Aboriginal legislators across party lines panned the government yesterday over its apparent U-turn on a Ministry of the Interior (MOI) promise that only Aborigines would be allowed to serve as heads of national parks in Aboriginal regions, effectively stalling a review of proposed amendments to the National Park Act (國家公園法).
Construction and Planning Agency Director Yeh Shih-wen (葉世文) angered Aboriginal lawmakers when he told the Internal Administration Committee that a proposed amendment to the National Park Act by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩) of the Puyuma tribe might violate the equal rights clauses in the Constitution.
“The ministry promised to assign only Aborigines to head national parks in Aboriginal regions, but now all of a sudden you’re telling me it’s unconstitutional,” said Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator May Chin (高金素梅), who is half Atayal
“Why was it constitutional then, but unconstitutional now? ... Is the government trying to trick us?” she asked.
The ministry promise was made years ago in an attempt to appease Atayal Aborigines opposed to the plan to create a national park covering Atayal lands in Taipei and Yilan counties.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉) of the Sediq, and Chien Tung-ming (簡東明) of the Paiwan, also questioned the shift.
“I think assigning people from local tribes to head the parks is a very good idea, because they know the area, and they know the culture,” Kung said.
Chien said that national parks apparently lacked respect for Aborigines because both the Yushan and Taroko National Park management offices only employed two or three Aborigines as staff.
KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), however, defended the government, saying that requiring a certain ethnic status for a certain position was not only unconstitutional, but violated the meritocratic civil service system.
“You need to pass the civil service exam to become a civil servant, but the exam is unfair to Aborigines, because the questions are based on Han culture ... The exam itself is discriminatory,” Chin said.
“Stipulating that only Aborigines can serve as head of national parks in Aboriginal regions is of course legal, because it’s in accordance with the Aboriginal Basic Act [原住民族基本法],” Chin said.
She left the meeting in protest.
The committee meeting was then adjourned as the number of attendees fell below the number needed for a quorum.
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