It is too difficult to buy a house and there are too many old houses. This has become a hot topic in Taiwan’s election campaign. In an exclusive interview with “Lianhe Zaobao” in Taipei, Singapore’s urban planning master Liu Taige suggested that Taiwan’s new government, which will take office next year, might as well build a model community first. Once the standards are met, it will be promising. Won the support of voters and break the eight-year curse of party rotation.
85-year-old Liu Taige accepted an exclusive interview with this newspaper on November 3 when he attended the International Forum of Dadaocheng 170th Anniversary Old Street Cultural Festival in Taipei. He joined the Housing and Development Board in 1969 and served as the Secretary of the Housing and Development Board from 1979 to 1989. During this period, he also served as the Chief Architect. From 1989 to 1992, he served as the Secretary and Chief Planner of the Urban Renewal Authority. He has also assisted in the overall planning of Yilan County in Taiwan and planned for nearly 50 cities in mainland China.
Young people in Taiwan generally cannot afford to buy a house. More than half of the houses in Taiwan are more than 30 years old. Many elderly people live in dangerous buildings with five floors and no elevators. This is the most pressing livelihood issue for the people. Facing the presidential and legislative elections on January 13, 2024, two months later, the blue, green, and white candidates have all proposed housing policies. The focus of discussion is on increasing the number of social housing units for rental housing. As for whether they can meet the standards and solve the long-term problem of buying a house. , the old problem of renovating houses is still full of doubts.
When interviewed, Liu Taige bluntly said that it is better to take action than to sit back and talk. He suggested that the new Taiwanese government that takes office next year might as well find a piece of land that is easier to expropriate and carefully build a model community similar to a satellite town in Singapore. There are a total of 24 satellite towns in Singapore. Except for the latest Tengah New Town, Liu Taige participated in the planning of all of them.
He said that in 1969, he just joined the Housing and Development Board and participated in the land acquisition and construction of Toa Payoh Satellite Town. At first, public opinion was full of opposition. Many people were unwilling to move from old houses to high-rise buildings. However, after three or four years, the direction of public opinion changed and many people were reluctant to move from old houses to high-rise buildings. Readers wrote in books and newspapers complaining that they had not been able to wait for demolition for several years.
He believes that the key to the change in trend lies in the government’s commitment to building public housing to ensure high quality and low prices, and to build commercial areas, industrial areas, schools and various livelihood facilities to provide residents with employment opportunities and meet their daily needs, attracting attention from other communities. Relatives and friends are envious and “jealous”.
The standard should be achieved within two presidential terms.
Liu Taige assessed that it would take seven or eight years for Taiwan to build a satellite town model community. As long as there is determination, the target should be achieved within two presidential terms. “When people have confidence in the government, they will continue to vote for it. You see, Singapore’s ruling party has been in power for more than half a century and still has the support of the people.”
Low Taiga also recalled that during his 10 years as director of the Housing and Development Board, the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, the two met “more than 70 times” in total. They implemented legal principles by implementing land acquisition laws, allowing homeowners to appeal and respecting professionalism. public policy on public relations, democracy and good governance.
Planning plans must be submitted before land acquisition
Establish a mechanism for homeowners to receive reasonable compensation
He said that Lee Kuan Yew personally told him that as a democratic country, Singapore must clearly explain the planning plan before expropriating land, implement it one by one afterwards, and establish a mechanism for homeowners to seek reasonable compensation, so as to build mutual trust between the government and the people.
Dadaocheng Old Street, located in Datong District, Taipei City, by the Tamsui River, was built in 1853. It still retains its historical buildings and hosts a wealth of commercial and cultural activities. Liu Taige believes that the ability to preserve old buildings from different eras is Dadaocheng’s greatest feature and advantage; Taiwan’s vitality of folk culture and deep foundation in building software are also worthy of Singapore’s comparison.
Singapore has preserved more than 7,200 old buildings and monuments that are more than half a century old. Low Taiga said that when he was the Secretary of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, he persuaded the government to preserve about 5,000 of them. As for which of the monuments recommended for preservation impressed him the most, Liu Taige said that the restoration of the building at No. 9 Neil Road, Tanjong Pagar District, which is currently used as a teahouse, has great demonstration significance.
He said that at that time, a French prefabricated construction company could not bear the Singaporean government’s frequent demolition of old buildings, so it suggested to Liu Taige that they find a building and ask them to help repaint the exterior walls to see if they could convince the Singaporean people and government to preserve the monuments. Liu Taige seized the opportunity and found No. 9 Neil Road. He described that after the painting was completed, the eyes of the people and officials were bright, and they found that “Cinderella turned into a princess”, which also provided a persuasive and excellent example for the preservation of old buildings in the future.