Aboriginal land rules break law: advocates

Government guidelines to delineate traditional Aboriginal areas violate the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law (原住民族基本法) and would rule out the inclusion of private land, Aboriginal rights advocates said yesterday, calling for a revision to leave the door open for the inclusion of private land.

“We do not understand the stance of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, which says we should settle for current guidelines and fight for improvements later,” Yapasuyongu Akuyanam, a Tsou and president of the Association for Taiwan Indigenous People’s Policy, said at a news conference, adding that the council could begin to delineate traditional areas on public land while considering revisions to include private land.

Aboriginal rights advocates have protested for months against the failure to include private land in the guidelines since they were announced earlier this year, including a nearly uninterrupted sit-in near the Presidential Office Building in Taipei.

“The current guidelines risk shaking the core of Aboriginal rights by poking holes in our traditional territories [by excluding private land],” Atayal People’s Council speaker Lbak Utuk Wuduk said, demanding that legislative caucuses outline a clear stance on whether traditional areas should include private land, as well as on allowing Aboriginal communities input and control over the delineation process.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Sra Kacaw (鄭天財), an Amis, said that legislative consideration of the council’s guidelines have stalled since cross-caucus negotiations in the International Administration Committee broke down last month, adding that “traditional areas” in the law should be interpreted as including private land.

“The current guidelines benefit Taiwan Sugar Corp and development firms. Why are they being excluded, even as privately owned Aboriginal ‘reserved land’ is included?” he said.

“The reality is that there can still be differentiation in executing Aboriginal communities’ rights to know and approve development on different types of land, and there will differing amounts of influence for different types of development,” Paiwan People’s Council preparation group member Ljegay Rupeljengan said. “Our concern is that if you exclude private land from traditional areas at the start, there will not be a way to win them back in the future.”

New Power Party Legislator Kawlo Iyun Pacidal also attended the news conference, while DPP Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩) sent a representative.

Protesters urge FEHD to drop case against old lady

Protesters have urged the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to drop charges against a 75-year-old woman for unlicensed hawking.

She’s accused of selling a cardboard box for one dollar.

About 30 people staged a protest outside the department’s office in Sheung Wan to voice their dissatisfaction with its action against the woman.

They brought along four kilogrammes of used cardboard boxes, with a market value of only two dollars, to show how hard it is for people at the grassroots level to make a living.

Au Lap-hang, the organiser of the protest, said it’s ridiculous that the department has pressed charges against an old woman.

The 75-year-old woman, surnamed Chu, was arrested by FEHD officers after she allegedly sold a cardboard box to a domestic helper for one dollar last week.

Her cart was also confiscated.

The Food and Health Secretary, Ko Wing-man, refused to comment on the case, as legal proceedings are underway.

But he said the government tries to emphasise both reason and compassion when enforcing the law.



Groups call for public Hoklo TV

A coalition of civic groups yesterday urged the government to establish a Hoklo-language (also known as Taiwanese) public television station to promote local culture and native language instruction.

Thirty-four groups led by the Taiwan Citizen Participation Association and the Taiwan Society called on the government not to ignore repeated calls for a station dedicated to Hoklo language and culture.

Although Hoklo is spoken by the majority of Taiwanese, the dominant media language is Mandarin, which hinders the development of Hoklo, Hakka and Aboriginal languages, the groups said.

While it is legitimate to prioritize the preservation of Hakka and Aboriginal languages with specialized media, the nation is gradually losing its Hoklo heritage and the language should also be protected, they said.

Although Hoklo is spoken by 81.9 percent of Taiwanese, there are no laws, independent government agency or television station dedicated to the language’s development, association chairman Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳) said.

Taiwanese who speak Aboriginal languages account for 1.4 percent of the total population, and their languages are protected by the Aboriginal Language Development Act (原住民族語言發展法), the Council of Indigenous Peoples and Taiwan Indigenous TV, Ho said.

