2012 ELECTIONS: Tsai promises to work with Hakka and Aborigines

PRIDE OF TAIWAN::The DPP presidential candidate said that she would seek to turn Hakka areas into cultural tourist spots to benefit the local economy

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 - Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that if she were elected next month, her administration would work with Hakka and Aborigine communities to regain the glory of minority groups in Taiwan.

The rich Hakka and Aborigine cultures would no longer be ignored because in the age of “glocalization,” they enrich Taiwan’s characteristics and become Taiwanese assets, both of which would boost the local economy and restore “ethnic” pride, she told supporters at separate settings on her campaign trail.

Speaking at a Hakka forum at the National Taiwan University Hospital convention center in Taipei in the morning, Tsai, who is of Hakka ancestry, pledged to integrate -public and private resources to turn Hakka-populated areas along the No. 3 highway into a “Hakka Romantic Road,” thus boosting the local economy through cultural tourism.

The project borrows the idea from the “Romantics Road” in southern Germany, a 350km themed travel route between Wurzberg and Fussen that boasts rich culture and breathtaking scenery, she said.

The project would link Hakka communities along the nation’s west coast, from Greater Taichung’s Shihgang Township (石岡) to Hsinchu’s Guansi Township (關西), she said.

Tsai said she would also improve the area’s infrastructure and set up a NT$100 billion (US$3.3 billion) rural development fund to encourage young people to develop their careers in rural areas.

Her administration would continue to promote Hakka culture like the previous DPP administration through the inclusion of the Hakka language as part of national languages education and the establishment of more Hakka-language media outlets.

In the Hakka-populated -counties of Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli, technological and agricultural development go hand in hand, she said, with the expansion of the Hsinchu Science Park to southern Taoyuan and a “new agriculture movement” to encourage young people to return to their hometowns to work in the sector.

Infrastructure, the highway network in particular, should be improved in mountainous areas as well, she said.

Meanwhile, the DPP chairperson met about 2,000 Aborigine supporters in the afternoon at a rally at her national campaign headquarters in Banciao District (板橋), New Taipei City (新北市), saying that Aboriginal culture is something of which Taiwan should be proud.

“My administration would like to work with you all to make Aboriginal culture part of Taiwanese culture. We take great pride in [Aboriginal culture] and everyone can embrace the future with confidence,” Tsai said.

Tsai pledged to support eventual Aboriginal autonomy with fiscal and administrative power and promotion and protection of the Aborigines’ participation in politics.

Additional reporting by CNA