Aboriginal legislator blames Han Chinese for rural mishaps

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff

An independent aboriginal legislator yesterday accused some ruling party colleagues of taking bribes from Han Chinese, whose exploitation should be blamed for the natural disasters in central Taiwan earlier this month. And one of the Democratic Progressive Party legislators, Tsai Huang-liang, vowed to file a libel lawsuit against the accuser, May Kao-Chin, saying the independent was fanning ethnic conflicts between the aborigines and Han Chinese. The mountains in central Taiwan have seen several major fatal floods and rock slides in the past few years.

While many government officials and experts have put the blame on exploitation, it remains a controversy when it comes to deciding who is most at fault — the aborigines living in the mountains or the Han Chinese settlers.

The row has been sparked again since the disaster triggered by Typhoon Mindulle. Trying to defend the aborigines, Kao-Chin said most of the exploiters are Han Chinese who cut down trees for illegal farming and other businesses. She alleged more than 2,700 Han Chinese settlers have formed a lobbying group with each paying a monthly NT$250,000 to some DPP lawmakers. The lawmakers would then force the government to turn a blind eye to the illegal use on land they lease in the mountains’ conservation zones, she said.

In several Cabinet meetings since early this year, it has been decided that legal actions against these exploiters should be put on hold and that their lease contracts should still be valid, Kao-Chin said. “These decisions are like legalizing the illegal,” said Kao-Chin, who identified the guilty party as DPP legislators Tsai Huang-liang and Lin Feng-hsi, Nantou County Magistrate Lin Tsung-nan and State Minister Lin Sheng-feng. “If May Kao-Chin does not apologize, I’ll sue her for libel tomorrow,” vowed Tsai. He said the lobbying group was formed mostly by poor farmers who could never afford the NT$250,000 monthly bribe that Kao-Chin claimed each of them gave lawmakers. “This (Kao-Chin’s allegation) is an insult to the poor farmers,” said Tsai. He revealed that the Cabinet meetings Kao-Chin mentioned were also attended by lawmakers from opposition parties, including Yen Ching-pao, head of the alliance of independent legislators. “Out of election concerns, Kao-Chin has been fanning conflicts between the aborigines and Han Chinese settlers,” said Tsai. Minister Lin Sheng-feng also denied he had decided to stop prosecuting exploiters.