A member of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Central Standing Committee recently caused a stir with his suggestion that the nation’s Aborigines should marry within their own ethnic group to preserve the purity of Aboriginal bloodlines.
The suggestion came to light when a KMT lawmaker revealed in a post on Facebook that during a committee meeting on Wednesday last week, in which Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Sun Ta-chuan (孫大川) gave a presentation, committee member Liao Wan-lung (廖萬隆) proposed the idea to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
According to the post, Ma, who presided over the meeting in his capacity as the KMT chairman, responded by saying that “love and marriage are personal liberties,” adding: “I’m sorry, but I cannot take the suggestion.”
Liao’s proposal has nonetheless caused a stir among some netizens, who slammed the idea as “totally ridiculous.”
Commenting on the issue, Sediq KMT Legislator Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉) said he was surprised anyone would still make such a suggestion, as marriage between Aborigines and non-Aborigines helped keep the different ethnicities at peace, adding that trying to stop inter-communal marriages hinted at repression, not progress.
KMT Legislator Chien Tung-ming (簡東明), a member of the Paiwan tribe, added that it was “inhuman” to interfere in the freedom of marriage.
Protection of cultures did not necessarily need to start by avoiding marriage between Aboriginal and Han peoples, said Chien, whose view was echoed by Sun.
Other Aboriginal leaders also said it was ludicrous, laughable, an infringement of human rights and inhumane.
Independent Legislator May Chin (高金素梅), who is half-Atayal and represents an Aboriginal constituency, wondered why Liao still subscribed to the outdated concept of blood and racial purity.
Liao yesterday clarified that his intent had been to preserve Aboriginal languages and cultures. Such things cannot be forced and must be encouraged by policies, he added.
The central government’s policies on the preservation of Aboriginal culture are insufficient, causing their gradual assimilation and the loss of Aboriginal languages, Liao said.
“There might not be a pure-bred Aborigines anymore if this continues,” Liao said.
Government policies must protect the vulnerable and the central government should draw up regulations that encourage young Aborigines to return to their native homes to carry on their own cultures, which are an important part of Taiwan’s culture, he added.
According to the Aboriginal Identity Act (原住民身分法) amended in January 2001, people who are half Aborigine can obtain Aborigine status.
As a result, whereas the Aboriginal population was 420,000 in 2002, as of last month a total of 514,000 individuals nationwide were classified as Aborigines.