Sat, Dec 25, 2010 - Page 8 News List

Saving our Aboriginal townships

By Alliance for the Protection of Aboriginal Rights in the Five

Open letter from the Alliance for the Protection of Aboriginal Rights in the Five Special Municipality Mergers:

When the special municipalities and the corresponding changes in regional political administration come into effect today, the five Aboriginal townships of Wulai (烏來), Hoping (和平), Namasia (那瑪夏), Taoyuan (桃源) and Maolin (茂林) will become part of New Taipei City (新北市, the new name of the upgraded Taipei County), Greater Tai-chung and Greater Kaohsiung.

However, due to serious flaws in the Local Governance Act (地方制度法), under the new system the status of these townships as public juristic persons will automatically be rescinded and they will have their rights to self--governance taken away. A systematic seizure of land and assets in Aboriginal townships will start and serious human rights abuses will occur in violation of the law, all of which will cast a pall over the changes that take place as the special municipalities are created. We therefore call on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the leaders of the aforementioned three special municipalities to take urgent action to save these five Aboriginal townships.

In order to ensure that the status of these townships as public juristic persons is not diminished as a result of the changes, we urge Ma to coordinate with the Cabinet, the legislature and the three new special municipalities, to ensure the adoption of emergency administrative and legislative measures necessary to preserve their status.

Before the townships fall under the control of the special municipalities, we urge mayors Eric Chu (朱立倫), Jason Hu (胡志強) and Chen Chu (陳菊) to suspend the removal of their status and their assets and adopt measures necessary to help save them.

We also urge all legislators, regardless of political party, to urgently amend the Local Governance Act. Given the urgency of the matter, it may be necessary to adopt emergency amendment procedures, bypass committee review and move directly to a second reading. That is the only way to prevent the problems that will arise as a result of eliminating the townships’ status as public juristic persons.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉), an Aborigine who has since submitted an amendment to the Local Governance Act, has said he informed Ma that the upgrades and merger of counties and cities into special municipalities would cause serious damage to Aboriginal townships as far back as last year, when the act was initially being amended. According to Kung, Ma said the Local Governance Act could be amended again to protect Aborigines’ rights, which was why Kung drafted an amendment to the act, stipulating that the Aboriginal townships should not be listed as regular areas of the special municipalities after the new system takes effect today. Instead, his amendment refers to the Aboriginal areas as they had been designated in earlier laws.

Aboriginal townships have already made it clear that they wish to be treated as special administrative regions, a position both Chen Chu and KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) supported in Kaohsiung. However, the authorities have yet to take any action to ensure that happens.

To save these Aboriginal townships, in addition to the amendments to the Local Governance Act already proposed by legislators, the legality of changing the -jurisdiction of the townships also needs to be clarified. Because of this, an emergency plea must be made to the Presidential Office to stop the annexation of the Aboriginal townships and the dilution, if not the destruction, of Aboriginal rights.

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