From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
TCN: Taiwan's Pingpu tribe natives demand recognition of their aboriginal status
"Lydia Ma" <email@example.com>
Fri, 8 May 2009 16:27:44 +0800
>Taiwan Church News
>May 4~10, 2009
Taiwan's Pingpu tribe natives demand recognition of their aboriginal status
>Reported by Chiou Kuo-rong
>Written by Lydia Ma
Aren’t Pingpu natives considered Taiwanese aboriginals too? However, according an announcement by the Legislative Yuan on
April 29th, Pingpu aboriginals’ names do not comply with regulations on the format for aboriginal names. As a result, Taiwanese
government does not consider Pingpu aboriginals as an aboriginal group and they do not enjoy the rights and privileges granted to
>other aboriginal groups.
A crowd of roughly 5,000 people gathered in front of the Presidential Palace on May 2nd to hold a press conference, protest this
matter and voice their concern to President Ma. The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) also took part and Associate General
Secretary Sing ‘Olam said such a misguided interpretation of the law not only disregards Pingpu as Taiwanese aboriginals but also
>shows utter disrespect toward Pingpu tribes.
Crowds of protesters gathered in front of the Presidential Palace holding signs and shouting slogans to rebut the Legislative Yuan’s
announcement. Sing ‘Olam said denying the reality of Pingpu’s existence throughout Taiwanese history is an offense against God’s
creation. “Humans cannot choose their lineage because it is determined by God and unchangeable,” he said. He demanded that the
government issue an apology and rectify their decision by allowing Pingpu aboriginals to restore their aboriginal names.
Sing ‘Olam berated the Ma administration for denying the existence of Pingpu aboriginals in Taiwan through legislation, while
simultaneously using underhanded tactics to force Taiwanese people into accepting the administration’s position that “Taiwanese
people are also Chinese people”. He reiterated the PCT’s support for the recognition of Pingpu aboriginals and the restoration of
>their original names.
Protesters chanted “We are Pingpu!” and sang aboriginal songs during the rally. Many of them wore aboriginal attire, sang native
songs, and some even danced to the tune of Siraya music to demonstrate that Pingpu culture had not faded from Taiwanese
Banners displaying the name of PCT churches could be seen among the crowd at the rally, including churches from Tainan
Presbytery such as Kau-Pi Church. These banners served as a reminder that many Pingpu aboriginals are Christians who have been
in Taiwan from the very beginning. When missionaries came to Taiwan in the 19th century, many aboriginals accepted Christ. To
this day, many PCT churches in rural areas are filled with Pingpu aboriginals. Though their culture and lifestyle may have changed
significantly over the years, their presence has never left Taiwan.
During the rally, Siraya Association Secretary General Wan Shu-chuan, who is also a member of Kau-Pi Church, and other
supporters delivered a petition letter to the Presidential Palace and were met inside by a public affairs official.
According to Wan, the official did not offer any public statement, however, the association was clear that it expected a response
from the Ma administration within a week. With regards to the administration’s exclusion of Pingpu as an aboriginal tribe, the
association hopes that the error can be rectified, otherwise, it will not rule out a lawsuit in addition to besieging the Legislative
>Yuan’s Council of Indigenous Peoples.
Officials from the Ma administration worry that the inclusion of Pingpu tribe as an aboriginal group will significantly change the
political landscape by altering the proportion of aboriginals represented in the legislature and the proportion of resources allotted to
aboriginals. Some officials have even insinuated that this inclusion will harm or compromise benefits and entitlements given to other
However, should Pingpu tribe be considered as an aboriginal group, the percentage of aboriginal representatives will need to
increase significantly and the leverage aboriginal peoples will have in government institutions will also increase.
Some critics have made fun of the movement to include Pingpu as aboriginals as nothing more than an attempt by some people to
get hold of special privileges and benefits, which has nothing to do with ethnic pride or recognition.
In response, supporters of Pingpu aboriginals pointed out that benefits and compensations granted to aboriginal people, such as
bonus points in university applications, are in line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Furthermore,
Pingpu aboriginals who lived in the plains were the ones whose land and culture were completely stripped away from them in the
past. In contrast, aboriginals who lived up in the mountains did not suffer as much. However, aboriginals living in the mountains
have already received compensation while Pingpu aboriginals have gotten nothing. Therefore, Pingpu aboriginals hope that they can
finally receive their due and justice can be restored.
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