Amis Aborigines from a coastal village in Taitung County yesterday submitted a petition to the Control Yuan in Taipei, asking it to launch a probe into the county government’s plan to build a resort along Shanyuan Bay (杉原灣) without seeking consent from local residents, which they said was a violation of the Aboriginal Basic Act (原住民族基本法).
“The Taitung County Government never consulted us before working with big corporations to build the Miramar Resort on the edge of our village Fudafudak through a build-operate-transfer [BOT] agreement,” said Sinsing, a Fudafudak resident, during a brief press conference the Amis held outside the Control Yuan before going inside to submit their petition. “[Taitung] County Commissioner Justin Huang (黃健庭) insists that what they’re doing is legal, but it’s apparently in violation of the Aboriginal Basic Act.”
Mayaw Biho, a documentarian and an independent legislative candidate of the Amis tribe, also called on the government to abide by the law.
“The Republic of China government also claims that it acts according to law and we hereby call on it to also follow the Aboriginal Basic Act, which was passed by the legislature and signed into effect by the president,” Mayaw said.
According to the law, any development projects in traditional Aboriginal domains should obtain consent from local Aborigines.
However, a possible gray area in the matter is that the boundaries of traditional Aboriginal domains have yet to be legally defined.
Fudafudak, administratively part of Fushan Village (富山), in Taitung County’s Beinan Township (卑南), is a predominantly Amis fishing village. Fudafudak’s Chinese name is Cihtong (刺桐).
Before the construction of the Miramar Resort in 2008, built by the Miramar Group with permission from the county government, the coastal area of the village was a beach open to the public and a fishery for residents.
Despite strong opposition by locals and Aboriginal rights and environmental activists across the country, the construction continued and is near completion.
Panai Taligu, the 76-year-old chieftain of Fudafudak, also voiced his discontent.
“I’m 76 years old. I grew up here. I know for a fact that this has been our traditional domain for generations,” Panai said in the Amis language. “We’ve petitioned to the president, to the Legislative Yuan and to the county government. They know well about what we have to say, but they ignore us.”
“They took our land and then they gave it to a big corporation,” Panai added.
After turning in their petition to the Control Yuan, the Fudafudak residents went to Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office to join other Aboriginal rights advocates — Aborigines and non-Aborigines alike — to protest the fact that Aborigines were not permitted to ask questions to the presidential and vice presidential candidates in their televised debates.
“We always say that Taiwan is a country with diversity, but why were the voices of Aborigines absent from the televised debates of presidential and vice presidential candidates?” asked Paicu Yatauyungana, a Tsou singer--actress who is better known by her Chinese name, Kao Hui-chun (高慧君). “In the 2004 presidential campaign, Aboriginal representatives were allowed to pose questions during debates; in 2008, Aboriginal issues were raised, but this time, no one has said anything about their Aboriginal policies.”