their legal bid, starting a chain of events that prompted the Wenlin Yuan renewal project's construction consortium — Leyoung Construction Corp. (樂揚建設) — to demolish the property located on Wenlin Road in 2012.

An Unaffordable Game

Following the incident, the family began a petition to have their house restored, with support from the Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal (TAVUR, 台灣都市更新受害者聯盟). The family went on to erect prefabs shortly after the incident to occupy the ground in question, in hopes of stalling the construction of the project.

Leyoung then filed for a permit to take down the prefabs, submitting over NT$10 million in guarantees. In order to fight the court's decision, the Wang family was required to submit NT$17.56 million in counter-guarantees. Lacking the funds, the Wang family and TAVUR sought help from the general public and was successful in raising the amount, with Wang Kuang-shu (王廣樹), landowner of one-third of the land rights of the location, representing the entire family to submit the funds to the court on March 12.

Much to the family and their supporters' surprise, Wang's son and landowner of two-thirds of the land rights of the location, Wang Yao-teh (王耀德), appeared on site with contractors and voluntarily dismantled the prefabs without previously notifying any of his family members. Family member Wang Ching-chuan (王清泉), brother to Wang Kuang-shu and uncle to Wang Yao-teh, rushed to the site after catching wind of the event, but they were unable to prevent the demolition despite voicing their protest.

When questioned about the reasons behind his decision, Wang Yao-teh was quoted as saying that following the family losing the lawsuit, the project's construction consortium took yet another NT$200 million legal action against the family, which is "a game we can't afford to play."

Stating that he is the rightful owner and not his uncle, Wang Yao-teh completed the demolition of the prefabs early yesterday amid protests from his uncle and members of TAVUR. Supporters of the urban renewal project were also on the scene, and after a heated exchange, they became involved in a physical altercation with TAVUR members.

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