Taiwan Church News
August 2~8, 2010
Editorial: Enough of the arrogance
Translated by Lydia Ma
On August 8, as Taiwan remembered the first anniversary since Typhoon Morakot, many social organizations staged concerts and events to remember this tragedy and reflected on how we could’ve responded better as a nation
Led by PCT leaders and pastors volunteering at various PCT rebuilding centers, PCT members were gathered at National Nei-Pu Senior Agricultural-Industrial Vocational High School in Pingtung County for a memorial service filled with music. There was much introspection and discussion on the many challenges facing typhoon victims as rebuilding efforts continued.
Besides hosting this event, PCT leaders also took part in an overnight rally outside of the Presidential Palace on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei. They’re concerned the Ma administration’s “Special Statute for Reconstruction for Post-Typhoon Morakot Disaster” policy is becoming a form of bloodless genocide against Aborigines.
It is PCT’s conviction that the Ma administration’s insistence that Aborigines leave their homes and reservations because the land needs to rest awhile and landslides have made these areas too dangerousdoesn’t hold water, even though it may sound rational.
First of all, not all mountainous areas are unsafe for living and there are various examples proving this point. For instance, when Typhoon Morakot made its landfall, Bunun Aborigines living in Nansalu in NamasiyaTownship followed their pastor’s lead and climbed up a mountain to take refuge in a region their ancestors used to live. These people weathered the storm safe and sound.
In another instance, Aborigines living in Kucapungane in Pingtung County discovered that though their homes were utterly destroyed by the typhoon, “Old Kucapungane” – the reservation where their ancestors had lived – was barely touched by the typhoon.
These two instances prove Aborigines’ ancestral homes are still safe and viable places to live. In contrast, the more recent places Aborigines have been living in after Japanese and KMT occupation of Taiwan forced them out of their ancestors’ dwelling places have actually put their lives in jeopardy.
When the Ma administration began searching for alternative shelters for Aborigines whose homes were destroyed by the typhoon, it consulted experts and scholars to enquire whether the places they had in mind were safe. Unfortunately, it left out a critical party in the consultation process: Aborigine leaders and representatives.
PCT firmly holds that policies on post-Morakot reconstruction must incorporate input from Aborigine leaders. We must respect Aborigine culture and age-old wisdom and we must decide the future of Aborigine reservations together. It is not our place as city-dwellers to impose our opinions and values on Aborigines.
It is disappointing to see a lack of introspection on the part of government officials in the aftermath of the typhoon for all the damages they’ve wrought on the nation’s forests and mountains over the years. We could say that 10% of deforestation in Taiwan occurred during Japanese colonization while the remaining 90% happened under KMT’s watch. Massive deforestation in the past 50 years has precipitated drought and landslides today.
In contrast, Aborigines’ traditions teach them to protect the environment because of the interdependent relationship they have with it. We suggest that if the government really cares about environmentalism and preserving Taiwan’s mountains, it should consider hiring Aborigines to be guardians of our forests and mountains and encourage them to stay in their reservations to do that.
It is our hope the Ma administration will tone down its arrogant rhetoric, take back the now infamous “I see you as humans” comment about Aborigines, and agree that Aborigines are also masters of this country. Aborigines have a rich heritage and culture and they, too, contribute toward making Taiwan a flourishing country.