(TibetanReview.net, Jun22, 2016) – The cabinet-level Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC) of the government of Taiwan, which has for long, until the early 1990s, been accused of bankrolling disgruntled groups and elements in the Tibetan exile community to create discord within it, now appears set to be dissolved or merged with another government department. The commission began losing its relevance and importance after President Lee Teng-hui steered Taiwan towards democracy and invited Tibet’s then exiled temporal and spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to the country.
Answering questions while presenting her first report to the Legislative Yuan since assuming office, as she fielded questions from lawmakers on the controversial issue of whether the commission she heads should be dissolved or its duties merged into other ministries, Minister without Portfolio Lin Mei-chu has said it should preferably be merged with another government department.
“Moving toward dissolving [the commission] or merging [with other agencies] is in line with the government’s policy directions, so we are not against it,” taipeitimes.com Jun 21 quoted her as saying.
The report quoted Lin as saying: “After so many years of discussion, there is already a certain consensus among political parties, and that is frankly speaking, with the current powers, functions and organization of the commission, it lacks resources to become a ministry on its own.”
People First Party Legislator Chen Yi-chieh was cited as saying public opinion favoured dissolution of the commission.
However, Lin has said whether the commission was dissolved or merged, the government must continue to handle Mongolian and Tibetan affairs, including academic, cultural, economic and professional personnel issues.
One agency that has been suggested in the past is the Mainland Affairs Council, which handles Taiwan’s relationship with China, reported focustaiwan.tw Jun 20. Lin has said more discussion was needed.
Originally a bureau under the interior ministry, the MTAC was elevated to its current level in 1928 – when the Republic of China (ROC) government still ruled mainland China – to deal with Mongolian and Tibetan affairs. Unlike provinces dominated by a mostly Han population, Mongolia and Tibet are both designated a “region” under the ROC Constitution, the report noted.
Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was reported to have argued that it was “no longer necessary” to have a commission to deal with matters relating to Mongolians and Tibetans since Mongolia was now an independent country while Tibet was seeking to gain similar status.
The report said the MTAC was discussed Jun 20 in a hearing of the Legislature’s Internal Affairs Committee, which was held on the one-month anniversary of the new DPP government.