Tue, Jul 13, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Aboriginals scapegoated, Chin says

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government is scapegoating the nation's indigenous people for the damage resulting from Tropical Storm Mindulle, while the real villains are politicians who encouraged overdevelopment of mountainous areas, independent Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) said yesterday.

"Since the [tropical storm] hit, there have been insinuations that overdevelopment in Aboriginal communities has compounded the severity of the ensuing crisis," Chin said. "It is true that the landslide disaster zone is on indigenous land, but we need to ask who was doing the developing."

Speaking at a press conference at the Legislative yesterday, Chin said that non-stop efforts by non-indigenous farmers and businessmen to usurp Aboriginal land rights had resulted in the overdevelopment of land already structurally weakened by the 921 earthquake five years ago.

She produced documents which showed that the Taiwan Original Land Development Rights Alliance (台灣原開墾農權聯盟) had appealed to the Executive Yuan to consider requests such as opening Aboriginal reservations to the real estate market.

This group, Chin said, is made up of non-indigenous businessmen whose financial clout has persuaded politicians such as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌琅) to support environmentally damaging projects.

Chin also took the opportunity to take a swipe at Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) for her recent remarks, saying that Lu's words and brain did not always work on the same level.

During a visit to Taoyuan County on Sunday, Lu said that the nation's indigenous people were not the true "native people" of Taiwan, because there was no one in the country who had not "migrated" here at some time in history. The comments drew angry criticism from Aboriginal representatives.

Politicians identified by Chin yesterday then spoke out against her, claiming that she was only attempting to fortify her support base before December's legislative elections.

"Chin is doing this only for her election chances. Her method of causing conflict between Aboriginal and Hoklo ethnic groups is a cruel way to project an image that she is supportive of Aboriginal rights," Tsai said. On his participation in commercial ventures, Tsai said that the Nantou County road identified by Chin as an alliance-backed project had helped local tourism and that he was proud of his participation in its construction.

Nantou County Commissioner Lin Tsung-nan (林宗男), who was also accused by Chin of supporting overdevelopment, said yesterday that Chin should show evidence of her accusations. He said he would not rule out legal action if Chin continued to "speak untruths."

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