Losheng Sanatorium

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Administration Building of Losheng Sanatorium

Losheng Sanatorium (Chinese: 樂生療養院; pinyin: Lèshēng Liáoyǎngyuàn) is a hospital for lepers, which is located in Xinzhuang District, New Taipei City (formerly Taipei County), Taiwan. Losheng means "happy life". It was constructed in the 1930s during the Japanese colonial period.

At present there has been heated debates and protests about the plans to replace Losheng Sanatorium with a MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) depot.[1]

History[edit]

Losheng Sanatorium, originally named Rakusei Sanatorium for Lepers of Governor-General of Taiwan Taiwan Sōtokufu Raibyō Rakuseiin (臺灣總督府癩病療養樂生院?), was built in 1929 during the Japanese colonial period and served as an isolation hospital for leprosy patients at that time. The Japanese government forced leprosy patients to live in this hospital. The first 5 buildings could house more than 100 patients.

During the 1930s, Losheng Sanatorium was the first leprosy hospital and the only public sanatorium for leprosy patients in Taiwan. It was designed for quarantine and treatment of lepers. With a force of sanitary police and medical officers; investigation, quarantine, and imprisonment of lepers was conducted thoroughly in the period from 1934 till the end of colonial governance of Japan. As a result, Losheng Sanatorium became the institution of compulsory quarantine as well as lifelong imprisonment for thousands of leprosy patients.[1] The successive KMT regime inherited the policy in its early years.

After the discovery of new Leprosy treatment, patients were later allowed to leave Losheng Sanatorium since 1954. However, many of them who had undergone chronic isolation and faced discrimination had little choice but to stay and have grown used to the settings.[2]

In 1994, the Department of Taipei Rapid Transit System (DORTS) planned to build a depot in the site where Losheng Sanatorium is. Although the government built a new hospital building nearby for settling the patients, the proposed demolition of the original compound still brought a series of debates and later a preservation movement. According to the survey conducted in March 2006, there are still 165 Losheng residents living in the new hospital building and 52 living in the old compound or other places.

Debates and preservation movement[edit]

Map of Xinzhuang Line zone DK196. The planned site for Xinzhuang depot includes the Sanatorium.

In 1994, Taipei Rapid Transit System planned to build a depot on the site where now the Sanatorium is. Chen Ching-Chuan (陳京川), the ex-director of Losheng, was opposed to this decision, and did three surveys among the patients to see what they thought and needed, shortly before he got demoted and reprimanded. Ever since then, the patients have had no access to the MRT construction plans and its related discussions.[citation needed]

Fight for preservation[edit]

In 2001, due to the construction of Xinzhuang Line, the government planned to transform Losheng to a community hospital, thus put an end to its dedicated hospitalization and care for leprosy patients. Many students, urban planners and NGO tried to protect this sanatorium ever since then.[citation needed]

In 2002, the new housing projects, Huei Long Hospital (迴龍醫院) was initiated, but instead of ‘houses’ which were earlier promised to the patients, the new director gave them two tall buildings with modern hospital facilities. It became clear that the new administration team intended to run a hospital business. The skyscraper-ish hospital buildings were designed mainly for housing short-term patients; therefore it has inadequate space for residents to move around freely. Moreover, the hospital management team forbids the patients from bringing with them personal belongings, from cooking, and from coming over to the front building, which policy is nothing less than discriminative.[citation needed]

Long before the depot construction was initiated, Loshen’s ex-director and history professionals have demanded a large-scale inspection of Losheng’s position as a historical site. The scholars appealed to the MRT Department that they should spare the Losheng Sanatorium, while they unanimously agreed the entire site should be preserved. However, the officials unilaterally terminated the process of inspection, and decided the Sanatorium should be torn down entirely.[citation needed]

It was not until 2004, when Prof. John K.C. Liu (劉可強) came up with a symbiosis plan, and when the Council for Cultural Affairs has deemed the Sanatorium a historical spot, that the MRT Department was pressured to rethink the possibilities of preservation.[citation needed]

Reasons for preservation[edit]

People who claimed that the Losheng Sanatorium should be preserved have raised the following issues:

The MRT depot was originally planned to be built Yingpan (營盤) near Fu Jen Catholic University (FJU, 天主教輔仁大學), and Fu Jen University Station should be the terminal station, which is why the number of that station is O1, meaning "first station of Orange Line".

