Pan-blue Aboriginal lawmakers planning to revive caucus

By Loa Iok-Sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thu, May 21, 2009 - Page 4

Disappointed by the performance of the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP), pan-blue Aboriginal lawmakers said yesterday they were planning to restart the Aboriginal caucus.

The decision came despite reported opposition from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus leadership.

“It’s been a year since CIP Minister Chang Jen-hsiang [章仁香] took office, yet the council’s administrative efficiency is well below our expectations and it really needs improvement,” KMT Legislator Chien Tung-ming (簡東明) of the Paiwan tribe told reporters at the legislature.

“Since Aboriginal legislators are in the minority, we can’t accomplish much if we each work on our own,” Chien said. “That’s why we need a caucus to unite Aboriginal lawmakers across party lines for the welfare of all Aboriginals.”

Currently, there are a total of seven Aboriginal lawmakers belonging to the KMT, the Democratic Progressive Party, the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union, and the People First Party (PFP).

The Aboriginal caucus has existed since the fourth legislature but gradually ceased to operate during the sixth legislature because of internal conflicts.

As the CIP under the present KMT government has failed to live up to the expectations of Aboriginal lawmakers, we believe it’s about time to restart the caucus, Chien said.

“With such a platform, we can work together to talk about Aboriginal issues and monitor the government’s policy implementation,” said KMT Legislator Yang Jen-fu (楊仁福), an Amis and co-founder of the Aboriginal caucus.

“In the caucus, Aboriginal welfare is more important than the welfare of political parties,” he said.

Yang admitted that the KMT caucus leadership opposed the plan.

“Although we’re not seeking to establish an official caucus to go against any party caucus, they [the KMT caucus] said they don’t want to see any secondary groups,” he said.

KMT caucus whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) denied reports that he had voiced opposition to the Aboriginal legislators’ plan, calling a story in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) an “exaggeration.”

“There is no plan to reinstate the sub-group. It’s impossible for me to oppose something that doesn’t exist,” he said.

Lin said the lawmakers were simply trying to push a draft bill on establishing an autonomous region for Aboriginals.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG