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3152 Edition
July 23-29, 2012
Headline News

Indigenous residents protest against Taipower’s arrogance and discrimination in handling repairs

Reported by Simon Lin

Written by Lydia Ma

The torrential rain various regions across Taiwan experienced on June 11 of this year had a devastating effect on Taoyuan Area in Kaohsiung City. The area, which includes many indigenous boroughs, had already been struggling since Typhoon Morakot wreaked havoc in 2009. In the wake of the recent rainstorm, as many as 1,500 residents, have been without power for almost 40 days when the storm damaged power lines. Before this, Taoyuan was already struggling to recover and rebuild because of extensive damages from Typhoon Morakot

According to reports, calls for help to Taiwan Power Corporation in the past month have been ignored, prompting PCT member and former Kaohsiung County Councilor Hsieh Kuei-lai to transport supplies to various areas to help local residents. Unfortunately, Hsieh fell off a cliff during one of these trips and died. The incident became the last straw for many Bunun residents, who travelled down the mountain to protest against Taipower on July 17 at its regional office.

After travelling for 5 hours, about 50 indigenous people and their borough leader protested in front of Taipower’s Fengshan regional office. They held a large poster with their complaints and requests written on it and vowed that they would take their grievances to the national government and lodge a formal complaint.

In response to this outpouring of dissatisfaction, Taipower finally sprung to action and electricity was restored 2 days later to the delight indigenous residents . Commenting on Taipower’s response, the borough leader said, “It’s not that they are unable to do it, rather, they are unwilling to do it!” He added that Taipower had grown cocky and arrogant over the years and its sluggish response was also a result of discrimination against indigenous people. If the complaint had been filed by an urban entrepreneur, it would have been dealt with differently.

South Bunun Presbytery’s General Secretary Rev. Ibu said that former Kaohsiung councilor and Lavulang Presbyterian Church elder, Hsieh Kui-lai, had been helping local residents in Taoyuan by transporting supplies from boroughs located in the foothills to various churches located higher up in the mountains. Hsieh accidentally fell off a cliff during one of these trips and later died in the hospital. Ibu said that other borough leaders suspect that road conditions, including tall grass and badly built side roads, are to blame for this fatal accident. The road conditions also delayed paramedics’ rescue efforts to save Hsieh.

Photo provided by Morakot News Network

 
E-mail Print

3152 Edition
July 23-29, 2012
Headline News

Indigenous residents protest against Taipower’s arrogance and discrimination in handling repairs

Reported by Simon Lin

Written by Lydia Ma

The torrential rain various regions across Taiwan experienced on June 11 of this year had a devastating effect on Taoyuan Area in Kaohsiung City. The area, which includes many indigenous boroughs, had already been struggling since Typhoon Morakot wreaked havoc in 2009. In the wake of the recent rainstorm, as many as 1,500 residents, have been without power for almost 40 days when the storm damaged power lines. Before this, Taoyuan was already struggling to recover and rebuild because of extensive damages from Typhoon Morakot

According to reports, calls for help to Taiwan Power Corporation in the past month have been ignored, prompting PCT member and former Kaohsiung County Councilor Hsieh Kuei-lai to transport supplies to various areas to help local residents. Unfortunately, Hsieh fell off a cliff during one of these trips and died. The incident became the last straw for many Bunun residents, who travelled down the mountain to protest against Taipower on July 17 at its regional office.

After travelling for 5 hours, about 50 indigenous people and their borough leader protested in front of Taipower’s Fengshan regional office. They held a large poster with their complaints and requests written on it and vowed that they would take their grievances to the national government and lodge a formal complaint.

In response to this outpouring of dissatisfaction, Taipower finally sprung to action and electricity was restored 2 days later to the delight indigenous residents . Commenting on Taipower’s response, the borough leader said, “It’s not that they are unable to do it, rather, they are unwilling to do it!” He added that Taipower had grown cocky and arrogant over the years and its sluggish response was also a result of discrimination against indigenous people. If the complaint had been filed by an urban entrepreneur, it would have been dealt with differently.

South Bunun Presbytery’s General Secretary Rev. Ibu said that former Kaohsiung councilor and Lavulang Presbyterian Church elder, Hsieh Kui-lai, had been helping local residents in Taoyuan by transporting supplies from boroughs located in the foothills to various churches located higher up in the mountains. Hsieh accidentally fell off a cliff during one of these trips and later died in the hospital. Ibu said that other borough leaders suspect that road conditions, including tall grass and badly built side roads, are to blame for this fatal accident. The road conditions also delayed paramedics’ rescue efforts to save Hsieh.

Photo provided by Morakot News Network

 
E-mail Print

3152 Edition
July 23-29, 2012
Headline News

Advocacy groups say Taiwan’s human rights, democracy, and future on red alert

Reported by Chiou Kuo-rong

Written by Lydia Ma

Though it has been 25 years since martial law was lifted in Taiwan, it is increasingly hard to say whether democracy has advanced or regressed in the past quarter of a century. To mark this 25-year milestone, the Memorial Foundation of 228 and the National 228 Museum cohosted a film exhibit and a symposium on July 21, 2012. They invited Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty Executive Director Chang Chuen-fen and Cooloud Media Advocacy’s General Editor Sun Chiung-li as keynote speakers. Both speakers spoke about what they’d discovered based on their participation in social movements across Taiwan and underscored that human rights had ceased to advance and had even begun to regress under the Ma administration.

Chang said that executions restarted in 2010 even though a campaign to end the death penalty had begun in 1987. Death penalty sentences were handed out less and less frequently beginning in 1987 when Tang Ying-sheng was wrongfully sentenced to death. Soon after this incident, those campaigning against the death penalty began to uncover cases of judges and prosecutors working together against defendants, thus shedding light that judges were not as impartial as everyone had expected them to be. For this reason, those advocating to end the penalty, including the PCT which advocates for social justice based on Christian principles, often commented that a defendant’s lawyer had lost to a faulty judicial system.

Based on these circumstances, Chang said that a moratorium on the death penalty was good for Taiwan because it gave the government time to reflect and reform the judicial system and saved many people from a mistrial or wrongful sentences. It was a disappointment for many when the Ma administration lifted the moratorium on the death penalty when assumed power, which prevented these reforms from running their course and taking effect. Such a shift in policy was enacted mainly to cater to public opinion, which is mostly in support of the death penalty.

Since the moratorium on the death penalty was lifted, 4 inmates were executed in 2010 and 5 inmates were executed in 2011. Based on the reasons for lifting the moratorium on the death penalty, Chang observed that though Taiwanese society decided on this issue democratically, Taiwan’s constitution failed to protect human rights against the tyranny of the majority.

In related news, a forum entitled “Taiwan – where do we go from here?” was held on July 22, 2012 at National Taiwan University Alumni Center, featuring former presidential advisor Wu Li-pei as the keynote speaker. Pro-independence organization representatives filled the venue to maximum capacity. The DPP’s Central Policy Unit Executive Director Joseph Wu also attended this forum on behalf of DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang.

As the Chairman of Formosa Foundation, Wu Li-pei is an expert in foreign affairs and international business. He has been an active figure in the Taiwanese independence movement and enjoys a good working relationship with many US government officials. As someone who knows the minds of US officials, Wu said that Taiwan’s future as an independent country will be an uphill battle because of competition between China and US to dominate international politics and the international economy. Wu said that Taiwan would likely be further marginalized in the future and the current China-leaning Ma administration would also challenge all independence movements.

For this reason, Wu exhorted his listeners to establish a “Depose Ma Alliance” as soon as possible when he spoke on some possible initiatives for the near future. He explained that China is arguably the world’s second superpower when it comes to military and economic strength. Therefore, the KMT and President Ma will not hesitate to cozy up to such a superpower at the expense of Taiwan through China-friendly policies.

Wu also predicted that the KMT would win the presidential election in 2016 through vote-buying and swaying swing voters whose only concern is securing economic gains. He added that the “Taiwan Relations Act” would not serve Taiwan because though it may allow the US to protect Taiwan’s territorial boundaries, it has also discouraged attempts at making Taiwan a de jure sovereign country. In other words, any attempt at changing Taiwan’s current confusing status quo would be deemed an unwelcome problem for the US government.

As for the DPP, Wu said he was disappointed to see the opposition party lose the fighting spirit which it had been known for in its former days. He said that the DPP’s muted response to former President Chen Shui-bian’s trial which was riddled with various infringements on human rights is a sign that the DPP is not confronting the KMT head on anymore. For this reason, the DPP can no longer be trusted with securing Taiwan’s future and a “Depose Ma Alliance” is needed to recover Taiwan from China’s stranglehold.

 


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