China should hear heritage: Icyang

By William Hetherington  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Oct 29, 2019 - Page 3

Aborigines engaging in exchanges in China should insist on being recognized as Aborigines, and not as “Taiwanese minorities,” Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Icyang Parod said yesterday.

“I cannot accept our Aborigines being called ‘minorities,’ which does not conform with our nation’s laws,” Icyang told a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee after he was invited to report on the state of the council.

Icyang also reviewed next year’s annual budget for the Indigenous Peoples Cultural Foundation.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chang Hung-lu (張宏陸) said he was not opposed to Aborigines meeting with members of China’s ethnic groups, but they should demand to be referred to as Taiwanese as a prerequisite for participation in such exchanges.

Being called a “Taiwanese minority” is disparaging to Taiwan’s first inhabitants, Chang said.

Having once been called “mountain compatriots” (山胞), Aborigines have endured a long process to be recognized as “Aborigines,” he said, adding that there was now a consensus on this terminology in Taiwan.

Even many of the ethnic groups in China referred to by Beijing as “minorities” are recognized by the UN as Aborigines, but the Chinese government has so far ignored UN convention on the matter, Icyang said.

DPP Legislator Hung Chun-yi (洪宗熠) criticized a statement by Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), who recently said he supported the idea of putting flag platforms on the peaks of every mountain in Taiwan that is at least 3,000m above sea level.

Hung asked whether the KMT’s presidential candidate had sought the input of Aborigines.

The idea would be destructive to the environment and has already been shot down by Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who confirmed that no development should take place on mountains considered sacred to Aborigines, Icyang said.

Citing Palau, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsu Yu-jen (許毓仁) said that while Taiwan could not compete with China in terms of generating tourism revenue for Pacific Island nations, of which Palau is one of Taiwan’s four allies in the region, it has a special connection with those nations due to a shared family of Aboriginal languages.

Icyang presented some of the report in his native Amis language, which he said was an implementation of the Aboriginal Language Development Act (原住民族語言發展法) introduced on May 26, 2017.

The act made Aboriginal languages official, and stipulated that public institutions be required to provide official documents in them.

The council also provided written copies of yesterday’s report in Amis and Paiwan — the first time council reports were provided in those languages.