Lawmakers across party lines yesterday accused the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) of failing to fully defend Aboriginal rights, allowing development projects to take place on traditional Aboriginal domains without residents’ consent despite the demands of the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民族基本法).
Holding a map that shows more than a dozen ongoing or planned development projects located within Aboriginal domains in Taitung County, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) accused council Minister Sun Ta-chuan (孫大川) of failing to defend Aboriginal rights.
“You are a Puyuma from Taitung County, minister. Look at this map, look at what’s happening in your home county,” Tuan said during a question-and-answer session of the Internal Administration Committee meeting. “In the past few years, Aborigines have been protesting development projects in their traditional domains. Why are you not doing anything to help them?”
By law, Aboriginal communities must provide consent before development or research activities can take place in their domains, Tuan said.
“The council has always stood firmly for the rights of Aborigines and we’re concerned about development projects in traditional domains,” Sun said. “However, we’re a country based on the rule of law and before the bills on Aboriginal land and sea domains and autonomy are passed, we cannot do anything legally to stop such development projects.”
“I plead for help from all lawmakers to quickly pass legislation so that we can have a legal basis to defend Aborigines’ right to their traditional domains,” he added.
However, Tuan said the council is not working hard enough even when it has the legal capacity to do so.
The council is not doing anything to help the Tao Aborigines’ struggle to remove nuclear waste from Orchid Island, also known as Lanyu (蘭嶼), Tuan said, adding it was unable to stop Nantian Village (南田) in Taitung County’s Daren Township (達仁) — a traditional domain of the Paiwan Aborigines — from being a candidate for a new nuclear waste storage facility even though a council representative had participated in Taiwan Power Co’s site selection meetings.
Sun said the council representative protested at the meeting, but those who agreed to make Nantian a candidate outnumbered the council representative in the voting.
Sun again asked the legislature for help in passing laws related to Aboriginal land and autonomy.
Tuan said the legislature has yet to receive draft bills from the council and asked Sun to do so by the end of next month, to which Sun said a bill was being reviewed by the Executive Yuan and that he could not guarantee when it would be referred to the legislature.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Liao Kuo-tung (廖國棟) — an Amis Aborigine — and Chien Tung-ming (簡東明) — a Paiwan — as well as People First Party Legislator Lin Cheng-er (林正二) — an Amis — also criticized the council and the government for what they said was slow progress in fulfilling promises of Aboriginal autonomy.