Icyang ･ Parod
Tsai Ing-wen announced her Indigenous Peoples policy during her presidential campaign on August 1, 2015, which included drafting legislation to ensure land rights, generating sustainable economic development, and creating equal development opportunities for urban indigenous peoples among the nine concrete policy propositions put forward. In her inauguration speech on May 20, 2016, she further declared the following: “The new government will address issues concerning indigenous peoples with an apologetic attitude. My administration will work to rebuild an indigenous historical perspective, progressively promote indigenous autonomous governance, restore indigenous languages and cultures, and improve the livelihood of indigenous communities.” On August 1 of the same year, President Tsai Ing-wen made an official apology to indigenous peoples on behalf of the government and established the Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee within the Office of the President, with the President personally acting as Committee Convener. The Committee serves as a platform for the country and indigenous peoples to negotiate major policy guidelines on an equal footing. The policy guidelines proposed by President Tsai became the foundation upon which we promoted indigenous peoples policies. The Indigenous Historical Justice and the Transitional Justice Committee personally convened by the President every three months, setting an example for the entire government and driving relevant ministries and agencies to propose laws, regulations, and measures, and work together to implement policy from a perspective that respects indigenous subjectivity. Therefore, in a short span of four years, we have amassed fruitful achievements in our efforts on many fronts. Here, I would like to highlight six major breakthroughs that we have made. Firstly, the Indigenous Languages Development Act. Indigenous languages were viewed as dialects and were banned for an exceptionally long time, leading to a generation of indigenous peoples who have lost their mother languages in modern times. The Indigenous Languages Development Act enacted in 2017 states in its first article that indigenous languages are national languages. Indigenous language teachers who could only receive hourly pay in the past are now considered fulltime teachers on fixed salaries. Furthermore, the Act stipulates that indigenous groups establish organizations to promote indigenous languages in order to preserve and pass those languages on, among many other measures. Thus, at the inaugural national Indigenous Peoples’ Languages Development Conference on February 22, 2020, I made it a point to deliver my remarks in my indigenous language to highlight the fact that indigenous languages are indeed national languages, becoming the first Minister to deliver remarks entirely in an indigenous language at a national conference in the 23-year history of the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP). Secondly, setting up Culture and Health Centers far and wide so that elders can enjoy professional care that is tailored to their indigenous cultures and location. The number of Culture and Health Centers has increased to 413 from 121 in 2016, and the number of people served has increased to more than 13,000 from the 4,000 plus people served in 2016. The budget for these centers has also grown to exceed NT$1 billion from around NT$90 million in 2016. In order to encourage local indigenous peoples to become caregivers, we provided job opportunities to indigenous youths willing to return home and increased the caregiver salary from NT$15,000 in 2016 to NT$33,000. Moreover, using the NT$1 billion in funds from the Forward-Looking Infrastructure Program, we repaired spaces and added facilities to the Culture and Health Centers and worked to improve surrounding public facilities to provide elders with a safe and comfortable environment. The third is restitution of land justice. Since the era of Japanese colonial rule, indigenous reserve lands were considered state-owned until 1966, after which indigenous peoples could acquire ownership of indigenous reserve lands gratis after holding other rights to the land for 10 years (in 1986, this period was shortened to 5 years). On January 9, 2019, the President promulgated the amendment to Article 37 of the Slopeland Conservation and Utilization Act, removing the 5-year waiting period to acquire ownership. Thereafter, indigenous peoples can apply directly to acquire ownership. Around 30,000 indigenous peoples benefited immediately from this amendment, marking an important breakthrough in restitution of land justice. The fourth is logging ban compensation. Currently, 65% of indigenous reserve lands are designated for forestry use only and cannot be used for other development. This restriction on land rights impacts industry development for indigenous peoples. To carry out the spirit of compensation for restrictions in Article 21 of The Indigenous Peoples Basic Law, logging ban compensation was officially rolled out on July 1, 2016. More than 35,000 indigenous people benefited from this compensation in 2019. The total area of land that compensation covered reached 56,000 hectares and brought economic benefits of about NT$32.3 billion for Taiwan. In addition, the Legislative Yuan passed a third reading of amendments to The Logging Ban Compensation for Lands Reserved for Indigenous Peoples Act in December 2019, incorporating other indigenous reserve lands such as national parks, conservation areas, designated water area, and so on into the range of land eligible for compensation. The area of land covered by compensation will increase by 6,525 hectares, benefiting an additional four thousand plus indigenous people. The fifth is an investigation into the truth behind nuclear waste storage on Orchid Island. The nuclear waste storage site has always been a matter of pain for the Yami (Tao) People. Under the President’s commitment, the Executive Yuan established a task force to investigate the truth in October 2016. In the investigation report published in June 2018, it was revealed that the selection and decision process of the storage site was overseen by former Executive Yuan Premiers Chiang Ching-kuo and Sun Yun-suan. The entire process was classified, and the Yami (Tao) People were kept in the dark throughout. Based on the results of the investigation, the Executive Yuan approved relevant compensation guidelines in 2019, giving the Yami (Tao) People NT$2.55 billion in retroactive compensation and a further NT$220 million every three years for lease renewal in supplementary compensation. The sixth is creating urban Indigenous Peoples communities. At present, 47.9% of indigenous peoples have their household registration in urban cities. To resolve the issue of housing, the CIP used the NT$170 million in funding from the Forward-Looking Infrastructure Plan and worked together with local governments to build indigenous communities in 8 cities such as the Kanjin community in Taoyuan City and the Ziqiang New Village in Taichung City. These communities were built under the precondition of respecting community subjectivity and they provide urban indigenous peoples with a living environment that is at once safe and has cultural charm. Through amendments to the Housing Act, social housing is provided to indigenous peoples, and the CIP assisted local governments in setting up 4 social housing locations for indigenous peoples. Asides from the six major breakthroughs mentioned above, many other important accomplishments were made over the past four years. These include reactivation of the Austronesian Forum, starting an indigenous peoples radio station, creating close to 20,000 job opportunities, decriminalizing hunting and gathering, and so forth. These breakthroughs and leaps and bounds in progress were achieved thanks to the guidance and support from Executive Yuan Premiers Lin Chuan, Lai Ching-te, and Su Tseng-chang, as well as coordination from the Minister without Portfolio Lin Wan-i. In particular, the fact that the CIP budget was able to increase from NT$8.7 billion in 2016 to NT$11.3 billion in 2020 even during the government’s straining financial situation shows the determination of the government to ensure the rights and interests of indigenous peoples. This special edition takes stock of our efforts and aims to share and explain them to indigenous peoples and the whole nation. Historical justice and transitional justice for indigenous peoples has already been initiated. The relevant policies are in place and initial progress has been made. More importantly, with the staunch support of President Tsai Ing-wen, the government is gradually adopting policies that respect the will of the indigenous peoples. We are optimistic and look forward to the steady progression of indigenous peoples’ policies moving on the right path towards equality and joint prosperity.
- 書籍分類 ：政治/外交/國防
- 英文題名：Indigenous Peoples Policy Achievements 2016-2020 Special Issue