Wed, Apr 17, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Aboriginal leaders want Makao Park deal put in writing

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a bid to safeguard the livelihood of Taiwan's Aborigines, Aboriginal legislators yesterday demanded that an amendment be made to the National Park Law before the proposed Makao National Park is established.

"I, along with several other Aboriginal legislators, oppose the establishment of the Makao National Park unless, first of all, the National Park Law is amended to guarantee that the lives, culture and rights of Aborigines will not be violated," said independent Aboriginal legislator Walis Pelin (瓦歷斯貝林), of the Atayal tribe.

Pelin made the remarks yesterday at a forum that was called by the Legislative Yuan's Aboriginal Governing Committee to provide a floor for Aborigines' concerns.

Executive Yuan Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元), Minister-Without-Portfolio Lin Sheng-feng (林盛豐) -- who is in charge of the Makao case -- and Chen Chien-nien (陳建年), chairman of the Council of Aboriginal Affairs, were also present at the forum to address the Aboriginal legislators' concerns.

The proposed park will cover 53,000 hectares of land and will incorporate four Aboriginal villages in the northern Taiwan counties of Taipei, Ilan, Taoyuan and Hsinchu. It will also boast Asia's only virgin cypress forest and rare ecological features dating back 2,000 years.

The DPP government promised that the new national park would be managed jointly by indigenous people and the central government. According to this plan, Aborigines would comprise half of the Makao National Park's administrative management team and two thirds of the park's policing team.

Several Aboriginal legislators, however, questioned how the idea could be implemented when the current National Park Law details no such stipulations.

"The government's word is not enough," said PFP Aboriginal Legislator Lin Chun-te (林春德) of the Atayal tribe. "In order to legally guarantee the rights of the Aborigines, we want the law to be amended to stipulate these specific details."

In addition, Pelin pointed out that the current National Park Law prohibits hunting and the harvesting of trees and plants within the national park's borders.

"If so, the area's Aborigines will not be able to carry on with their traditional hunting activities or their habits of harvesting plants for tribal medication and food," Pelin said.

"The livelihood of the area's Aborigines will definitely be disturbed and their culture will be smothered if the Makao National Park is established without first amending the National Parks Law -- to preserve and safeguard the lifestyle of the Aborigines."

Lin Shen-fang addressed the legislators' concerns by stressing that the preservation of the Aboriginal culture would be the core element of the Makao National Park.

"In this park we will place the preservation of the Aboriginal lifestyle above the ecological aspect," Lin said. "We will definitely make sure that satisfactory measures are taken to address the concerns of the Aboriginal legislators before the Makao National Park is established."

Lee also said reports that the park's opening has already been scheduled, are incorrect.

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