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Taiwan People's Party expands into Hualien County

Ko Wen-je claims fate brought his party and the Indigenous village together

Ko Wen-je stands with Chiu Hui-ing in the center of the newly formed TPP caucus in the Sioulin village in Hualien County.  

Ko Wen-je stands with Chiu Hui-ing in the center of the newly formed TPP caucus in the Sioulin village in Hualien County.   (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s People’s Party (民衆黨) (TPP) has set up a new caucus in an Indigenous village in Hualien County on the country’s eastern coast.

It was established within the Sioulin Village Representative Association (秀林鄉代表會), which totals eleven representatives, five of which have now joined the TPP. These include Lai Hui-mei (賴惠美), Chiu Hui-ing (邱惠英), Chen Long (陳龍), Wang Tse-yuan (王則元), and Chin Yun-hsiang (金云湘).

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) dropped in to nearby Ci-hui, Sheng-an temples to worship before visiting the association to proceed with formalities and hold a brief press conference on Monday (Dec. 27). The caucus members received Ko who presented them with a letter of appointment, according to a CNA report.

Sioulin has a population of about 15,000 with 85 percent belonging to the Indigenous Truku people (太魯閣族), per a local government website. Ko said this is the first local caucus for the TPP and that it represents a new opportunity for Taiwan’s political ecosystem.

Five representatives of the village representative association have joined the TPP, with Chiu Hui-ing (邱惠英) appointed convener of the caucus. Speaking to reporters, Chiu said she identifies with the ideals of the party and its vision for Taiwan’s future, and believes the policy platform matches the views of young people.

Chiu said though she was a Kuomintang (KMT) member before, the local group has not held together and even paying party dues has not been taken seriously. In this past election cycle, many local representatives ran as independents rather than under the KMT banner, she added.

Ko said that the village representative association is an important power in the local tribe and that authorities need to understand and engage with Indigenous issues. Ko says the tribal communities should use technological resources to digitize, and industrialize their communities so that tribespeople will willingly come back and develop their home villages.

This, Ko contends, would be preferable to simply encouraging tourism to the villages by relying on old stereotypes of idyllic village life to attract city dwellers to come to the mountainous areas for a short stay.

Ko said Taipei City is committed to the development of the villages and has numerous partnerships in place. One he mentioned is a program for children from the village to visit Taipei Children's Amusement Park, another is enabling listing village delicacies and cultural products on the city’s marketing channels.

“This was meant to be,” Ko said, suggesting fate brought the village and Taipei City Government together, which resulted in a TPP caucus. He said the caucus was formed after the locals reached out to his administration to request assistance to set up supply channels and get better market access to sell their local agricultural products.