But the plan was altered by local politicians. It has been asserted that this is wrong for the following reasons[citation needed]:

  1. Waste of money: 3/5 of the depot site needs to be built on flatland; therefore $90 million (USD) will be spent on flattening and improving the soil.
  2. Disaster for the environment: After flattening the mountain, a ten-story retaining wall will remain, destroying the natural environment.
  3. Safety concern: The future depot will be situated upon earth faults.
  4. Ravaged historical site: The Losheng Sanatorium is an important cultural asset for people in East Asia. The depot construction will turn it all into dust.
  5. Ordeal for patients: The patients are forced to leave the place they spent their lives, suffering mentally and physically from the displacement.
  6. Autocratic decision-making: The MRT Department never inquired the needs of Losheng patients—the ‘residents’ of the site—which is a violation of fundamental human rights.

It was also argued that the Losheng Sanatorium should be an accredited World Heritage site. It has witnessed the inhumane treatment (such as discrimination and compulsory quarantine) of the lepers, who had undergone 70 years of government oppression.

Doubts for the 90% plan[edit]

In the press release issued by the Council for Cultural Affairs (CCA, 文建會) on Jan. 23, 2007, it was stated that “according to recent news, some local representatives and organizations in Taipei City and Taipei County claimed that the 90% Losheng preservation plan proposed by CCA will severely delay the MRT construction. Hereby CCA reiterates that the 90% preservation plan, evaluated by Hsin-Lu cooperation, will lengthen the construction period for about four months, and appends a three billion budget to it. It is not true to say the MRT construction will be delayed for two to three years.” This press release concludes that it is untrue for the media and Department of Taipei Rapid Transit System (DORTS, Taipei) to say that the 90% preservation plan will delay the construction of MRT for two to three years and result in a two to three hundred billion NTD (approx. 760 million USD) increase in budget.[citation needed]

Timeline[edit]

March 11, 2007

The activists held a sit-in protest in front of Premier Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) house, and demanded to negotiate with the Premier himself. The protestors, consisting of students and remaining Losheng patients, were later forced by the police into buses and immediately transported to suburban mountainous areas around Taipei City, and were ordered not to return to the scene that day.

March 16, 2007

There were scuffles as the authorities attempted to post the official notice issued by the Taipei County government to request the management of sanatorium to tear down the structure by April 16, 2007. Four students were arrested, and the protest organizers condemned police for the unnecessary violence against protesters.[2]

April 15, 2007

A protest march of thousands of people from all over the country took place in Taipei on the day which had been announced for the eviction of the remaining 45 residents of the Sanatorium. Hsu Po-jen (許博任) of the Youth Alliance for Losheng was reported as saying that more than 100 civic groups took part.[1]

May 30, 2007

The Public Construction Commission (公共工程委員會) of Executive Yuan ruled that 39 buildings of Losheng Sanatorium should be preserved, 10 to be reconstructed or reconstituted in selected locations, and 6 to be demolished.[3] The project budget would increase NTD 670 million.

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Loa Iok-sin (2007-04-16). "Thousands back saving Losheng Sanatorium". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2007-05-02. 
  2. ^ a b "Protesters arrested at sanatorium". The China Post. 2007-03-17. Retrieved 2007-05-02. 
  3. ^ 樂生保留方案:原地保留39棟、10棟擇要異地重建或重組 (in Chinese). Public Construction Commission, Executive Yuan. 2007-05-30. Retrieved 2007-05-31. [dead link]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 23°38′04″N 120°58′14″E / 23.63444°N 120.97056°E / 23.63444; 120.97056