Sabah Legal Delegation and representatives from the HJTJ and the Council of Indigenous Peoples
Sabah Law Society Members Paying Visit to Discuss Indigenous Rights
Center of International Indigenous Affairs （CIIA） has been dedicated to supporting National Dong Hwa University’s （NDHU） internalization since its foundation in the year of 2014. In conformance with the academic goal and spirits of the College of Indigenous Studies （CIS）, CIIA has made a lot of excellent achievements in the field of international exchanges. Along with the academic exchanges and cooperation with experts and researchers from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the USA, Hawaii, Finland, Norway, and so on, CIIA also focuses on the exchanges of experiences of rights from different indigenous peoples over the world. The Director of CIIA, Bavaragh Dagalomai / Jolan Hsieh （謝若蘭）, paid her visit to and had a speech at Sabah Law Society’s Conference in Malaysia earlier this year and got an enthusiastic response. Active interaction with dialogue came after Prof. Hsieh’s speech, the members of Sabah Law Society showed highly interested in indigenous rights in Taiwan. This month, they formed a delegation including four respectful Datuks, judges and lawyers to come to Taiwan with the intention of a further and deeper exchange and discussion of indigenous rights with the aid of CIIA.
The first station that Sabah Law Society paid their visit to was the Presidential Office for Indigenous Transitional Justice policy and legal reform. They had a forum with the members and representatives from the Presidential Office’s Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee （HJTJ） and Councils of Indigenous Peoples （CIP）. Datuk John Sikayun, who is the Chairperson of Native Customary Laws, Customs, and Cultures Subcommittee, introduced Sabah indigenous peoples’ culture and issues related to indigenous rights. Roger Chin Ken Fong, the President of Sabah Law Society, also stressed that they’d love to discuss and exchange with the hope of their law system related to indigenous issues being more complete on both sides of Taiwan and Malaysia because lawyers have the power to influence the law-making.
Yao Chia-wen （姚嘉文） , Senior Advisor to the President Tsai Ing-wen and lawyer, hosted the guests from Malaysia. Yao gave a brief introduction and explanation of how indigenous peoples in Taiwan are in an unfavorable situation including in the aspects of language and cultures when it comes to law. The Deputy Convener of HJTJ, Pasuya Poiconx （Pu, Chung-cheng 浦忠成）, who is also the Dean of CIS, also gave a warm welcome to the guests in the forum and stressed the importance of having more exchanges and discussions because of the similarities we bear between Taiwanese and Malaysian indigenous peoples within the national context of New South-bound Policy. The Deputy Minister of CIP, Iwan Nawi, also mentioned that a public consensus is not reachable within a short period of time, we still need to strive for what we’re heading to. The Convener of Subcommittee on Reconciliation, Jolan Hsieh, said that the current function of indigenous people’s court remains a disadvantaged situation when it comes to dealing with the confrontation and conflicts between national rule of law and indigenous people’s culture and rights. “It’s necessary to set up an independent court for indigenous peoples with full function,” said Prof. Hsieh. She also mentioned that because the ethnic mainstreaming is not yet implemented domestically; therefore, scrutiny and discussion of setting up the independent court are needed. After having the discussion with the deputy commissioner, Obay．Ataw．Hayawan （夏錦龍Hsia Chin-lung） and the convener of Subcommittee on Languages, Masegeseg Z. Gadu （童春發）, mentioned that because of the similarities between Malaysian indigenous peoples and Taiwan indigenous peoples, the experience of international exchanges and learning would create more opportunities, forward step by step, for transitional justice of Indigenous peoples.
The Bachelor Program of Indigenous Law in NDHU was also one of the important visiting sites for Sabah Law Society as well. The delegation specially came to NDHU from Taipei to have a thorough discussion and exchange with the faculty and experts. Datuk John Sikayun, on behalf of the delegation, introduced and explained the system of Native Court in Malaysia to his audience. William Hui-yen Hsu（徐揮彥）, Chairperson of NDHU Graduate Institute of Financial and Economic Law, introduced senior lawyers Lai Chun-liang （賴淳良，former judge of Hualien County Court） and Tang Wen-zhang （湯文章）, the local lawyer to our guests. Prof. Hsu also introduced the current situation of Indigenous law and the legal profession to echo with the lack of talents specializing in the legal profession. The discussion was quite lively and heated from both sides during the meeting.
With the company of local Truku people, the delegation also paid a visit to Taroko National Park to understand more indigenous rights and issues. The site visit aimed to providing depth understanding of how important it is to have personnel training in indigenous law for defending indigenous people’s rights and sovereignty. Besides, the Sabah legal delegation also had a thorough conversation with the CEO, Kacaw Fuyan, from the Indigenous Peoples Cultures Foundation. The delegation showed their admiration and appreciation towards setting up Taiwan Indigenous TV & FM96.3 Alian Radio in order to ensure indigenous rights of access to the media.
Through this visit, a thorough and in-depth discussion and exchange have increased the willingness for further cooperation on indigenous rights bilaterally. Both sides are quite looking forward to the opportunities for research collaboration and fieldwork exchange in the future.
Group photo was taken at the Taiwan Indigenous TV. The third from the left in the first row: Datuk Alexnder Decena, Roger Chin Ken Fong, Datuk Douglas Cristo Primus （former Judge of High Court）, Datuk Martin Mairin Idang （Judge of High Court）, Kacaw Fuyan （CEO of Taiwan Indigenous TV）, and Datuk John Sikayun.
Full Context：National Dong Hwa University