Taiwan Activists Praise “Tree-Top” Man

8 Apr

timthumbBANGKOK: Taiwan activists are praising one man’s efforts to bring about change to the environmental policies of the East Asian country through his demonstration atop a tree. Dubbed the “tree-top” man, Pan Han-chiang has vowed to stay in his perch until a local council ends its controversial development project.

“I have so much respect for him and what he is doing,” environmental activist Li Xiun told Bikyanews.com as the protest entered its 12th day on Monday.

The government of New Taipei City, on the outskirts of the capital, plans to build a swimming pool and an underground parking garage in the grounds of a junior high school in the Panchiao district.

Despite objections from conservationists, some nearby residents and alumni and teachers of the school, a contractor started removing five out of the 32 targeted 40-year-old trees from the campus late last month.

In reaction, activist Pan, 46, climbed one of the trees on March 28 and has refused to come down, with meals and water supplied by his supporters on the ground.

“We will supply him with what he needs until the government changes,” said one of his supporters.

The sit-in has halted preparatory work on the project.

“This is the last method we can use now… the protest will continue indefinitely if the government decides to go ahead with the project,” his brother Pan Han-sheng was quoted by AFP as saying.

The city government insists that the project, estimated to cost Tw$310 million ($10.4 million), is designed to meet public demand and the trees will be replanted elsewhere.

But opponents question the wisdom of removing mature trees – many of them unlikely to survive transplantation – to build the swimming pool and especially the underground parking garage, which they say is unnecessary.

“These trees are part of the collective memory of tens of thousands of students graduating from the school. It is cruel to cast off their memory,” said Pan Han-sheng.

He said at least 3,000 people have expressed opposition to the project.

Cross posted from bikya.news

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