Fri, Aug 02, 2019 - Page 3 News List

President pays respects to Aboriginal rights

POLICIES TOUTED:President Tsai Ing-wen said hopefully her government’s apology three years ago would mark a third period of critical advances in Aboriginal rights

By Yang Mien-chieh and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

President Tsai Ing-wen, front row center, Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu, front row third left, Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Icyang Parod, second row fifth right, and others attend a forum at the Grand Hotel in Taipei yesterday to mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Photo: CNA

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday marked Indigenous Peoples’ Day by paying respects to those involved in convincing the government to use the term “indigenous peoples” for Aborigines and called on them to continue their hard work, and present their viewpoints and histories.

The renaming movement 25 years ago included protests against the use of the word shanbao (mountain people, 山胞) in the Constitution and other government documents.

The word was replaced with yuanzhumin (indigenous peoples, 原住民) in Mandarin, on Aug. 1, 1994, which emphasizes the sense that they are the “original owners of the land,” Tsai said at a forum at the Taipei Grand Hotel, adding that she herself is of Paiwan descent.

The renaming event was the first of three critical moments for indigenous rights, with the second the promulgation of the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民族基本法) in 2005, Tsai said.

Tsai said that three years ago she apologized on behalf of the government as legislative action and policies stalled after the act was promulgated.

Hopefully, the apology would mark a third period of critical advances in Aboriginal rights, she said.

Tsai said that her administration has had many accomplishments on issues relating to Aboriginal affairs.

The establishment of the Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee under the Presidential Office periodically discusses with Aborigines issues that would help unveil “historical truths” from the vantage of different groups, she said.

The Indigenous Language Development Act (原住民族語言發展法) in 2017 nationalized Aboriginal languages and the government has promoted them with the goal of popularizing the languages to the extent that they would be spoken on a daily basis in Aboriginal areas, she said.

An amendment last year to the Education Act for Indigenous Peoples (原住民族教育法) in tandem with the 12-year national education program allows society to learn about Aboriginal history and culture, she said.

An amendment last year to the Act for the Utilization and Transfer of Reserved Mountainous Land (山坡地保育利用條例) removed a five-year waiting period for transfers of ownership for plots of land covered by the Regulations on Development and Management of the Lands Reserved for Indigenous Peoples (原住民保留地開發管理辦法), with 264,700 hectares nationwide set aside to encourage economic development and stability of life for Aborigines, she said.

The Forestry Bureau is relaxing regulations and trialing projects that allow Aborigines to hunt or harvest natural resources that they manage, she said.

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