Austin Ramzy reports in NYT reported on Tsai's history-making apology to the Aboriginal Peoples of Taiwan:
Taiwan’s earliest known residents are believed to have come to the island 6,000 years ago or earlier from Southeast Asia and are part of the Austronesian peoples who range from Madagascar to Polynesia. When Han settlers from mainland China began arriving in the 17th century, indigenous peoples, particularly those on Taiwan’s western plains, faced assimilation, loss of land and outright violence.This apology was preceded by demonstrations, chronicled by Brian Hoie at New Bloom.
Today, indigenous groups face high levels of unemployment, low wages and less access to education and other services.
“Another group of people arrived on these shores, and in the course of history, took everything from the first inhabitants who, on the land they have known most intimately, became displaced, foreign, non-mainstream and marginalized,” Ms. Tsai said.
In particular, indigenous demonstrators were demanding concrete action on the economic inequality and unequal distribution of resources faced by indigenous. As a result of economic inequality, the average life expectancy of indigenous are 8 to 9 years less than their Han counterparts in Taiwan, for example. Moreover, apart from that traditional ways of life continuing to be threatened, indigenous communities face the threat of land seizures and appropriations, it also is that the Indigenous Basic Law is sometimes not enforced except at a local level, and even then, the Indigenous Basic Law has its own flaws which remain to be rectified.After the speech, there were more demonstrations, but several knowledgeable individuals present said that the demonstrators were different from the ones who had been there the evening before the speech, and appeared to be fakes aimed at the cameras.
My friend Drew at the nuclear waste dump on Lanyu in 2014
There were many high points. Among them, Tsai mentioned the obnoxious nuclear waste dump on Orchid Island...
I will also direct relevant agencies to present an investigative report on the decision-making process of nuclear waste storage on Orchid Island. Before finding a permanent solution for the nuclear waste, we will provide the Yami tribe appropriate compensation....a perfect metaphor for the way the Han treated the Aborigines historically. The dump needs to be moved, and the Aboriginals compensated. The Lanyu people complained that Tsai's words contained nothing concrete and did not specifically mention removal.
Another highly welcomed note was the recognition of the Pingpu (lowland) aborigines as a formal group:
At the same time, under the principle of respecting the Pingpu ethnic group's self-identity, and recognizing their identity, we will examine relevant laws before September 30 of this year, so that Pingpu ethnic group identity will receive the rights and status it deserves.The Pingpu were shapers of the Taiwan identity and the culture of the Han colonizers in ways that are little understood, just as the European encounter with the peoples of eastern North America had a huge impact on the subsequent American culture.
Tsai also addressed the ongoing sore point of aboriginal hunters arrested for legally hunting on designated lands.
These were all things that were welcomed by many listeners who were not aborigines, but they did not go far enough for many aboriginal groups. For example:
“The problem is that [Tsai] has chosen not to return to [former president] Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) New Partnership quasi-state relationship, not even mentioning it in her remarks,” said Association for Taiwan Indigenous People’s Policy president Yapasuyongu Akuyana, who is a Tsou.Aboriginal desire for a return to the quasi-state relationship had actually been mentioned in news reports of the previous day. KMT aboriginal legislators stayed away, another demonstration of the way the KMT remains out of touch. Taiwan Law Blog observed that Tsai did not mention any of the international laws and agreements on aboriginal peoples.
Chen, of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in 2002 signed a New Partnership Accord promising autonomy and partnership through state-to-state relationships with Aborigines, but the accord was ignored by the government of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Words are nice, but now, we need to see action.
UPDATE: KMT Chairman Hung's hilarious words from the KMT News Organ:
Hung questioned whether or not Tsai was making use of aboriginal perspective of history to eliminate Han Chinese People’s perspective of history, or even engaging in desinicization to create a new perspective of history. “It is inevitable that people will question the DPP’s real motives,” added Hung.
REF: Apology in English translation (original Chinese)
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