Hakka-speaking Taiwanese account for 6.6 percent of the population, and their culture is promoted by the Hakka Basic Act (客家基本法), the Hakka Affairs Council and Hakka TV, he added.

“Former minister of culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) under the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] administration expressed a vision for a Hoklo-language station. Why does the Democratic Progressive Party government not dare to say the same?” singer Chen Ming-chang (陳明章) said.

“Laws or budgets are not the problem — the problem is a [lack of] resolve,” Chen said.

Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) had announced that a Hoklo-language radio station would be established.

However, she has not made any clear statement responding to calls for the establishment of a Hoklo TV station, Chen said, criticizing the government’s passivity over the issue.

Taiwan Society vice president Tiunn Hok-chu (張復聚), who is also a physician, said many patients can only speak Hoklo, and doctors should speak to patients in their native languages to ensure high-quality communication and treatment.

Taiwanese below the age of 40 can usually understand Hoklo, but do not speak the language, and it is feared that later generations would not even be able to understand it, he said.

“We are all culpable if our native language disappears after 30 years,” Tiunn said.


Little damage as Merbok skirts Hong kong

Hong Kong has escaped any serious effects after the first storm of the typhoon season passed just east of the territory.

Merbok made landfall over Mirs Bay shortly before midnight and weakened into a tropical storm.

The Observatory says it will drop the Number 8 signal to Number 3 shortly.

There have been heavy rains and winds in excess of 100 kilometres per hour, causing over a dozen trees to topple, but so far no reports of serious damage.

Over 200 people made use of 22 temporary shelters opened in various districts.

Dozens of flights have been cancelled and hundreds delayed as a result of the storm. Travellers have been urged to check their flight details before departing for the airport.

The government says several people have sought medical assistance at public hospitals, but it’s unclear if their injuries are related to the storm.



Doctors say government failing on child health

Doctors groups have criticised the government for lacking a comprehensive child health policy over the past 20 years.

The Paediatric Society and the Paediatric Foundation polled over 1,300 parents of kindergarten and primary pupils on mental health issues.

More than 60 percent of the parents ranked the current education policy worse than before the handover. And almost 90 percent said they received inadequate support.

The chairman of the Hong Kong Paediatric Foundation, Dr Chan Chok-wan, said the government needs a holistic policy.

He said: “I think if you try to summarise the policy of the current government, I would say that in medical terms it is palliative, meaning you only treat what is in front of you. But you don’t have any idea that prevention is better than cure.”

Chan recommended the next administration to set up Children’s commission for a better policy in children’s health.



CGA drill features drug inspection, anti-terrorism action

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) conducted a drill off Keelung, northern Taiwan on Saturday, including a simulated anti-terrorism exercise at sea.

The CGA said the drill is conducted every two years and this year the focus was on inspecting for drugs, anti-terrorism, recovering hijacked vessels and sea rescue.

The highlight of the drill was special forces abseiling from helicopters onto a ship to rescue hostages.

The CGA drill was held in conjunction with the Navy, Air Force and National Airborne Service Corps, in a joint air and sea operation that involved 1,672 personnel, 16 ships and five helicopters.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) presided over the drill. Before boarding a CGA ship, she praised coast guard officials at a ceremony held at Keelung Harbor for their role in the recent seizure of 689kg of heroin, the largest drugs seizure in years.



‘One Country Two Systems’ is drifting, says Ip

New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip says she thinks the “One Country Two Systems” principle has drifted apart in recent years.

Speaking on a Commercial Radio programme about the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, she said independence is not practical, and young people should understand that Hong Kong is only a special administration under Chinese rule and has no bargaining power.

She said both from the perspective of the central government, and from the viewpoint of some Hong Kong people, the implementation of the “One Country Two systems” principle had deviated from the original intention.

Ip said Beijing may think that its authority and sovereignty had not been respected, while some locals might feel the SAR’s high level of autonomy had been threatened.
She said the incoming administration had a lot of work to do to promote the concept and improve mutual trust.