Press conference following second meeting of Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee
The Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee held its second meeting on the afternoon of June 30, with convener President Tsai Ing-wen personally presiding. The meeting ran for about three hours and 20 minutes, after which a press conference was held to explain what transpired at the meeting and what matters were discussed. The press conference was held by Deputy Conveners Walis Perin (瓦歷斯‧貝林) and Pasuya Poiconu (浦忠成), Executive Secretary Yao Jen-to (姚人多), Deputy Executive Secretary Icyang Parod (夷將．拔路兒), Minister without Portfolio Lin Wan-i (林萬億), and Director General of the Council of Agriculture's Forestry Bureau Lin Hwa-ching (林華慶).
The press conference began with Deputy Convener Pasuya Poiconu discussing the reports submitted to the committee. The first report was presented by Minister without Portfolio Lin Wan-i regarding the Executive Yuan Investigative Task Force for Nuclear Waste Storage on Lanyu Island. His report highlighted the fact that, following President Tsai's apology to indigenous peoples on August 1, 2016, governmental agencies have made clear progress in researching matters of historical truth.
Deputy Convener Pasuya Poiconu noted that the second report was presented by Minister of the Council of Indigenous Peoples Icyang Parod regarding the work of the Executive Yuan's Indigenous Peoples Basic Law Promotion Committee. Committee members all lauded the efforts of the Executive Yuan and the Council of Indigenous Peoples. A number of members particularly noted their concern for the implementation status following passage of the Indigenous Languages Development Act, and made recommendations during the meeting. President Tsai further encouraged the Executive Yuan to continue holding meetings of the Promotion Committee on a regular basis in order to make efforts toward implementing the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law.
Deputy Convener Pasuya Poiconu indicated that the third report was on Reconciling for Coexistence and Moving Forward toward Sustainable Development, presented by Director General Lin Hwa-ching of the Forestry Bureau, in what could be considered a historic moment. In the past, there have been many conflicts between members of various tribes and the Forestry Bureau over land ownership and utilization of natural resources. So although some indigenous people feel enmity toward the bureau, that report represented the beginning of a more positive dialogue between the bureau and indigenous peoples.
Deputy Convener Pasuya Poiconu also noted that the work outlines of the five thematic subcommittees on land matters, culture, languages, history, and reconciliation had been passed during the meeting. President Tsai urged committee members to participate in the subcommittees and express their views; at the same time, to allow subcommittees work to proceed smoothly, she instructed Deputy Executive Secretary Icyang Parod to coordinate the efforts of related agencies to ensure that the necessary manpower and resources are available.
Deputy Convener Pasuya Poiconu mentioned that committee members had been very active in submitting proposals during the meeting, with a total of 21 formal proposals and 13 extemporaneous motions being put forward. Among them was President Tsai's instruction to continue discussions from the first meeting regarding the draft amendments to the Status Act for Indigenous Peoples, and to request that the Executive Yuan submit those amendments with all due speed to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation in response to requests by the Pingpu tribes.
Minister without Portfolio Lin Wan-i followed with a supplemental explanation of the process of policy formation in regard to establishing the Lanyu Storage Site, and the agencies and personnel that had been involved. He pointed out that from 1972-1978, policy decisions on the storage site were conducted by the related agencies on a classified basis, and that the members of the Yami /Tao tribe would have been unaware of them.
Director General Lin Hwa-ching of the Forestry Bureau further explained that the bureau shared with Taiwan's indigenous peoples the core principle of sustainability. He expressed hope that with greater understanding of traditional indigenous cultures, and more frequent exchanges and dialogue with indigenous tribes, respect for their traditional knowledge regarding their natural surroundings could be combined with modern science and technology for common management of natural resources. He pointed out that in the future, the Forestry Bureau would actively cooperate with the Subcommittee on Land Matters of the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee to undertake related surveys and identify and demarcate traditional indigenous regions.
Following the press conference, the two deputy conveners, Walis Perin and Pasuya Poiconu, the Forestry Bureau's Director General Lin Hwa-ching, and Minister without Portfolio Lin Wan-i came down from the stage to shake hands, expressing the mutual desire of both government agencies and tribal members to pursue the truth, and their determination and desire to seek reconciliation.