Although the Executive Yuan appears likely to approve a draft of the Aboriginal autonomy act tomorrow, indigenous groups yesterday criticized the bill as a political ploy aimed at winning Aboriginal votes in the run-up to the November special municipality elections.
The draft says Aborigines could establish autonomous governments in their autonomous regions if half of the region’s Aborigines launch such an initiative with local offices in villages, towns and cities.
However, the offices must obtain the backing of a meeting of tribal representatives and the respective city or township councils to do so.
The establishment of autonomous regions would also have to be approved by the Executive Yuan.
The Association of Taiwan Indigenous Peoples’ Policies said the bill disrespected the will of Aborigines and violated the Constitution and Aboriginal Basic Act (原住民基本法).
As members of each Aborigine tribe could be scattered around the nation, it would be difficult to meet the requirement stipulated in the bill, the association said.
During former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration, the relationship between the government and Aborigines was defined as one of state-to-state, the association said.
However, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has attempted to make the governments of Aboriginal autonomous regions legal subordinates to the Republic of China.
The association urged the administration to model its laws on Canada, the US and the UK and allow each Aboriginal tribe to propose its own version and negotiate with the administration.
Icyang Parod, former vice chairman of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, said it would be difficult for village, town and city offices to obtain the consent of the representative congress because of the small number of Aboriginal representatives.
Taking the area that will become Sinbei municipality as an example, Icyan said there were only four Aboriginal representatives on the Taipei County Council, or 6 percent of the total number.
Even Amis, who account for about one-third of the Aboriginal population, would have difficulty meeting the requirement because most of them lived on the east coast around Taitung and Hualien and occupy fewer seats than non-Aborigines on the local councils, he said.
Describing the bill as an empty shell, Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), director of the College of Indigenous Studies at National Dong Hwa University in Hualien, said he wondered whether the central government expected autonomous regions to run their businesses without funds from the central government and without the right to their own land.
Shih said the bill was vague about the boundaries of autonomous regions, some of which would overlap with existing administrative areas.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩), an Aborigine, said the bill lacked money, power and land, and was nothing but a “hurriedly written essay” put together before the November elections.
“How pathetic, Aborigines are deceived every time when there is an election,” she said.