Ma's comments about aborigines trigger criticism

DPP legislative candidate tells ex-KMT chiefthat remarks 'hurt the ones who love you'

Opposition Kuomintang presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday was heavily criticized for his recent and allegedly discriminatory remarks about the aborigines of the Amis tribes in the Sijhou Community, Taipei County who are likely to be forced to relocate by the end of this year.
Ma's comments were made on December 10 during a campaign stop in Sindian City, Taipei County, when a Sijhou woman pleaded with him to prevent the community from being relocated.
"I will treat you as human beings and citizens, and I will educate you well and provide you with opportunities," Ma said, adding, "Aborigines should adjust their mentality - if you come into the city you have to play by its rules."
Ma's comment created uproar among squatters of the Sijhou Community, who illegally reside on the left bank of the Sindian River, just across the river from busy downtown Sindian City.
Ruling Democratic Progressive Party legislative candidate Ho Jin-chu, who is an aborigine, yesterday told a press conference, "You (Ma) despise the aborigines so much and hurt the ones who love you." He demanded that Ma apologize to the aborigines.
The Cabinet-level Council of Indigenous Peoples announced yesterday that it would hold a press conference today to ask for Ma to apologize to the country's aborigines for his degrading remarks.
DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said that Ma either made a mistake in his statement or he truly is prejudiced against the aborigines. He made an open invitation to Ma to debate on the controversy.
The issue of the Sijhou Community relocation arose from a plan by the Taipei County Government to relocate the community by the end of the year so it can turn part of the site into a riverside park.
The Sijhou Community Self-Help Association has formed a support group to petition the government to allow them to remain in their original community.
The association said that the community has existed for more than 30 years and most of its residents are migrants from Hualien County who are work some of the most dangerous construction jobs in the Taipei metropolitan area. The community includes 45 households which house nearly 200 people, and holds cultural activities periodically.
The county government has urged Sijhou Community households to register to move into a government housing complex in Sansia Township built exclusively to accommodate the aborigines from the Sindian and Sansia areas. However, few have finished the registration even though the deadline, the last day of the year, is approaching.
The association said that asking them to move to the housing complex is like asking them to give up their current jobs and lifestyles and to foot the additional bill for rent, which they can not afford. According to Taipei County Indigenous Poeples Bureau, there are three type of rental units available in the housing complex, with the three-bedroom house costing NT$6,048, two-bedroom costing NT$4,536, and the suit costing NT$2,267 per month.

Updated : 2021-04-17 22:20 GMT+08:00