Tue, May 01, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Aboriginal electoral districts criticized for inequalities

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Aboriginal lawmakers yesterday called for the redrawing of Aboriginal electoral districts to better reflect regional differences and ethnic diversity.

“Aboriginal voters elect three mountains Aboriginal lawmakers and three plains Aboriginal lawmakers, who represent all Aborigines across the country,” said People First Party Legislator Lin Cheng-er (林正二) of the Amis tribe, during an Internal Administration Committee meeting yesterday morning.

Under the system, six Aboriginal legislators represent all 500,000 Aborigines nationwide.

“So, when we run for legislative seats, it’s like running for the presidency, because our electoral district covers the entire country,” Lin said.

Such a large “electoral district” makes it difficult not only for candidates to campaign, but also to serve their constituents once elected.

“Maybe the Aboriginal electoral district could be cut into half, with one northern district and one southern district, both covering about nine to 11 counties and cities,” he said.

Lin said that among the three plains Aboriginal seats, one should be reserved for a non-Amis representative, since the Amis is the most populous plains Aboriginal tribe, and usually occupy all plains Aboriginal seats in the legislature.

“With more than 180,000 people — or two-thirds of all plains Aborigines — it’s often we Amis who occupy plains Aboriginal seats,” he said. “It’s not very fair to non-Amis tribes.”

In the legislative election in January, “all 10 plains Aboriginal candidates were Amis, because politicians from other plains Aboriginal tribes knew they would not get elected and thus gave up running,” he said.

Under the current electoral system, Aboriginal voters are divided into “mountains Aborigines” and “plains Aborigines,” and each category elects three representatives.

Although the term “mountains Aborigines” refers mainly to Aboriginal tribes living in the mountains, while “plains Aborigines” refers mainly to tribes living on the plains, the description is not entirely accurate, since the definition was based more on some complicated historical reasons.

Mountains Aboriginal tribes include the Atayal, Sediq, Truku, Bunun, Tsou, Paiwan, Rukai and Saisiyat in Miaoli County’s Nanjhuang Township (南庄) — also known as “southern Saisiyat” — and Tao, who live on Lanyu (蘭嶼), or Orchid Island, in the Pacific.

Plains Aboriginal tribes include the Amis, Sakizaya, Kavalan, Thao, Puyuma and Saisiyat in Hsinchu County’s Wufeng Township (五峰), also known as “northern Saisiyat.”

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chien Tung-ming (簡東明) of the Paiwan tribe agreed on the need to redraw Aboriginal electoral districts, but said dividing Aboriginal electoral districts into three — northern, central and southern — was more appropriate.

Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) and Central Election Commission Vice Chairman Liu I-chou (劉義周) both said that they would consider the suggestions.

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