The Taichung City Government on Monday sent officials to inspect an alleged illegal building in the city’s Longjing District (龍井) registered in the name of the wife of Yen Kuan-heng (顏寬恒), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidate in a Jan. 9 by-election for Taichung’s second electoral district.
Inspectors from the Taichung Land Administration Office were refused entry at the front gate and could only take photographs of the site, a mansion and gardens in a rural setting, from the outside.
Taichung City Councilor Cho Kuan-ting (卓冠廷) said he has obtained records from National Property Administration that show that it is an illegal structure as it was built on public land, portions of which are a protected area.
Construction of the mansion began in 2012 and it was registered in the name of Yen’s wife, Chen Li-ling (陳麗凌).
The inspectors said that they had been turned away, as the people inside, reportedly Yen’s family members, had refused to open the gate.
They said that official notification had been sent to the address, mandating that the local government inspection has a 14-day deadline and after that the Taichung Urban Renewal Bureau would have another 14 days to delineate the boundaries of the public land and protected area.
After that, notification could be sent to order the demolition of structures which are illegally occupying public land and the protected area.
Critics have said that would be after the by-election and it is too easy for Yen to drag the process out even longer.
Cho and other councilors have alleged that the Yen is being protected by Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) of the KMT, who is said to have good relationship with the family.
Yen has also been resisting demolishing another building, already deemed an illegal construction, in Nantun District (南屯), a private resort owned by the Yen family which covers more than 2,000m2.
The land is owned by the local government and is reserved for developing a children’s recreational park.
The city government had issued a Dec. 13 deadline for the Nantun building to be demolished, but Yen had only partially demolished an exterior wall and small sections of the main structure.
Taichung City Councilor Chen Shih-kai (陳世凱) said that Yen is using the same delaying tactics at both properties, but the city government has not taken action and it is shielding the Yen family’s illegal acquisition and occupation of public land.
Former legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) and Taichung City councilors have circulated a map of the city with more than 70 red dots, which they say are properties reportedly owned by the Yen family.
They allege that the Yen family has used illegal means, such as unpaid bank loans, illegal takeover of public land and rezoning to seize the properties, while most people cannot afford to buy just one property in most cities in Taiwan.
The Jan. 9 by-election was a result of Chen Po-wei being recalled in an Oct. 23 vote, when the KMT joined forces with the Yen family and other pan-blue groups to oust the former legislator.
Yen has disclosed his personal assets ahead of the election — 67 plots of land and 10 buildings, mainly in the Taichung area, bank deposits of NT$27 million (US$975,257) and stock valued at NT$13.84 million.
Financial expert Hsu Chin-huang (徐嶔煌) estimated Yen’s net worth at more than NT$1 billion.
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