Mon, Feb 04, 2002 - Page 8 News List

Love for the country has to be more appreciated

By Jan Shou-jung 詹守忠

Bjarne Gislefoss (徐賓諾), former superintendent of the Puli Christian Hospital, his wife Alfhild Gislefoss (紀歐惠) and Doris Brougham (彭蒙惠), founder of the English magazine Studio Classroom (空中英語教室), have dedicated themselves to Taiwan for over 40 years. They are more Taiwanese than some Taiwanese people, but they cannot obtain permanent residency visas under current regulations.

Only through parades and petitions are they able to attract the government's attention. No wonder the media has raised doubts that the threshold for loving Taiwan enough to become permanent residents is too high.

Whenever the Medical Dedication Award (醫療奉獻獎) is presented, foreign missionaries and nuns are always seen on the list with their stories of unselfish lifelong dedication to Taiwan and its people. Davide Luigi Giordan (何義士), Italian superintendent of the Hwey Min Hospital in Penghu, was awarded the prize three times. Hungarian priest Istvan Jaschko (葉由根) established a center for the mentally retarded in Guanhsi and Samuel Noordhoff (羅慧夫), founder of the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation (財團法人羅慧夫顱顏基金會), has devoted his life to boosting the quality of Taiwan's medical care.

The list still goes on -- Sister Lena Bomans (趙懷仁) from Belgium, who serves at the Yung Ho branch of the Cardinal Tien Hospital, established the first foundation for premature infants in Taiwan, enabling numerous prematurely delivered babies to survive. Italian nun Maristella Piergianni (裴嘉妮) is a guardian angel for mentally impaired children. Joy Randall (籃瑪烈) from Canada has dedicated her life to the nursing department in the Changhua Christian Hospital. David Landsborough (蘭大衛), founder of the Changhua Christian Hospital, has also impressed the public with his unselfish dedication.

Our society receives the selfless love and devotion of these people, but our bureaucratic system continues to strictly calculate the number of days they are present in Taiwan each year -- not because Taiwanese people are ruthless or ignorant of repaying their favors, but because the bureaucratic system is much too rigid. This proves how bureaucracy can kill people.

After several lawmakers addressed appeals from foreigners who had contributed to society in Taiwan, the government finally paid attention to the issue with a conclusion that lawmakers can propose amendments to Article 23 of the Immigration Law (入出國及移民法) to relax the requirements for permanent residency. Amending laws based on individual cases highlights deficiencies in the law, as well as Taiwan's discrimination against the very foreigners to whom the people are most grateful.

Amending the Immigration Law may resolve pressing needs for Gislefoss and Brougham, but similar situations are still likely to occur in the future and we might have to once again confront the dilemma of amending the law.

To commend these foreigners' sacrifices and love of Taiwan while shrewdly calculating the number of days they stay in Taiwan annually, only reveals Taiwan's stingy attitude and the way its bureaucracy operates. The government should grant these individuals ROC citizenship as special cases without the need to amend laws, fulfilling their wishes to spend the rest of their lives in Taiwan.

This will not only clearly show the gratitude of the Taiwanese people, but also make the world understand that loving Taiwan is restriction-free.

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