From the Worldwide Faith News archives

TCN: Taiwan's Pingpu tribe natives demand recognition of their aboriginal status

From "Lydia Ma" <>
Date Fri, 8 May 2009 16:27:44 +0800

>Taiwan Church News

>2984 Edition

>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

>aboriginal tribes.

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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