Wed, Jul 21, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Chen praises contributions of Aborigines to Taiwan

`GREATEST ESTEEM' President Chen Shui-bian said that Aborigines are the true masters of Taiwan, and pointed out that they were the nation's earliest inhabitants

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday expressed his greatest esteem for Aboriginal communities, saying that Aborigines are the real masters of Taiwan, and also the earliest inhabitants of the country.

Chen's remarks were obviously made to ease the anger of some Aboriginal people by Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) derogatory remarks about Aborigines.

"The victory of Ateng Ingay (俄鄧殷艾) -- an Aborigine who was elected as a DPP Kaohsiung City councilor during last Saturday's election -- has been a historical achievement for the DPP," Chen said when he met with Aboriginal representatives at the party's Central Headquarters.

"We have proved the fact that a completely clean campaign is realistic for Aboriginal people," Chen added.

"Ateng has been devoted to promoting the rights of Aborigines and pressuring the government to enact progressive policies and take care of the villages of all Aboriginal tribes," Chen said. "The cooperation of the DPP and Ateng successfully shows the public that the voters will put aside their political ideology to support a young man who has outstanding ideals and aspirations."

Chen stressed that the he always meets guests in the "heritage room" of the Presidential Office and the room is filled with decorations from each Aboriginal tribe.

"I can immediately recite the names of all 11 aboriginal tribes, because I sincerely respect the Aboriginal tribes. They are a most important element of Taiwan's culture and history," Chen said. "They are not only the earliest inhabitants, but also the real masters of our motherland."

Chen's remarks have been regarded as a direct snub to to Lu, after the recent disputes over the vice president and her comments about some Aboriginal tribes. Lu, when talking about post-typhoon relief efforts in mountainous areas in Central Taiwan suggested the area's residents -- including the Aboriginal tribes -- should be sent to South America to let the government implement ecological reform programs.

Lu also made a controversial remark saying that Aborigines were not the original inhabitants of Taiwan.

More and more people have joined a movement to protest Lu's comments. However, Lu insists that she did nothing wrong, and says her respect for and efforts to promote Aboriginal rights remain unchanged.

Chen also met with an Aboriginal athlete, Kevin Lin (林義傑), at the Presidential Office yesterday to commend Lin for winning the 2004 Atacama Crossing, which is a seven-day ultramarathon, n which runners cross the Atacama desert in Chile.

Throughout the race, Lin displayed the national flag prominently on his pack.

"Lin, a rather small person who weighs a mere 49kg, conquered the tremendously forbidding desert and won the championship. It is a victory for Taiwan's Aboriginal spirit," Chen said. "Lin is a true son of Taiwan, and is practicing the ideal of creating unlimited opportunities from difficult and dangerous circumstances."

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