Tuesday, August 02, 2016

President Tsai Ing-wen apologizes to the Aboriginal Peoples of Taiwan

Tea near Shijhuo

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.

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.
This apology was preceded by demonstrations, chronicled by Brian Hoie at New Bloom.
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.

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).
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.

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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Jerome Besson said...

The natives and the sentry. When a picture is worth a thousand words.
「族人在大太陽底下外面排隊」 原住民:不懂道歉在哪裡
2016年08月01日 12:03
…. All wrong !!!….

America, take stock of what has been done in your name…
… and self-reflect… ask yourself,
…. For what result?

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael, A good step by Tsai. A start. I've actually come to ask another question, however: I've just been listening to the latest Sinica podcast at SupChina. The interviewee has written a book on how China and the US need to build trust so as to avert serious military conflict. A fine and sensible aim. The example of Taiwan is discussed and the claim made that Taiwan and China showed a great improvement in relations during Ma's time in office. Have you written anything on this supposed improvement under Ma? A link/s would be appreciated. The podcast below.


Michael Turton said...

I haven't debunked that myth. But you're right, that would be a good thing to take on.

Anonymous said...

Tsai can make all the apologies she wants to but in order to successfully bring the Aboriginals over from the KMT, she will have to deliver tangible benefits to them which may be difficult because many DPP legislators represent constituencies that are not on the same page as Tsai regarding the Aboriginals.

Anonymous said...

The real key issue is that Tsai's apology shifts the official view of Taiwan from the primordialist standpoint of Chinese sovereignty as outlined in the two Chinese nationalist programs (ROC and PRC, to one of coloniality, and therein robbing the ROC and PRC of
their territorial claims, which seek sovereignty in the integration of a Han racial nation. Tsai has effectively moved the goalposts and repositioned Taiwan outside of the Chinese nationalist paradigm.

Michael Turton said...

Well put. Yes, that's why Hung instantly identified it as pro-independence. She knew in her bones what she was hearing.

an angry taiwanese said...

Reading the comments above let me see a new light for Taiwan independence.
It looks like that whoever is willing to take responsibility for whatever the evils done to, in, and from Taiwan has the right to the sovereignty of Taiwan.

I am thinking of a few of that.
1. beheading of indigenous people by other indigenous people.
(If Taiya 泰雅 Tribe apologizes for that, they can share the sovereignty right.)

2. slaughtering and oppression of the indigenous people by Ming Dynasty's runaway regime.
(Taiwanese leaders, like Chairs of DPP, NPP, 台聯, 自由台灣黨, 李登輝, 彭明敏, etc, should get together to apologize for that. AND take down Kuoxingga statue and demolish his temples.)

3. similar slaughtering and oppression during Qing Dynasty, for one, males of a tribe in Taitung by Qing Dynasty soldiers, mostly Han Chinese.
(Taiwanese leaders, like Chairs of DPP, NPP, 台聯, 自由台灣黨, 李登輝, 彭明敏, etc, should get together to apologize for that. AND demolish all related shrines and temples.)

4. slaughtering of Han Chinese in riots by Qing Dynasty with the helps of Hakkas.
(If Hakka leaders, like 吳伯雄, get together to appologize for them and demolish 義民廟, Hakkas can share the sovereignty right. To be honest, Hakkas will never be accepted as Taiwanese until they do that and I doubt they will in near future.)

5. slaughtering of people of Taiwan by Japanese colonists.
(who? how? for the apology)

6. cruel treatment of British POWs by Taiwanese soldiers in the Japanese Army during WWII.
(who? how? for the apology)

7. slaughtering and murdering of people of Taiwan by Chinese Nationalists.
(I believe someone still alive in the Chinese Nationalist knows who murdered Lin Yi-Hsiung's 林義雄 twin daughters and his mother. I doubt that person will ever come out to tell the world the secret. If Chinese Nationalist Leaders, like Ma, Hao, Hung, etc, unite together asking Chiang Kai-shek's temple and shrine to be abolished, that would be a good start. But I doubt they will ever just take that step.

8. the support of US government for the KMT.
(who? how? for apology)