From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Taiwan's Aborigines Urged to Vote in Referendum to Proclaim Island
Tue, 16 Mar 2004 14:40:34 +0800
Taiwan Church News 2716, 15 through 21 March 2004
Reported by Gu Hao-jan. Translated and Rewritten by David Alexander
On March 8th Yushan Theological College, an agency of the Presbyterian Church
in Taiwan dedicated to educating church workers for Aboriginal congregations
and ministries, called together Protestant and Roman Catholic clergy for a
seminar on Taiwan's upcoming (March 20th) National Referendum. Participants
voiced approval of the referendum process and urged their Aboriginal
compatriots to cast ballots as a testimony to their identity as the masters
this island nation.
College president Pusing Taly (Kao Wan-chin) spoke from the standpoint of his
faith. He said that as a citizen of Taiwan he had both a right and a duty to
participate in this historical moment. "Aborigines," he said, "must bravely
use the referendum to speak out. Support of the referendum should not depend
on which party one supports." He noted that though he had hoped for a
only 50 to 60 clergy came out for the seminar. Nonetheless, the participants
crossed denominational lines.
He went on to say that under past oppression Aborigines had rarely stood up
let their voices be heard, but that those times had passed. Hereinafter it
will be seen that Aboriginal clergy are concerned about social problems and
fearlessly enter into the dialogue. He believes that after the referendum
concurrent presidential election Aborigines will have faith in their future
and there will be no turning back.
Representatives of a number of Taiwan's Aboriginal political and social
alliances are promoting a movement to "get out the Aboriginal vote" for the
referendum. They presented a joint slate of five positions and called on
their compatriots not to neglect their political rights.
The five principles are:
1) Aborigines view the referendum as testimony to human rights and universal
2) Aborigines call on the government to protect the peace and security of
Taiwan and legally support the referendum process.
3) Aborigines will cross political party lines to participate in the vote.
4) Aborigines demand that laws affecting our rights and welfare be changed by
5) Aborigines call on Taiwan's people to respect this homeland through the
The Rev. Yabu Siat, pastor of Smangus Presbyterian Church, is the
of one alliance. He said the China Nationalist Party's rejection of the
referendum was a negative action and asserted that the people of Taiwan
take part in the vote. He characterized the referendum as a statement to
regarding peace through dialogue and attitudes of mutual respect across the
Taiwan straits. According to his understandings, the Aborigines are the
masters of this land upon which God has settled many diverse ethnic groups.
Aborigines and all of the inhabitants of this land share in discussion of the
problems of sovereignty, so Aborigines themselves cannot neglect their
responsibility to vote.
The Rev. Utux Lbak, pastor of Sinkina Presbyterian Church in Hsin Chu County
said that the referendum is of utmost importance to Aborigines. Churches
encourage their members to cast their ballots. He cited biblical teaching on
the divine origin of human rights, human equality and the right to decide
one's own future. "Under military threat from China," he said, "Taiwan's
Christians must support the referendum process as a matter of faith and call
for peaceful dialogue."
Pusing Taly offered a personal opinion on the presidential election that
will also be held on March 20th. He said that Aboriginal churches should
support a candidate with local roots who stands with and respects Aborigines.
He pointed out the performance of Taiwan's incumbent president, Chen
Shui-bian, on issues important to Aboriginal people as an example of respect.
Yabu Siat said that his preference in the presidential ballot was for a
candidate who protected the rights, equality and self-determination of the
Aboriginal peoples of Taiwan; one who would seek to establish those rights by
a referendum process in the future.
Chang Chun-hsiung, a non-Aboriginal who formerly served as Premier in
Taiwan's Central Government, addressed the group as a brother in Christ. He
stated frankly that the movement for a national referendum had met resistance
from the opposition parties in Taiwan's legislature. Mindful that many
Aborigines have supported those opposition parties, he offered his sincere
thanks to the many Aboriginal clergy who participated in the seminar.
The event concluded with a statement from one Aboriginal alliance calling
on all tribes to work to get out the vote on March 20th. They passed out bars
of soap to symbolize the clean hearts of the Aboriginal and non-aboriginal
residents of Taiwan who would work together as friends to pass the
For More Information: Pusing Taly firstname.lastname@example.org
Yabu Sait +886 0919 972 404
Utux Lbak email@example.com
Taiwan Church News is published weekly in Taiwan's local languages.
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