By Tsai Tsun-hsien and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA
Chen Wen-hung (陳文弘), mayor of Pingtung County’s Hengchun Township (恆春), on Thursday condemned recently created illegal graffiti on the township’s Old City Wall, saying that the acts of vandalism were “heartbreaking.”
Four graffiti have been found during an inspection on the section of the wall between the western and northern gates, Chen wrote on Facebook.
Chen also posted photos of the graffiti, with one reading “Meili [美麗], Lijhen [麗貞] and Jiege [傑哥] were here, Jan. 17,” and another containing the lyrics of a pop song.
Photo: Tsai Tsung-hsien, Taipei Times
Damaging cultural heritage contravenes the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法), and is punished with up to five years in prison or a NT$20 million (US$707,314) fine, he said.
The township office reported the graffiti to the police, and those who wrote the graffiti would be held accountable, he said.
The Hengchun Old City Wall was built in 1875 and is the most fully preserved city wall in Taiwan, Chen said, adding that to restore the wall after several natural disasters, the township had spent immense time, effort and money.
“It is heartbreaking that this is happening… I have to shake my head at the deeds of these so-called tourists,” Chen said.
Although one of the graffiti was written in simplified Chinese, those who created it are almost certainly Taiwanese, as Chinese cannot travel to Taiwan due to COVID-19 restrictions, he said.
Local police are reviewing security camera footage from the area to identify the culprits, the Central News Agency reported.
In other news, the Taitung County Government has fined two people NT$30,000 each for entering the historic Alangyi Trail without a permit, it said on Thursday.
Hikers in groups of up to 10 people must apply for a permit eight days before their planned trip, it said, adding that each group must be supervised by a guide.
Those who contravene the regulations would be fined NT$30,000 to NT$150,000, the Taitung government said, citing the preservation act.
Applications should be sent to the authorities in Nantian Village (南田) in Taitung’s Dajen District (達仁) or Syuhai Township (旭海) in Pingtung’s Mudan Township (牡丹).
Trespassers who have been caught in the past said that they had tried to avoid paying the NT$750 fee, that the application process was too troublesome, or that they sent an application, but it had not been granted, the Pingtung County Government said.
It fined five hikers for entering the trail without a permit last year, it added.
The 8.4km Alangyi Trail runs from Taitung to Pingtung and about 40,000 people walk it every year.
Formerly, hikers had to apply in Pingtung, which in 2012 created the Syuhai Guanyin Cape Nature Reserve to protect the environment along the trail.
Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪) and Wu Li-hwa (伍麗華) had campaigned for the opening of the northern trailhead in Taitung, and since last year, up to 50 hikers per day are allowed to enter from there.
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