Tuesday, December 06, 2011

New Aboriginal Draft Law Slammed

There is nothing like ticking off a supportive minority constituency right before a tightly-contested election. The Taipei Times reports:
The statement said the Aboriginal autonomous act proposed by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration was a backward bill that violated the Constitution and the current global trend of respecting Aborigines’ rights.

Representatives from the coalition called on legislators to boycott the bill and also urged Aborigines not to vote for Ma and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the election Jan. 14 presidential and legislative elections.

Describing the bill as an “empty shell,” National Dong Hwa University College of Indigenous Studies director Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒) said the bill did not grant Aborigines their own land.

This being so, Shih asked how Aborigines could establish their autonomous regions.

He said the bill stipulated that Aborigines could establish offices and councils in their respective tribes, but it did not abolish current administrative districts. This means that any executive decisions made by tribal regions would have to negotiate with township and county governments, which means they would be likely to go nowhere.

Amis representative Konon Panay (古孟巴奈) said the central government did not define and grant Aboriginal lands, but it has been depriving Aborigines of their lands in the name of development.

The Eastern Development Act (東部發展條例) was approved in June by the legislature and aims to develop land in Hualien and Taitung counties, allowing big developers to destroy land traditionally owned by Aborigines and threatening to ruin the lives of Amis Aborigines, Panay said.
I pointed to some of problems resulting from the new act and in general, development on the east coast here. This should also be connected back to the long term "shock doctrine" use of the Morakot disaster as a way to lever mountain peoples off their lands so they can be "developed" without the inconvenience of Other People's Ownership. If you ride your bike around the lower altitudes of mountain areas of Taiwan, you will run across cookie cutter style homes, like this one in Majia Township in Pingtung at about 400m, into which local aborigines are being moved from the mountains.

That too is part of the historical drive of the various colonial governments of Taiwan to move the aborigines out of their mountain homes and take over those resources.

Aborigines are a key KMT constituency. Of course, so are the big businesses that support the KMT, so it is not difficult to see why this law is going through just prior to the election. Recall that even if Ma loses, there will be a four month interregnum before Tsai takes over. Although I don't subscribe to any of the wilder theories one hears floating around about what will happen, it is fairly obvious it will be giveaway time for government assets. With this new law just in time for that.... ADDED: Drew responds and elaborates.

The THRAC sent out a letter on the law this week

Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada calls on ROC Executive Yuan to withdraw draft Indigenous Autonomy Act
December 5, 2011

On December 5 the Indigenous People’s Action Coalition (台灣原住民族真實自治聯盟) held a press conference at the Legislative Yuan to protest against the Executive Yuan’s draft Indigenous Autonomy Act (原住民自治法草案). They decried it as “false self government” because it offers neither fiscal power nor land rights, and would be subject to the existing township/district governments.

THRAC supports the position of the Indigenous People’s Action Coalition, and makes the following statement:

(1) We support the right of Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples to Self Government

Indigenous self-government is a basic right of Taiwan Indigenous Peoples, and a hope for which they have struggled over many years. Indigenous self-government not only implies managing their own affairs, it also is beneficial to the development of self-identity, continuation of traditional culture, and possession and protection of natural resources in their traditional territories.

(2) The law should uphold the spirit of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

In that Declaration it states: Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions”.

The Executive Yuan draft Indigenous Autonomy Act offers an extremely low level of self governing authority, within which Indigenous people have no power to use and manage the resources on their land, and so seriously violates the spirit of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

3. The draft Indigenous Autonomy Act should be withdrawn and rewritten

The current draft essentially strips Indigenous peoples of their right to self government, and lacks the fundamental elements of real self-government. As a draft “without land, without fiscal authority, without real power” it should be withdrawn and rewritten, so as to give Indigenous people real autonomy.

Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada
President Michael Stainton and the Executive Committee
Toronto, Canada, December 5, 2011
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13 comments:

Jenna Cody said...

Ugh. I understand the historical reasons behind why the Aborigines typically vote blue, but to me it seems as incongruous as a working American mom supporting the GOP. There's a logical disconnect when one thinks about who is actually acting in one's interests.

I feel the same way about Hakka support for the KMT. Explained by history, sure, but no matter how much of a rivalry there might be between the Hakka and the Hoklo who make up the DPP base, it just is not true that the KMT works in the Hakkas' interest.

I'd say I feel the same way about support for the KMT by female voters (for a party with few, if any, major or notable female leaders), but at least they can point to a bunch of laws passed a few years before the DPP took the presidency in 2000 for justification.

Michael Turton said...

It's the same everywhere. During the 80s I was appalled at the populist union types voting for Reagan. What on earth could they have been thinking? I can't imagine why George Bush Lite got more than the few hundred thousand votes that constituted the monied classes. Yet voters are so consistent in voting against their own interests.... politicians really know how to sell fear and wedge issues....

Feiren said...

I can't find Scott Simon's published work on the subject, but he makes a good argument that there are important cultural reasons that explain KMT support in aboriginal communities. I don't think it's just history.

Hakka in the north support the KMT probably because they have benefited significantly from the activities of the development state there. Hakkas support the DPP in the south

Michael Turton said...

Feiren, I'll forward you my copy which I'll be blogging on later this wkeek.

Michael

Anonymous said...

If you ride your bike around the lower altitudes of mountain areas of Taiwan, you will run across cookie cutter style homes, like this one in Majia Township in Pingtung at about 400m, into which local aborigines are being moved from the mountains.

Do you know whether these are temporary homes or permanent homes. The permanent home that have been shown on TV looked very nice. I would not mind having one myself; however, the aborigines felt that they are not used to living as such. Even considering construction by the Government in the mountains, it needs to go though environmental evaluation which could take years. Yet, they have housing that seem pretty good to me, and still complain. This is what I see as not willing to plan things out against disasters, and blame others.

George

Michael Turton said...

They are intended to be permanent, George, as far as I know.

As for the rest of your comments, I'm sure the regulars will be chiming in soon.

Anonymous said...

"The permanent home that have been shown on TV looked very nice. I would not mind having one myself; however, the aborigines felt that they are not used to living as such. Even considering construction by the Government in the mountains, it needs to go though environmental evaluation which could take years. Yet, they have housing that seem pretty good to me, and still complain. This is what I see as not willing to plan things out against disasters, and blame others."


Ah yes, George the Han ethnocentrist lets the dumb flow again.

Remember colonialist George, as one of the chosen people under Chinese Nationalism, your views and tastes in modernity are the orthodoxy forced upon the "other".

A fine example might be on Orchid Island where the ROC government subjectively determined that the traditional Dao homes were "backward" and they should be transported through time into modernity by living in concrete homes, wearing "modern" clothes and working for "modern" industry.

This policy resulted in abandoned and decaying homes all over the island as the architects failed to understand Dao beliefs in appropriate architecture and ventilation. Now most of those old homes are used as goat sheds.

Moreover, by brining the Dao under the paternalistic wing of the ROC, in having them give up their traditional fishing culture for the military (often encouraged) government work, labor, airport work and of course... Taipower, they could be more easily matriculated into the ROC system and manipulated by more powerful political and social forces.

Many of the areas that had trouble during the typhoon would have been fine if they had never been forced to move and move into concrete homes in poorer locations, and moreover, they would likely have remained unscathed if government exploitation of natural resources and water diversion hadn't left the hillsides weak and prone to collapse.

The irony is that now the government that worked so hard to erode and undermine indigenous culture, now seeks to exploit traditional indigenous cultures for tourism.


"I see you as humans and as citizens of this city. I'm going to educate you well and do a good job of providing you with opportunities. That's the place from which the attitude of aborigines needs to be adjusted...now that you've come here, you need to play by the rules here..."--Ma Ying-jiu addressing Aborigines in Taipei

Robert Scott Kelly said...

Anon wrote:

"Many of the areas that had trouble during the typhoon would have been fine if they had never been forced to move and move into concrete homes in poorer locations, and moreover, they would likely have remained unscathed if government exploitation of natural resources and water diversion hadn't left the hillsides weak and prone to collapse. "

I'm sorry but this is PC nonsense. Anyone who has spent time in aboriginal villages knows that abuse of the natural environment is par for the course and in places like Sanmin and Baolai the over-farming on slopes was as much a contributing factor in the landslide as anything the government was doing nearby (and for what it's worth there is no evidence that drilling nearby was a factor). Pretending aboriginals are natural stewards of the land is as equally paternalistic as believing they are too simple to help themselves.

In any case, Michael, you shouldn't conflate the relocation of villages after Morakot with the development of the east coast. The former was necessary in most cases and has nothing to do with giving land to developers. NO ONE is going up the Namasiya River, to give one example, to develop that area except the locals. It's too fragile.

The government actually wants to stop development in the high mountains because they don't want to keep paying for maintenance of roads. The east coast, as I said, is another matter.

Anonymous said...

RSK


I think you are reading reading too much into the content of the quote. There is no "steward of the earth" nonsense in there.

Try again.

Anonymous said...

RSK

I think you are simplifying and misconstruing the leverage of state power against indigenes. This is a much more pervasive and far reaching force than what you portray.

Anonymous said...

The Indigenous Peoples Action Coalition of Taiwan is an anti development group so it is no surprise they have a consistent history of being anti-KMT. Despite IPAC being the "go to group" when the Taipei Times needs a quote about Aboriginies, I would not characterize the opinions of the IPAC as being representative of Aboriginies as a whole especially when their voting history is considered.

Robert Scott Kelly said...

To the various anons, I am not in any way shifting blame or excusing the behavior of the Taiwanese government. I know the history, and I know what conditions are like in the average aboriginal village. Aboriginals in Taiwan have been given a raw deal. That's not in doubt. But I think it is important to make a distinction between relocation based on the need to keep people safe, and the type of land grabbing we are seeing on the east coast.

Anon, apologies if you think I put words in your mouth.

Michael Turton said...

George, I am not exercising my authority KMT style. I am trying to prevent a flamewar from breaking out on my blog, which I will have to moderate.

Why don't you open your own blog?

Michael