A government proposal for establishing autonomous rule for the nation’s Aboriginal peoples yesterday came under heavy criticism from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators, who said the proposal failed to ensure “true autonomy.”
Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Mayaw Dongi fended off comments from DPP legislators about the draft provisional act on autonomous rule for indigenous peoples (原住民族自治暫行條例) during a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee in Taipei.
“Your oyster omelet seems to be devoid of oysters,” DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said, adding that the draft act failed to provide adequate authority to the proposed new autonomous agencies.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said he failed to see why the proposed Aboriginal governments should remain under the jurisdiction of the Executive Yuan, instead of answering directly to the Presidential Office.
“An Aboriginal people’s [government] should not be classified as part of either the central government or a local government; it should be established as a separate government from the Republic of China’s administrative system altogether,” Tuan said.
Tuan added that the definition of the act as a “provisional act” was worrisome, as it indicated the government’s inclination to avoid more important reforms.
The draft proposal seeks to establish autonomous governments for each of the 16 officially recognized Aboriginal groups, as well as representatives for the 743 Aboriginal villages across the nation.
It stipulates that the 16 autonomous governments would exert authority over natural resources, cultural heritage and community-based industries within their respective autonomous districts — which remain to be announced.
The act also proposes setting up an overarching autonomous government for Aboriginal peoples, which would answer to the Council of Indigenous Peoples, an agency of the Executive Yuan.
It seeks to address the present lack of distinct political institutions for each of the 16 Aboriginal peoples, since currently the legislature’s six reserved Aboriginal seats are elected by the entire Aboriginal population nationwide.
In response, Mayaw said that, while the draft act was not perfect, it was better than nothing, as efforts to pass similar legislation since 2000 have repeatedly failed.
“We must launch it first. If we do not take action, it will remain impossible for the next 20 years,” he said, adding that more challenges lie ahead as establishing an autonomous government is unprecedented in the nation’s history.
Meanwhile, about a dozen young Aboriginal protesters rallied outside the Legislative Yuan, voicing their opposition to the proposed draft.
Indigenous Youth Front member Savungaz Valincinan, a member of the Bunun people, said the proposal was a unilateral act by the government, which failed to communicate with Aboriginal communities.
The group said the draft limited Aboriginal autonomous rule to a narrow range of administrative responsibilities, while failing to address the land rights of Aboriginal groups.
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