Sun, Oct 30, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Aborigines forced to use Chinese names, legislator says

OBSTRUCTIVE:When registering their names at household registration offices, Aborigines said they often have to face uncooperative officials

By Cheng Hung-daand Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The practice of Aborigines using Chinese-language surnames is a result of discriminatory government policies, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kolas Yotaka said.

Chen (陳) and Lin (林) are the most common surnames for Aborigines, with 10.43 percent, or 57,340 people, surnamed Lin and 9.75 percent, or 53,583 people, surnamed Chen, a Ministry of the Interior report said.

Chen and Lin are the most common Aboriginal surnames nationwide, except in Nantou County and Chiayi County, where Lin is primarily used in areas north of Taitung, as well as Hualien, Taitung, Kinmen and Matsu, it added.

Kolas, during a legislative session on Wednesday, said that the “Regulations on Restoration of Original Names of Citizens of Taiwan,” promulgated by the government in 1945, forced Aborigines to adopt Han Chinese names, which disrupted their culture and society.

In the past, Household Registration Service Offices staff frequently named Aborigines on a whim, and occasionally gave different surnames to people living in the same household, she said.

Kolas called on the government to improve training for civil servants to address systemic racism, saying although the Name Act (姓名條例) was amended to facilitate the registration of Aboriginal names, Aborigines say that they are often confronted with uncooperative or unfriendly civil servants at household registration offices.

In related news, the ministry’s biennial report on the nation’s surnames indicated that Chen and Lin remain the most common surnames nationally, with 2,619,560 people, or 11.14 percent of people, surnamed Chen and 1,953,760 people, or 8.31 percent of people, surnamed Lin.

Huang (黃) is the third-most common surname with 1,421,439 people, or 6.05 percent of people registered, the report said.

Chen and Lin are a combined 19.45 percent of the population, while the fourth to 10th-most common surnames are Chang (張), Lee (李), Wang (王), Wu (吳), Liu (劉), Tsai (蔡) and Yang (楊); 12,406,443 people are registered under one of the 10 most prevalent surnames, or 52.77 percent of the population, the report said.

When weighed by the “aging index” — a value defined as the ratio of individuals over 65 years of age to individuals under 14 years of age — individuals surnamed Liu have an aging index of 99.73 percent, while the overall population has an index of 95.36 percent, making Liu the oldest surname, the report said.

Although Taiwanese laws have allowed parents to name or rename their children with the surname of either parent for the past 10 years, only 2.24 percent of the population, or 520,6596 people, are given their maternal name, the report said.

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