Legislators and academics deliberated on the need for a draft bill on transitional justice for Aborigines at a legislative meeting yesterday, with several speakers calling on the government to allocate funds to save Aboriginal languages, return traditional territories taken by past government administrations and grant official status to Pingpu Aborigines.
The hearing was held to address Aboriginal issues after draft legislation on transitional justice last month cleared review at the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, which some lawmakers said mainly focused on human rights abuses and atrocities perpetrated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government during the Martial Law era, and did not go far enough on historical injustices suffered by Aboriginal communities.
In yesterday’s first of two hearing sessions, most participants agreed on the need to set up a special committee to promote the restoration of rights for Aborigines, which would be placed under the authority of the Presidential Office and have the power to make recommendation reports.
However, they could not agree on which of the five versions of the bill on transitional justice for Aborigines submitted by various political parties and groups of lawmakers to support.
Tai Pao-tsun (戴寶村), a professor of Taiwanese history at National Chengchi University, said that Taiwan is a multicultural society, with different Aboriginal groups inhabiting the land since the earliest times.
He urged the government to look at the plight of lowland Pingpu Aborigines, who are still excluded and denied official Aboriginal status.
He said the draft legislation must be inclusive to protect and promote the cultures and languages of the various Aboriginal groups, and should also consider restoring the original names of villages and landmarks across the nation, since most of them were changed during the Japanese colonial rule and were changed again by KMT regime after 1945.
Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), a professor at National Dong Hwa University’s Department of Ethnic Relations and Cultures, called for the creation of a presidential special committee to conduct independent investigations into past rights abuses and other historic injustices against Aboriginal communities over the past 400 years of foreign rule, with the power to subpoena, access government documents and present the results.
Jolan Hsieh (謝若蘭), a colleague of Shih, endorsed President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) stated policies on Aboriginal issues, including a promise to issue an official apology to Aborigines on behalf of the nation at an event on Aug. 1, recognize historic injustices against Pingpu Aboriginal groups and set up legal mechanisms to help them gain official status and save their culture and language.
Linguist Bo Hong-ming (波宏明) said it is most important to promote Aborigines’ mother tongues and urged the government to spend NT$5 billion (US$154.29 million) each year on language teaching and other education programs for Aboriginal groups across the nation.
There were differences in opinions on the issue of returning traditional territory to Aborigines and how far it should go.
Some lawmakers argued for fixing it in the late 1940s, with the beginning of KMT authoritarian rule over Taiwan after its military defeat and retreat from China.
Others said it should date back to 1895, at the start of Japanese rule in Taiwan, or even the Dutch occupation era, with its regional government in Tainan area commencing in 1624.
‘HUMILIATING’: Aletheia University students called on the school to apologize for limiting former professor Chang Liang-tse’s access to its Taiwan literature archive The Aletheia University Student Association yesterday called on the university to apologize to retired professor Chang Liang-tse (張良澤) after it prevented him from accessing the Taiwanese literature archive at its Tainan campus by changing the lock on the building. Last month, the university changed the lock on the building without warning, barring Chang’s access to the archive that he had “singlehandedly established,” Chung Yen-wei (鍾延威), the son of the late writer Chung Chao-cheng (鍾肇政), wrote on Facebook on Friday. The university in 1997 created the first department of Taiwanese literature in the nation, and Chang, now 82, was the department’s first-ever chairman,
ALLEVIATING FEARS: The CECC would only announce public places where it is difficult to identify everyone there at the same time as the couple, minister Chen said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced six places where two locally infected COVID-19 cases had visited between Thursday last week and Sunday, urging people who had been at the places at the same time to monitor their health. The couple, cases 838, a doctor, and 839, his nurse girlfriend, were reported by the center on Tuesday. The doctor had treated a patient with COVID-19 last week before he began suffering symptoms on Friday, while the nurse began suffering symptoms on Saturday. They work in the same hospital in northern Taiwan, but the nurse had not worked with COVID-19 patients, so
SECOND RULING: Israeli-American Oren Shlomo Mayer refused to sign a court transcript, complained about the court translator and said the trial had been unfair The High Court yesterday upheld New Taipei City District Court’s verdicts on four men convicted last year in connection with the 2018 murder and dismemberment of a Canadian citizen on the banks of the Sindian River (新店溪). It found American-Israeli Oren Shlomo Mayer and American Ewart Odane Bent guilty of homicide and the abandonment and destruction of a corpse, with Mayer sentenced to life in prison and Bent given a term of 12 years and six months, for the death of Sanjay Ryan Ramgahan, whose body parts were found in a riverside park under Zhongzheng Bridge in New Taipei’s Yonghe
A lawyer and a prosecutor yesterday castigated what they called a lenient ruling by the High Court on Luo Wen-shan (羅文山), whose prison sentence was reduced to two years, which he does not need to serve, after he was convicted for receiving illegal political donations from China to meddle in Taiwan’s elections. Investigators found that Luo, who retired from the army with the rank of lieutenant general, had accepted NT$8.38 million (US$294,604 at the current exchange rate) under the guise of political contributions from Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference member Xu Zhiming (許智明) and people in Hong Kong from 2008 to