Aboriginal groups yesterday accused President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of failing to respond to a request to acknowledge a “New Partnership Accord” signed by former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Aborigines.
“We, the nation’s Aborigines, have invited all three presidential candidates to commit to acknowledging the New Partnership Accord. We’re not trying to help anyone; instead, we hope that all three can agree to acknowledge it,” Association for Taiwan Indigenous Peoples’ Policies chairman Oto Micyang told a press conference in Taipei.
“Unfortunately, only People First Party [PFP] Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) has agreed to sign it, while Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), though she didn’t sign it, issued a statement supporting our demands,” Oto said.
Oto said the request for presidential candidates to acknowledge the accord was a common desire among Aborigines.
“We’ve held meetings in Aboriginal villages across the country to explain the contents of the accord and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Oto said.
The candidates’ attitudes could have an impact on who Aborigines vote for, Oto said.
Before he was elected president, Chen in 1999 signed the New Partnership Accord with the nation’s Aborigines, promising them they would be granted autonomy and that the Republic of China government would consider Aborigines partners in a state-to-state relationship.
Chen signed the accord again as the president in 2002.
Indigenous Peoples Action Coalition of Taiwan convener Omi Wilang said he regretted that Ma had chosen to ignore the wishes of Aborigines.
“We’ve delivered our petitions to all three candidates’ headquarters and we’ve contacted them through different channels. Unfortunately, Ma did not show any interest to even reply to our request,” Omi said. “It’s quite clear who we should not vote for in next month’s presidential election. Out of the three candidates, we obviously only have two to choose from.”
Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄), a former PFP legislator who attended the press conference on behalf of Soong and brought the presidential candidate’s signature, said politicians should stop attending just song-and-dance events held by Aborigines.
“Aborigines are facing much more serious problems and candidates should show real care for them,” Liu said.
The DPP’s Department of Aboriginal Affairs Deputy Director Iban Nokan presented Tsai’s statement to the organizers.
He later told reporters that -although Tsai supported the idea and that more than 90 percent of her policy agenda was similar to the ideas listed in the New Partnership Accord, Tsai was “very cautious about signing documents” and would rather not sign anything during the presidential campaign.
Taiwan Aboriginal Society president Tibusungu’e Vayayana said the presidential candidates should remember that Aborigines are the real masters of Taiwan.
“Aborigines have been in Taiwan for thousands of years, while Han immigrants from China have only been here for about 400 years,” Vayayana said.
“The state needs to only assist — not replace — Aborigines’ right to self-determination,” he said.