Thu, Jun 15, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Officials express concern over Truku self-rule draft

AUTONOMY Government representatives asked that the draft more clearly state the Aboriginal government's role and its relationship to the central and local governments

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Representatives from the Truku (太魯閣) Aboriginal group and government agencies yesterday assessed a draft of the Taroko self-government law -- the country's first Aboriginal self-rule plan -- but most officials expressed concerns that it would conflict with the Constitution.

The government originally labeled the Truku as being part of the Atayal people and only officially recognized them as the nation's 12th Aboriginal group in 2004.

Teyra Yudaw, chairman of the Truku Self-Government Promotion Commission, said that although 12 groups had been legally recognized, the nation's Aborigines were still not being treated equally.

Therefore, there was a need for self-government and sovereignty, Yudaw said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉) yesterday held a public hearing at the Legislative Yuan attended by more than 20 government representatives and Truku to exchange views on the draft law.

The draft was written following the structure of the Republic of China's Constitution, incorporating issues such as elections, education and taxation methods.

However, most government officials were concerned that much of the draft's content would conflict with articles in the Constitution and with the Law on Local Government Systems (地方制度法).

Chang Kuo-fang (張國芳), a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, said the draft's "ethnic diplomacy" concept would conflict with the president's role in conducting diplomacy.

Ethnic diplomacy, Yudaw said, would allow Aborigines to participate in UN conferences under their own government and avoid pressure from China when participating as "Taiwan."

This would help Taiwan establish better relations with international organizations, he said.

Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), a political science professor at Tamkang University who acted as a consultant in the drafting of the law, said that ethnic diplomacy was definitely feasible and that it would not overlap with the president's diplomatic tasks.

Issues involving minority peoples can no longer be neglected internationally, Shih said.

He added that even China knew it had to face these problems and that therefore an Aboriginal government would be able to participate more freely in international activities.

Chang Bing (張彬), an official from the Forestry Bureau, said he was worried that once all 12 Aboriginal groups had formed their own governments, it would complicate the land and forest preservation work the bureau was currently responsible for, since it would no longer have jurisdiction over forests or natural resources falling under those governments.

In addition, every governmental meeting would have to include 12 different Aboriginal representatives, he added.

Taxation methods were also discussed, with questions raised as to whether the Truku people would pay taxes only to their own government and not the central government.

Other government officials also said that many regulations in the draft law overlapped the Aboriginal Basic Law (原住民族基本法), and asked for the draft to state more explicitly the responsibilities of the Aboriginal government and its relationship to local governments, and what would happen if case of a conflict between it and the central government.

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