"After 10 years of lobbying for Taiwan to become part of the World Health Organization, this is the first year that I've felt genuinely proud to be part of the effort," Taiwan Medical Professional Alliance Chairman Wu Shu-min said yesterday in a joint press conference with the Overseas Compatriots Affairs Commission, urging all Taiwanese living abroad to write petition letters to their local representative for their support on the bid.
Since 1997, he said, Taiwan has subordinated itself by only asking to become an observer in the World Health Assembly as a "health entity" rather than a sovereign nation. The request, as meek as it was, was repeatedly rejected by the health body due to the organization's adhere to the "one-China policy," he added.
"But this year, despite it being the 11th year of trying the push the bid through, I feel more energized and more hopeful than ever because the Taiwanese government has finally agreed to apply for full membership under the name Taiwan, instead hiding the country's sovereignty behind the term "health entity," Wu said.
OCAC Chairwoman Chang Fu-mei (張富美) also applauded the new strategy, saying that throughout the years, many Taiwanese living abroad have joined WHO efforts, but often felt deflated because the Taiwanese government was not strong enough to voice the desire of the people to be a "full member state" in the WHO.
"The new strategy has completely rejuvenated many compatriots' passion to rally up more support for Taiwan's bid from the countries they are living in," Chang said, saying she estimates close to 200 Taiwanese compatriots from the United States and Europe will go to Geneva this May to fight for Taiwan's membership in the upcoming World Health Assembly.
To push the work along, the OCAC has composed a petition letter in five languages. The compatriots, said Chang, can download the letters online and send them to their local government representatives.
Chang said Taiwan's WHO bid has always been a priority for the OCAC and the overseas Taiwanese community has become an integral part of the effort, citing the example of a recent medical forum held in Milan to boost more support for the bid from the Italian government.
In London yesterday at an event sponsored by the Taiwanese academicians based in Britian, Lord Chancellor Charles Faulkner, openly supported Taiwan's WHO bid, said TMPA Secretary-general Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉), adding the event would have not have been possible without the help from the overseas Taiwanese community in the UK.