Lincoln residents are still waiting

Lincoln Mansions residents appeal to the Legislative Yuan yesterday for aid in reconstruction work. It has been more than two years since Typhoon Herb caused a mudslide that destroyed Lincoln Mansions, killing 28 people. PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG,

The Legislative Yuan has again heard about the plight of residents of Lincoln Mansions, but those still forced by heavy loans to live in dangerous apartments say nothing concrete has been done
By Yu Sen-lun

On just second day of the new legislative session, a group of lawmakers said the time has come to resolve the compensation issue for residents of the disaster-stricken Lincoln Mansions in Hsih-chi, Taipei County. Some 200 apartments collapsed in a landslide at the development two years ago, killing 28 residents.
Those in charge of the compensation issue came under fire once again from both residents and legislators. They urged the government come up with alternative measures to solve problems left in the wake of the tragedy. They want a budget created to buy back the apartments so that the residents -- many of whom are still paying hefty mortgages -- can finally move out.
Yesterday was the third time the legislature has held such a forum in the last 13 months. Last October, a meeting hosted by by DPP lawmaker Fan Shun-lu (范巽綠) reached the same conclusions. This time, it was KMT lawmaker Chou Hsi-wei's (周錫瑋) turn.
"We hope it's the last time a forum is held about this," he said.
With no legal basis for the government buy-out, however, officials merely said they would take suggestions for further consideration. Over 100 residents attended the forum to plead for a way out of their predicament.
As in previous meetings, they told the lawmakers of both the obvious dangers and illegal status of their buildings. Most of them said they were tired of negotiation.
"I'm not supposed to be here. I'm supposed to work like a normal person to help patients in the hospital where I am employed," said a resident, who had been taking days off to join the forums.
Chen Rei-jen (陳瑞仁), a prosecutor in charge of the Lincoln Mansions case, said he had suggested a plan 10 months ago, but received no response.
"I am now proposing the idea again," he said. "The government should buy up the dangerous buildings and make it a training center for judicial officials."
KMT legislator Lee Chin-an (李慶安) blamed the government for incompetently dealing with the problem.
She said low-level officials were being made scapegoats for the government's blunders while residents were still being neglected.
"How many homes can a citizen afford in one lifetime?" she said.
Many lawmakers echoed Lee's sentiments, including the KMT's Chen Shue-saint (陳學聖), the DPP's Chou Ya-shu (周雅淑) and Chu Hui-liang (朱蕙良) of the New Party.
Deputy Minister of the Interior Lin Join-sen (林中森) said sympathetically that the ministry would "study the ideas proposed by experts and lawmakers."
However he was soon interrupted by impatient residents.
"We've heard the same thing before. We want substantial plans," residents shouted.
Lee Hsian-heng (李咸亨), a professor at Taiwan University of Science and Technology, said the main reason residents had rejected the government's plan to reconstruct the dangerous buildings was a distrust of the safety process.
Chou Hsi-wei said legislators present at yesterday's forum would urge the Ministry of the Interior to work on the plan to re-locate residents. If the ministry proposes a budget for the plan, then the legislators will rubber-stamp it, he added.

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