Sun, Jul 25, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Lu claims others should apologize for controversy

`NEW CAREERS' The vice president says she never suggested forced emigration, just that mountain folk might rethink their plans and move to other countries

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice President Annette Lu, right, greets Aboriginal musician Lee Tai-hsiang yesterday at a gathering that was held outside of Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to celebrate a week of science-related events.

PHOTO: CNA

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday condemned some opposition politicians for what she called a deliberate misinterpretation of her remarks about the government's Aboriginal policies. She said that those politicians should apologize to the public, but that she would not.

"I made none of those remarks provoking the Aboriginal communities, so why should I apologize?" Lu said, responding to reporters' questions about a protest by Aborigines against her remarks that was staged in front of the Presidential Office yesterday after-noon.

Lu insisted that the public should find out who actually made the inappropriate remarks.

"I did not say that the government must force Aborigines to emigrate to Central America, I just suggested that the government's emigration policy should reconsider how to assist residents in central Taiwan's mountain areas to develop new careers in other countries, such as Taiwan's allies in Central America," Lu said.

Lu reaffirmed her statement that no human being is the master of the earth because everyone is just a passing visitor on the planet, so "all of us must respect nature."

"Moreover, I never used the word `extinction' about Aboriginal tribes; it was an Aboriginal legislator using the word to exaggerate my remark maliciously. I think that all

"Aboriginal communities should ask this lawmaker to officially apologize," Lu said.

She blamed those who she said misinterpreted her remarks, saying that they should stop arousing ethnic strife to benefit their personal interests in the upcoming legislative elections.

Lu welcomed Aboriginal citizens to visit Ketagalan Square in front of the Presidential Office, but asked that they sing their traditional folk songs and perform dances instead of carrying guns and knives.

Though some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators defended Lu's remarks, they suggested Lu make an apology to end what they called unnecessary disputes between the Aboriginal community and the DPP government.

"We have sent a letter to all Aboriginal tribal leaders to introduce what the vice president really said and to compare these words with the media's and other politicians' incorrect versions," DPP Ethnic Affairs Department chief Yang Chang-cheng (楊長鎮) said yesterday.

Yang said that the party sincerely expected the Aboriginal communities not to be misguided by a few malicious politicians, but he also quoted some DPP leaders as saying that "there is nothing bad about making a short goodwill remark expressing regret."

Other politicians said that damage had been done.

"Those aboriginal tribes originally all disliked the DPP; it was a difficult job to communicate with them. Now that we finally won trust from some of them, Lu's remarks -- in which she said that those Aborigines were not Taiwan's first inhabitants -- just spoiled our efforts," said Mayaw Kumud (馬耀谷木).

Lee Hung-hsi (李鴻禧), President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) constitutional expert who serves as the head of the DPP's talent-training Ketagalan Academy (凱達格蘭學校), told reporters that Lu may have to rethink whether or not to make an apology.

"The main point of the Aboriginal issue is not those recent word wars between the vice president and the Aborigines," said Lee. "It is what goals the government is capable of achieving."

"Some politicians aroused Aborigines' anger to attack Lu, so we can leave the issue to Lu herself to decide whether to apologize," Lee said.

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