Fri, Jun 02, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers spar over reinstating Aboriginal land

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Legislators on Wednesday sparred over whether the government should reinstate traditional Aboriginal territories it inherited from the then-Taiwan Governor-General’s Office after the Japanese colonial era.

The issue is to be discussed further at an extraordinary legislative session this month, Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) said.

At a cross-caucus negotiation on a proposed transitional justice bill, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) proposed a clause-by-clause review of the DPP’s version, a motion that was opposed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus convener Sufin Siluko (廖國棟).

While acknowledging that the then-KMT government “unfairly and unjustly” took over Aboriginal territories formerly occupied by the Japanese government, Sufin, an Amis, said there is a large disparity between the scope and time periods the DPP’s and the KMT’s proposals include when seeking transitional justice.

The KMT’s version targets “ill-gotten” state assets — including Aboriginal land — that the then-KMT regime seized from the office and seeks to compensate Aborigines whose land was occupied by the Japanese government, Sufin said.

The DPP’s version focuses on uncovering injustices by the KMT during the authoritarian era and compensating families of victims of the 228 Incident and White Terror era, he said.

The KMT obtained the assets through the Republic of China Political Tutelage Period Act, which was the law at the time, Sufin said.

The DPP’s bill would be biased in its attack of the KMT if it does not extend the time period to the Japanese colonial era, he said.

Tensions escalated as Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) said Ker had excluded Aborigines during discussions of the DPP’s version of the bill and criticized the DPP for ignoring the Japanese government’s “forceful” occupation of Aboriginal lands.

Ker rejected the allegation, saying: “Transitional justice is all-inclusive,” as the two engaged in a heated exchange.

KMT Legislator Sra Kacaw, an Amis, said the Taiwan Provincial Government in 1947 issued a statement declaring that the land and forests it took over from the office “would not be returned after they are surveyed,” indicating that the provincial government was the source of the injustice.

A separate bill to reinstate Aboriginal territories should be proposed, New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said.

It is impossible to formulate an act with enough finesse to cover the issues of Aboriginal land reclamation and injustices perpetrated by the then-KMT regime, Huang said.

Su said that each caucus is to appoint a lawmaker as its representative at negotiations during the extraordinary session.

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