Aborigines set to elect own district chiefs, councilors

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Feb 09, 2014 - Page 1

Responding to petitions by Aboriginal rights advocacy groups, Aboriginal residents in Aboriginal districts in special municipalities will be able to vote for their own district administrators and representatives in this year’s local elections, making it the first time that special municipality residents may elect their own district administrators and representatives.

“In addition to elections for mayors or county commissioners, city or county councilors, and village or borough wardens, set for Nov. 29, this year will also mark the first year when Aboriginal voters in special municipalities will be able to vote for their district administrators and district councilors in Aboriginal districts, following the passage of amendments to the Local Government Act (地方制度法) last month,” Deputy Minister of the Interior Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) said yesterday.

“Due to the law revision, we will expect the largest number of local positions — more than 11,000 of them — to be elected in local elections in history,” Hsiao said.

Since 2010, several Aboriginal townships have become municipal districts as cities and counties have been administratively upgraded to special municipalities, taking away Aboriginal residents’ rights to elect their own political leaders and representatives as granted by the Constitution and the Aboriginal Basic Act (原住民族基本法), because, according to the original Local Government Act, there would not be representative councils in districts in special municipalities, while district administrators would be appointed by the mayor.

Following years of petitions and protests, the legislature and the government have finally agreed to amend the law to allow the election of district administrators in Aboriginal districts in special municipalities, and create district councils.

Original Aboriginal townships that have become municipal districts in 2010 include Wulai District (烏來) in New Taipei City (新北市), Heping District (和平) in Greater Taichung and Namasiya (那瑪夏), Maolin (茂林) and Taoyuan (桃源) in Greater Kaohsiung.

As Taoyuan County is set to become a new special municipality later this year, the Atayal Aboriginal township of Fusing (復興) will also become a municipal district.

Hsiao reminded voters that, according to the Political Donations Act (政治獻金法), candidates for district administrators and councilors may start taking political donations from individuals, firms or organizations on April 25 and Aug. 25 respectively, and should stop taking donations on Nov. 28.