The Indigenous Peoples’ Action Coalition of Taiwan yesterday delivered petitions to the three presidential candidates, asking them to sign a new partnership agreement with the nation’s Aborigines and to grant them genuine autonomy.
“We regret that the three presidential candidates did not mention anything about their Aboriginal policies during their debate,” said Omi Wilang, the convener of the alliance.
He was referring to the first televised debate between the presidential candidates — President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) — which took place on Saturday.
“If, after two changes of power, presidential candidates still do not mention their Aboriginal policies, we suspect that mainstream politicians have a colonial mentality when facing the nation’s Aborigines,” he said at a press conference in Taipei.
In the petition that Omi delivered in person to each candidate’s headquarters after the press conference, the coalition asked the three presidential candidates to reaffirm the New Partnership Agreement that former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) signed with the nation’s Aborigines in 2002, which considers the nation’s Aboriginal tribes as quasi-nations in their dealings with the Republic of China government.
It also calls on the candidates to recognize the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to apologize to Aborigines on behalf of the state once elected, to implement the Aboriginal Basic Act (原住民族基本法), to adopt an Aboriginal autonomy act and to abandon their colonial-like patronizing mentality when implementing Aboriginal policies and replace it with true respect for Aborigines.
Omi said the coalition would welcome all three candidates declaring their attitude toward the petition on Wednesday when representatives from the nation’s Aboriginal tribes will present their appeals to the candidates.