I've made this point before, but it is worth making again: the Ma government's response to the typhoon disaster in the south is identical to its response to the economic crisis last year. The only difference is in the speed of events. As I noted then, the crisis had been used by the Ma Administration in a classic shock doctrine way, as leverage to get the shellshocked public to accept an accelerated approach to the ECFA
Article 12 would give central government and local governments the power to compulsorily order the removal of villages, naturally almost exclusively of indigenous peoples, from designated areas with no provisions for consultation with village assemblies or communities.The law allows for compulsory resettlement of indigenous people, and permits resettlement without regard for any other considerations -- environmental, water management, or the aboriginal basic law. Conglomerates and corporations are to determine how reconstruction funds are to be used, while the proposed Morakot Reconstruction Committee excludes (DPP) city mayors and county chiefs. Stripped of the fine verbiage, the legislation basically gives the funds directly to the construction-industrial state, with the added proviso that it can now move whole villages around without concern for what anyone says, and without concern for environment regulations or local culture. Disaster capitalism at its finest. The Committee...
Article 13 would permit the resettlement of disaster victims without regard to laws or regulations concerned with urban or rural planning, national park management, environmental impact assessment, water or soil conservancy or "other related laws," including the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law.
While Liu has stated that the principles of national land recovery will guide the effort, the fact that the KMT-controlled legislature boycotted the draft national land planning law and the draft national land recovery statute proposed by the former DPP government for over four years gives scant cause for optimism that the Liu Cabinet will promote this principle. In addition, the absence of city and county mayors and disaster victim or indigenous peoples representatives on the proposed national reconstruction commission has given rise to suspicions that the KMT government will bypass DPP city and county mayors and directly disburse funds and projects without hindrance from any civic monitoring, to township governments, most of which are run by KMT commissioners, in the run-up to year-end county elections.
Liu's declaration Sunday that donating conglomerates and businesses should participate directly in the process of deciding the utilization of reconstruction funds has sparked fears of a replication in southern Taiwan of the disastrous "reconstruction" of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina which witnessed the massive privatization of public services through top-down "shock capitalism" instead of bottom-up community based rebuilding....
.....which will be chaired by Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄), will have 30 officials from different government agencies, plus the heads of Delta Electronics, Uni-President Enterprises Corp, Taiwan High Speed Rail, China Steel and one university president and four professors.In other words, the national-level Typhoon Reconstruction Committee will be composed of the central government and powerful corporations.
The Taipei Times report notes that the legislation was not reviewed by the Executive Yuan and was being accelerated through the process for a vote tomorrow. The paper also has an extensive collection of comments from aboriginal groups in this piece, in which one aboriginal representative points out that the survey work has long been done and safe areas for resettlement in the mountains have already been identified.
The green light to forced resettlement without aboriginal participation has obvious implications for expansion of the construction-industrial state. In many areas local indigenous peoples are strongly against local public works projects even though they trickle down some funds to the community. As I wrote last week, there is much opposition to the massive Tsengwen Reservoir Diversion in the area, and the project is blamed for flooding that began even before this one -- after typhoon Kalmaegi last year many of the houses in Siaolin were mildly inundated with mud and water. Forced resettlement of indigenes will also removed one claimant to area resources such as land and timber. There will be fewer objections to illegal use of forest resources by Han farmers. Of course, removal of aboriginals will simply create an even larger pool of landless laborers living in marginal areas to help hold down local labor costs.
The Taipei Times drives home this point in an editorial today:
Mountain-dwelling Aboriginal people are likely to be the biggest losers. For more than 100 years, Japanese and Chinese governments have moved these villages closer to plains areas so that they could be better governed and controlled; in many cases these people were moved into the plains while still being administratively defined as “mountain Aborigines.” All throughout, Han officials took over management of most of the land for forestry, agricultural and tourism purposes, among others, frequently to the environment’s detriment.May Chin took a $3 million check from Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office for disaster relief.
Supporting this line of thinking are racists and speculators who want Aboriginal reservation laws repealed so that the land can be bought up, developed and sold; and Buddhist charity officials, whose otherwise faultless conduct has been stained by asking the largely Christian Aboriginal community to “return the mountains and forests to Mother Nature.”
Sadly, the present crop of Aboriginal legislators cannot be trusted to defend the interests of affected Aboriginal communities on matters of this gravity — and certainly not Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator May Chin (高金素梅), who is essentially an ambassador for Beijing — and even in the unlikely event that they mobilize to defend their constitutents, in all probability they will be ignored by party bosses.
The new National Reconstruction Commission, with its power to dispense funds to bypass county and city mayors in the affected areas and perhaps give them directly to township chiefs, highlights a couple of issues. For one thing, the possibility of direct money handouts to local township chiefs are reminiscent of the direct money handouts through consumer vouchers -- an apparent vote buying program -- and for another, it also highlights how the "Green" south isn't really "Green" but is actually a melange of Blue and Green at different levels of government. Whether or not the DPP government levels are bypassed, note that the money will be arriving in hard-hit communities just before the December election, among ethnic groups (aborigines in the mountains, the Hakkas of Chiadong and Linbian) with long-time support for the KMT.
UPDATE: SY has some great comments below -- and latest news is that the
*Mike Davis' awesome Late Victorian Holocausts is another must read in this area.
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