Tsai asks aborigines for time to effect reforms

Ms Tsai met aboriginal singer Panai Kusui (left) and other protesters for 30 minutes yesterday. She said her government would implement measures to grant greater autonomy to the indigenous communities.
Ms Tsai met aboriginal singer Panai Kusui (left) and other protesters for 30 minutes yesterday. She said her government would implement measures to grant greater autonomy to the indigenous communities.PHOTO: TAIWAN PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE

President Tsai Ing-wen's apology and promise of reconciliation on Monday to Taiwan's aborigines was meant to assuage their pain.

Instead, it brought to the fore the simmering unhappiness over the injustices that the community has suffered in the 400 years since Chinese immigrants arrived here.

For 40 hours, some 20 aboriginal activists camped out outside the Presidential Office, asking to see the President to register their demand that more be done.

Yesterday afternoon, Ms Tsai met the protesters under the sweltering summer heat for 30 minutes. She had stopped by the protest area on her way back to the Presidential Office from the headquarters of her Democratic Progressive Party.

She was seen patting some of the protesters on their shoulders as they complained that her apology was not good enough to redress the unfair treatment they had suffered.

Ms Tsai, whose paternal grandmother is of Paiwan aboriginal descent, was quoted by media reports as saying: "You will always be in my heart... I am listening to you."

She also asked protesters to be patient and give her government time to implement measures to grant greater autonomy to the indigenous communities, protect their languages and safeguard their land and hunting rights.

She also promised to visit the aboriginal tribes as early as next week.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2016, with the headline 'Tsai asks aborigines for time to effect reforms'. Print Edition | Subscribe