Tue, Dec 06, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Aborigines slam draft autonomy act, mull lawsuits

ANGER:Aborigines questioned how they could have meaningful autonomy under an act that did not grant them their own land and kept them under local districts

By Rich Chang  /  Staff Reporter

Indigenous Peoples Action Coalition of Taiwan secretary-general Omi Wilang, left, and other Aboriginal activists yesterday hold a press conference in Taipei to protest the government’s draft bill of an Aboriginal peoples’ autonomy act.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Aboriginal groups and law experts yesterday slammed the Cabinet’s draft autonomy act, saying lawsuits would be filed domestically and internationally if the legislature approved it in the current legislative session.

The Indigenous Peoples Action Coalition of Taiwan yesterday released a statement saying the Cabinet’s proposal was disrespectful, unconstitutional and violated the Aboriginal Basic Act (原住民基本法).

The statement said the Aboriginal autonomous act proposed by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration was a backward bill that violated the Constitution and the current global trend of respecting Aborigines’ rights.

Representatives from the coalition called on legislators to boycott the bill and also urged Aborigines not to vote for Ma and the -Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the election Jan. 14 presidential and legislative elections.

Describing the bill as an “empty shell,” National Dong Hwa University College of Indigenous Studies director Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒) said the bill did not grant Aborigines their own land.

This being so, Shih asked how Aborigines could establish their autonomous regions.

He said the bill stipulated that Aborigines could establish offices and councils in their respective tribes, but it did not abolish current administrative districts. This means that any executive decisions made by tribal regions would have to negotiate with township and county governments, which means they would be likely to go nowhere.

Amis representative Konon Panay (古孟巴奈) said the central government did not define and grant Aboriginal lands, but it has been depriving Aborigines of their lands in the name of development.

The Eastern Development Act (東部發展條例) was approved in June by the legislature and aims to develop land in Hualien and Taitung counties, allowing big developers to destroy land traditionally owned by Aborigines and threatening to ruin the lives of Amis Aborigines, Panay said.

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