Wednesday, August 02, 2017

One Year on: Tsai's failed apology?

IBM mobile computer: Data recorder used in 1961 agricultural census on Taiwan (photo from 1963 when it was being moved. By oxcart).

It's been a year since President Tsai made her apology to the aborigines. Failed promises?
Aboriginal rights campaigners yesterday condemned the government for having not carried out a promise to reinstate traditional Aboriginal territories, and they demanded that an independent agency be established to restore Aboriginal rights to land and transitional justice.


They criticized the guidelines the Cabinet released on Feb. 14 on the delineation of traditional Aboriginal territories, which would restrict the application of the “traditional area” label to government-owned land, explicitly excluding private land.

It would reduce recognized traditional territories from 1.8 million hectares to 800,000 hectares while companies would be allowed to develop traditional Aboriginal land that is now in private hands without the consent of local Aborigines, they said.

“Tsai promised that the government would prioritize the issue of traditional territories, but it turns out it is only limited to government-owned land,” Amis activist Panai Kusui said.
It is relatively easier to turn government-owned land into aboriginal land, but the issue of depriving landowners of land purchased legally under ROC law is much thornier and more political. Returning meaningful amounts of land to the aborigines would mean depriving Han landowners of their land, and also removing much land from the holding of private corporations. That will be costly to the Tsai Administration in the next election, and may well trigger the revival of powerful old prejudices and of anti-aborigine organizations which are now dormant (see this piece from 1999). The TT has an editorial today on aboriginal rights and the lack of progress....

A good example of how aborigines are screwed by the reality of Tsai Administration decisions was the mess over Asia Cement. A TT commentary from this week summarizes:
Following President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) official apology to the nation’s Aborigines on Aug. 1 last year, many assumed that the government would adhere to the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民族基本法) announced on Feb. 5, 2005.

However, on March 14, then-Bureau of Mining Affairs director Chu Ming-chao (朱明昭) approved an application by Asia Cement to renew its mining license near Taroko National Park for 20 years.

Chu’s retirement immediately after the approval has led to suspicions of a quid pro quo deal.

Late film director Chi Po-lin’s (齊柏林) observations of Asia Cement’s quarry in Hualien led to a public outcry over the renewal.

About 21,000 people petitioned the government to revoke the license, while environmentalists demanded that the government conduct an environmental impact assessment on the mining site and follow Article 21 of the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act.

Premier Lin Chuan (林全) ordered a review of the approval process.

On June 19, the Ministry of Economic Affairs confirmed that the license would be renewed, as it did not find anything illegal regarding the application.

Ironically, Tsai on July 14 presented a special award at Chi’s memorial service to his family for the director’s contribution to the nation.
Fudnamentally, there was an uproar over the approvals. The government re-investigated... and nothing was found to be wrong. Stupid. That factory has to go -- it is an easy symbolic move that costs Taiwan nothing (backgrounder here), would help the aborigines, would help the DPP with a wide swathe of voters, and would be a way for the Administration to meaningfully distance itself from the previous KMT Administration with deeds, not words.
Daily Links
Anders Corr wrote on Facebook:
My contract with Forbes was terminated for my article on Chinese influence at the Asia Society (see…/deleted-forbes-article-critic…/ for details). Panos Mourdoukoutas is now writing at Forbes, for example on the South China Sea. He writes, "Vietnam and India need to learn from President Duterte’s wisdom. They should ask Beijing before they make any drilling plans in China’s 'own sea.'" The article's language is pro-China, stilted, and has grammatical and typesetting mistakes. The analysis is paper-thin.

Forbes is 95% owned by the obscure Hong Kong-based "Integrated Whale Media" company and is well on the way to losing credibility in its foreign policy analysis. Having tested the limits of a Hong Kong-based media company, I'm now writing for my own, editing a book on the South China Sea for U.S Naval Institute Press, and for Routledge, writing a chapter on Chinese influence in the U.K.
HKFP report
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an angry taiwanese said...

Many things "would be a way for the Administration to meaningfully distance itself from the previous KMT Administration with deeds, not words", but the opposite is exactly the basic dispensation of Tsai personally and Tsai administratively.

Michael, you are late to join us Deep Greeners to speak out about one or two weird inexplicable flaws in Tsai's leadership. Explaining Tsai is beyond me; maybe you should try it.

B.BarNavi said...

I don't share Cole's pessimism that Taiwan's democratic polity can easily be threatened by China. For one, the generation that lived through martial law and democratization is still very much alive, and the tangwai activist tradition was passed down to the Sunflower Movement. Taiwanese are extremely protective of their democratic culture, even if the governments they elect can occasionally (okay, frequently) engage in bad behavior. China is only preaching to the choir.

Tommy said...

Forbes has a contributor model. Therefore, they have no inherent expertise in foreign policy analysis. All analysis will be as good as the contributors who work with them, or as bad.