'Always Campaign Time:' Why Taiwan's Indigenous People Back KMT

1/13/2020

Wulai Rahou, Taiwan  In Wulai Rahou, a small community 90 minutes' drive outside Taiwan's capital, the campaign for Saturday's election is in full swing and banners advertising half a dozen different candidates dot the hilly road.

Many of the candidates are dressed in the colourful clothing associated with the island’s 16 recognised Austronesian-speaking indigenous groups.

But while support for incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progress Party (DPP) is growing  she, herself, is part indigenous  village mayor, Yawi Aban, a member of the Atayal people, says many residents continue to lean towards the Kuomintang (KMT) and her rival in the same party, Han Kuo-yu. 

Taiwan’s indigenous people  about 2 percent of the population  have long been considered an "iron vote" for the KMT and that is expected to continue despite Tsai's efforts to improve indigenous people's lives and atone for past injustices. 

Shortly after her election in 2016, Tsai became the first president of Taiwan to apologise to indigenous people for crimes committed against them since the island was first colonised 400 years ago.

Tsai also established the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee to promote indigenous culture and boost livelihoods, earning her much praise overseas but less so at home.

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Aljazeera