Thao demand consultation on Sun Moon Lake resort

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Oct 17, 2013 - Page 4

Thao Aborigines yesterday petitioned the Control Yuan to intervene in a government-approved development project in the tribe’s traditional domain, which they say is a violation of the Aboriginal Basic Act (原住民族基本法).

Holding up banners that accused the government of favoring large corporations and neglecting Aboriginal rights, dozens of Thao Aborigines and rights activists yesterday staged a protest over a plan to build a vacation resort near Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) in Nantou County without having consulted the tribal assembly.

With a population of less than 1,000, the Thao are worried that their culture — or even their tribe — may soon disappear and are therefore strongly opposed to turning a plot of land in their traditional domain into a holiday resort in a cross-strait joint venture.

“We Aborigines have been in Taiwan for thousands of years, but now the government of President Ma Ying-jeou [馬英九] is working with the Chinese Communist Party to destroy the culture and survival of an Aboriginal tribe,” Thao National Assembly president Banu Bagamumu said outside the Control Yuan building. “We are here to ask the Control Yuan to intervene to stop the shameless Executive Yuan from selling out the interests of Aborigines.”

A clause in the act stipulates that all development projects in Aboriginal traditional domains must have consent the of the local tribe, but the Sun Moon Lake area has not been officially declared a Thao traditional domain.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) also spoke in support of the Thao protest.

“One of the purposes of developing tourism is to improve the lives of locals, yet this project is aimed at developing tourism at the expense of locals,” she said. “It’s what I would call ‘vampire’ development.”

Association of Taiwan Indigenous Peoples’ Policies board member Pasang Hsiao (蕭世暉) panned the Executive Yuan for skirting the issue of traditional Aboriginal domains.

“The government always says it acts according to the law. However, it is exempting itself from the law in this case — how can an administrative decision overrule a law?” he asked. “The Executive Yuan’s excuse is essentially that people should suffer because of delays in government action.”