Fri, Mar 17, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Aboriginal group decries `bias' in TV commercials

CONDESCENDING Aboriginal representatives blasted the contentious TV promotional spots, saying they only aggravate cultural biases and promote segregation

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Aboriginal civic group representatives yesterday decried the promotional commercials produced by the Council of Indigenous Peoples, saying the TV spots de-picted Aborigines in a biased way.

The airing of these commercials on the Indigenous TV station should be immediately stopped, they said.

Amis tribe representatives Wsay Kolas and Mayaw Biho of the Croh Culture Workshop, an organization which promotes tribal culture, said nine promotional commercials were made by the council to educate the Taiwanese public on nine of the 12 Aboriginal tribes.

However, the commentaries in these commercials reflected the bias of the Han people, Biho said.

Biho said that the Aborigines in the commercials were referred to as "they" and "them." The commentaries also included sentences such as "We call them the Saisiat Tribe."

Biho questioned who the "we" meant in the sentences, adding that this was an attempt to segregate indigenous tribes from other Taiwanese people.

"These commercials only aggravate the biases people have towards indigenous peoples in the first place," he said.

He said he was tired of Aborigines being portrayed as always singing and never speaking. The narration in the commercials even referred to Aborigines as "dark-skinned, shiny-eyed people."

The narration should be done by indigenous people who can talk about their own tribes, instead of allowing themselves to be "introduced," he added.

Other inappropriate comments included calling the Idasau people "a tribe that is about to disappear with only 300 people left," and saying the Saisiat people have "weird surnames derived from nature" and that they were "rarer than pandas," Kolas said.

Kolas added that the commercials always ended with a slogan, such as "Cultivate tribal educa-tion" or "Establish a better tribal environment."

However, some had slogans like "Maintain public safety," which had absolutely nothing to do with the commercial about indigenous peoples.

The commercials have been running for more than three months and more than 50 times per day, Biho said.

It is time that they stop being aired, at least on Indigenous TV, he added.

In response, council officials said they would need to re-evaluate the nine commercials before making a final decision whether to remove them from the Indigenous TV station.

There are 12 Aboriginal tribes in Taiwan -- Saisiat, Thao, Tsou, Rukai, Paiwan, Tao (Yami), Puyuma, Bunun, Amis, Atayal, Kavalan and Truku, but commercials were made for only nine tribes.

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