News / Asia

Taiwan MPs Give Aborigines Greater Autonomy

FILE - Members from the Taiwan Pingpu tribe protest during International Day of the World's Indigenous People near the presidential office in Taipei.
FILE - Members from the Taiwan Pingpu tribe protest during International Day of the World's Indigenous People near the presidential office in Taipei.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ralph Jennings
— Indigenous peoples’ push for legal autonomy in Taiwan reached a milestone this month when parliament changed a local governance law to give Austronesian aboriginal populations more power. The amended law removes a barricade to deeper tribal self-rule, a longstanding hope among aborigines, and may grab the attention of indigenous people elsewhere.
 
Taiwan’s parliament amended a law to extend self-governing rights to majority indigenous towns throughout the island. Under the law, townspeople will elect their own local representatives, rather than falling under non-aboriginal mayors of larger surrounding cities. Local leaders can also rename local government departments and decide how to spend money rather than following the budgets of higher officials. That could mean, for example, the council could decide to pave a road to an otherwise isolated group of mountain homes instead of resurfacing the town’s main highway.
 
Five indigenous towns lost those rights in 2010 when they were put directly under the mayor’s offices of Taiwan’s biggest cities. Kolas Yotaka, a producer with Taiwan Indigenous Television, called restoring these measures of self-rule a necessary step toward broader autonomy.
 
Yotaka said that when the law was being amended, several aborigine legislators thought the revision marked the return of a basic right. She said lawmakers also want to pass an indigenous autonomy bill as soon as possible. Only if that bill reaches final approval, she said, will indigenous people really be able to govern themselves.
 
Aborigines make up two percent of Taiwan’s 23 million people, and were on the island thousands of years before the majority Han Chinese arrived. When Chiang Kai-shek moved his Nationalist forces from China to Taiwan in the 1940s, his government forced the assimilation of indigenous people, diluting languages and cultural practices. However, four decades later, the government began offering tuition breaks to aboriginal youth, sponsoring events to restore cultural practices and preserving seldom heard native languages.
 
That support brought favorable attention to Taiwan from indigenous people elsewhere, including the Maoris in New Zealand and ethnic minorities in the mountains of the Philippines.
 
Attaining autonomy for Taiwan’s aborigines has been elusive and complex. Linda Arrigo, a Taipei-based academic who follows indigenous affairs in Asia and North America, said efforts at autonomy have failed so far because tribes have intermingled and their members live outside ancestral homelands.
 
“It’s very difficult to have [an autonomy law] for geographic reasons. There’s no way to do it like on the level of nations. In Taiwan, about half of indigenous people are in the cities anyway,” said Arrigo.
 
The cabinet proposed a self-rule bill in 2011, but indigenous activists criticized it as empty because it did not give aborigines their own land. With nothing else on the table, indigenous activists said the self-governance changes passed in parliament on January 14 may be the closest they get to autonomy.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid