Fri, Dec 16, 2011 - Page 3 News List

2012 ELECTIONS: Aborigines demand that their voice is heard at next presidential debate

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter

Members of an Aboriginal group hold a press conference in Taipei yesterday to express their dissatisfaction with the lack of questions posed by representatives of Aboriginal people during the televised presidential debates.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Upset that Aboriginal rights advocacy groups and Aboriginal issues have been ignored during the presidential and vice presidential candidate debates, Aboriginal groups yesterday urged the organizers of tomorrow’s presidential debate to allow them to raise questions during the proceedings.

Aboriginal rights advocates as well as Aboriginal celebrities — including Amis singer Panai Kusul and Tsou singer-actress Paicu Yatauyungana — who is better known by her Chinese name Kao Hui-chun (高慧君) — made the request during a news conference in Taipei.

“During both the presidential and vice presidential debates, none of the candidates mentioned one word about Aboriginal -policies,” Indigenous Peoples’ Action Coalition of Taiwan convener Omi Wilang said. “This shows that the special status and rights are still overlooked even during the presidential election.”

He said there are many important issues related to Aborigines, including the handling of nuclear waste in Lanyu (蘭嶼), where the Tao people live, a Taiwan Power Co plan to build a nuclear waste dump in Daren Township (達仁), Taitung County, a Paiwan traditional domain, and many development projects on Aboriginal lands along Taiwan’s east coast.

“No one talked about such serious issues; the only thing Aboriginal they do is to greet voters in Aboriginal languages,” Omi said.

Yatauyungana said the situation was worse than 2004 and 2008, -because during presidential candidates’ debates at the last two elections, “at least Aboriginal representatives were invited to ask questions.”

“We want the three candidates to tell us what they think about the issue of partnership [between Aborigines and the government], Aboriginal dignity, reconciliation, land, autonomy and sustainable development,” she said.

“The world is unfair, because I am an Aborigine,” Amis singer Panai said in tears. “Taiwan owes much to Aborigines, they even ignore us in debates.”

The Aboriginal rights advocates called on the presidential candidates, as well as Public Television Systems and the six media outlets that co-host the debate to respond to their demands.

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