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Ma kicks off Austronesian conference in Formosan languages

Posted on 30 October 2015 by admin

Publication Date : 30-10-2015


President Ma Ying-jeou presided over the 13th 2015 International Austronesian Conference (IAC) Thursday, sharing his enthusiasm at seeing the meeting raising awareness of international aboriginal communities in the two-day event.

Greeting representatives from at least 30 countries in Taiwan’s 15 existing Formosan languages, Ma stated that the conference would cover discourses and analyses of territorial governance and cultural heritage, among other topics, which are all pressing issues, both in domestic and international indigenous communities.

â€�I hope the two-day conference will provide recognition and assistance for passing aboriginal bills still undergoing examination before the Cabinet and the Legislative Yuan,” Ma said. He added that indigenous cultures create diversity and raise competitiveness for a nation.

Bringing up Taiwan’s free-trade agreement with New Zealand in 2013, Ma stated that the pact was the first of its kind in Taiwan’s history of trade agreements, because it covered cultural connections and media cooperation between both Taiwan’s indigenous peoples and New Zealand���s Maori.

In September, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Taiwan Indigenous TV and New Zealand’s Maori TV was also signed, Ma said. The MOU aims to strengthen ties and promotes exchanges in television.

Ma said that in February, the strength of the trade pact with New Zealand was shown by a Maori and Taiwan aboriginal collaborative performance at the Taipei International Book Exhibition.

Also speaking at the event was Mayaw Dongi , minister of the Cabinet-level Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP), who said that panel discussions at the past 12 conferences saw experts and scholars from at least 30 countries in attendance, and they resulted in over 130 dissertations on aboriginal topics and issues being published.

“In past years, we have collected and processed these dissertations to inform the development of policies beneficial to our aboriginal cause,” Mayaw said.

Mayaw also thanked the conference, saying it had contributed to progress in the development of aboriginal policies in Taiwan.

On this year’s theme, — territorial governance and cultural heritage — Mayaw stated that in recent years, society and land have undergone turbulent changes — whether man-made or natural.

“As a part of the Austronesian society – especially in the way Taiwan is considered one of the origins of the Austronesian people and even the cradle of the culture — it is impossible not to address the responsibility to preserve the Austronesian territory and its culture,” Mayaw said.

The IAC has been held since 2003, inviting researchers to discuss important issues, including regional social development, the inheritance of knowledge and education.

The agenda for the first day of the conference will mainly include keynote speeches on territorial governance, with Robert Wesley Heber, professor emeritus at the University of Regina and the First Nations University of Canada covering the country’s Metis mixed-race aboriginals; Michael Lujan Bevacqua, assistant professor of Chamorro Studies at the University of Guam, will discuss the role of the Festival of Pacific Arts in Chamorro efforts to revitalise their culture.


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