President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday issued a formal apology on behalf of the government to Aborigines for the discrimination and neglect they suffered over the past 400 years.
The apology was made after a ceremony in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei, where representatives of Taiwan’s 16 recognized Aboriginal communities gathered on Indigenous People’s Day.
Following a Paiwan tradition, the representatives announced their arrival by singing songs and burning stalks of foxtail millet.
Photo: EPA/Office of the president
Tsai then greeted them at the entrance of the Presidential Office Building and invited them in, where a Bunun blessing ceremony was held and prayers were offered by six Christian priests of Aboriginal heritage.
In her apology on behalf of the government, Tsai said it was a further step toward protecting the social status of Aborigines and promoting their development in education, culture, social welfare and economic development, as laid out in an article of the Constitution that was added on Aug. 1, 1994.
The article also abolished the widely used term shanbao (山胞, “mountain fellow”) to refer to Aborigines, after they campaigned against it for decades because of racist connotations, Tsai said.
“For the unfair treatment and pain suffered by all of you in the past 400 years, I apologize on behalf of the government,” Tsai said. “I believe that even now, there are still some people who think there is no need for such an apology, but that is the main reason why I need to make this apology on behalf of the government today.”
Tsai also announced the establishment of a Presidential Office “commission for historical and transitional justice,” which she is to head.
The commission is to hold discussions with representatives of Aboriginal communities on issues such as national policies toward Aborigines so that their voices can be heard, she said.
Tsai added that the Cabinet would seek to introduce a basic law for Aborigines, revive the historic memories of Aboriginal communities and pay attention to their education, health and economic development.
She said a legal service center would be created to deal with the increasing number of conflicts between existing laws and traditional Aboriginal practices, such as the hunting of non-protected animals.
Tsai also said that before the publication of a final report, she would re-examine a government decision to store nuclear waste on Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) and would offer compensation to members of the Tao community who live there.
She called for efforts to ensure better public understanding of the history and culture of Taiwan’s various ethnic groups to help achieve reconciliation and prosperity for all, and promote justice, diversity and equality.
The apology to Aborigines was one of Tsai’s campaign promises, which she said would signal respect for the early inhabitants of the nation and a move toward solving related issues.
An 80-year-old Tao elder from Orchid Island responded on behalf of the Aboriginal representatives, saying that he hoped the government’s apology on Indigenous People’s Day would mark the beginning of peace and reconciliation.
On behalf of the 16 Aboriginal communities, he accepted a printed copy of Tsai’s apology and offered her foxtail millet in a traditional gesture.
MORE ARRIVALS ALLOWED: Taiwan yesterday increased its cap on arrivals to 60,000 from 50,000 ahead of a full border opening with a weekly cap of 150,000 on Oct. 13 Travelers arriving in Taiwan from Oct. 13 would no longer be required to quarantine on arrival and visitors of all nationalities would be allowed to enter, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced yesterday. However, the number of arrivals would be capped at 150,000 per week, he added. Travelers aged two or older would be given four rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits on arrival and be asked to monitor their health for seven days, Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a news conference. Under the new arrival protocol, travelers would have to take a test on the day of arrival or the day after, followed
SOVEREIGN NATION: The Chinese premier’s remarks about the CCP’s resolve to achieve unification sought to undermine the legitimacy of Taiwan, the MAC said Taiwan will never accept Beijing’s attempts to undermine its sovereignty, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday, after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at its National Day celebrations in Beijing vowed to achieve unification with Taiwan. The CCP’s statement was not conducive to peaceful cross-strait relations, the council said. The event, hosted by the Chinese State Council, featured Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強), the other five CCP Politburo Standing Committee members and Vice President Wang Qishan (王岐山), as well as 500 guests from China and abroad. Taiwanese based in China also attended the ceremony, Xinhua news agency
Washington is evaluating a transfer of weapons systems requested by Taiwan, according to a copy of a report by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) that is to be submitted to lawmakers tomorrow. Asked whether the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile would be among the weapons systems, the ministry refused to comment, but said that it would not rule out announcing the specifics later this year. The ministry’s domestically sourced high-priority military investments include submarines, next-generation light frigates, rescue ships, advanced trainer jets and infantry fighting vehicles, the report said. Planned deals include F-16A and F-16B jet performance upgrades, navigation and targeting
DEFENSE-READY: The armament of the ‘Yushan’ allows for amphibious combat operations, the head of a firm involved in the ship’s construction said The navy yesterday took delivery of the first locally developed and built naval ship of more than 10,000 tonnes in a ceremony in Kaohsiung presided over by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). The ROCS Yushan, an amphibious transport dock, was the result of a government-initiated indigenous shipbuilding project seeking to establish autonomy over national defense, Tsai said. She thanked CSBC Corp, Taiwan (台船), the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology and the navy for their contributions. The military needs the best equipment to uphold peace and defend Taiwan as it faces military threats from China, Tsai said. The 153m long and 23m wide Yushan