The Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee (hereafter "the Committee") convened its 12th meeting on February 27. President Tsai Ing-wen, the convener of the Committee, personally presided over the meeting, which lasted about two and a half hours.
Two reports were on the agenda for this meeting. In one of the reports, the Subcommittee on History presented the results of the latest phase of its work, while the other report focused on the progress of efforts to promote the development of indigenous languages. The reports were followed by discussion of the principles for handling proposals from Committee members.
The report from the Subcommittee on History -- entitled "The Establishment and Interpretation of Historical Markers Related to Major Historical Events Involving Indigenous Peoples" -- was delivered by Subcommittee Convener Wusai Lafin (林素珍). To prepare the report, members of the Subcommittee work team visited locations across Taiwan to survey commemorative markers for major events set up by various indigenous peoples, highlighting the expectations indigenous peoples have about relating their own historical point of view.
In response to the report, Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) Deputy Minister Calivat．Gadu (鍾興華), Deputy Minister of Education (MOE) Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠), and Vice Minister of Culture (MOC) Lee Lien-chuan (李連權) detailed policy measures taken by various government agencies to reflect the indigenous historical point of view. After exchanging views with Committee members, President Tsai expressed the following three viewpoints:
First, the president thanked the Subcommittee on History for their report. In the past, indigenous history has mostly been interpreted by those in power, or by dominant ethnic groups, ignoring the point of view of indigenous peoples. Now, indigenous peoples are finally able to reclaim their own agency by writing about and commemorating history from their point of view. This is the most critical step in promoting historical justice.
Second, the president praised the CIP for publishing a series of books focused on the history of indigenous peoples, the MOE for attaching importance to changing curricula and teaching materials, and the MOC for improving the preservation of cultural assets. As for how to fairly present diverse historical points of view, the president asked each ministry to continue their efforts, saying that their work was not completed simply by publishing books and that there were many areas in which further collective efforts could be made in the future.
Third, the president pointed out that the results of work done by the Committee's five subcommittees, including the Subcommittee on History, are all part of the history collectively written by the indigenous peoples and constitute an important foundation for promoting relevant policies in the future. The president asked the subcommittees to appropriately compile and preserve the results of their work based on the principles of "clarifying historical facts, spurring societal communication, and putting forward appropriate policy proposals," and she asked staff to continue to provide assistance.
CIP Minister Icyang Parod (夷將．拔路兒) then presented a report entitled "World Mother Languages Day: Promoting the Development of Indigenous Languages." Following a response from MOE Deputy Minister Fan, the president exchanged views with Committee members, and then expressed the following three opinions:
First, the president thanked the CIP for the report, and noted that the revitalization of indigenous languages has been a goal her administration has been working towards for the past few years. She said she was very happy to gradually see important successes achieved thanks to the collective participation of many indigenous peoples.
Second, the president emphasized that the government's responsibility is to create an environment conducive to the learning and speaking of indigenous languages, and to this end we have passed laws, established a foundation, and increased the budget for relevant policies. We have also established a system of full-time indigenous language teachers and indigenous language promoters. The president expressed hope that these policies will serve as support for indigenous peoples and said the government will continue to work together with indigenous peoples.
Third, the president specially stated that the development of indigenous languages is still in the initial stage, and it is necessary to train more teachers and give the younger generation basic language capabilities. Only then can we move toward using these languages in daily life and professional settings, she said. This is a long-term task that will require a collective effort from everyone.
At the meeting, Committee members made 16 proposals and nine extemporaneous motions, and staff suggested that responses be given after all had been sent to the Executive Yuan for further study. After discussion among members of the Committee, besides confirming the principles for handling proposals, the president also issued a directive instructing Minister without Portfolio Lin Wan-i (林萬億) to take note of and follow up on matters which can be handled at the administrative level. She also stated that we will use the power of the government to continue to promote work on major long-term issues and legislation, and that the government would not give up on solving problems just because there are difficulties involved.