Wed, Jan 26, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Controversial visit of PRC philanthropist approved

KINDNESS?Billionaire tycoon Chen Guangbiao sparked controversy before his arrival with his plan to personally distribute millions of dollars to impoverished Taiwanese

By Ko Shu-ling  /  Staff Reporter

The National Immigration Agency (NIA) yesterday said it would approve the visit of a billionaire Chinese philanthropist who plans to hand out millions of NT dollars to some of the nation’s poorest families ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.

NIA Deputy Director-General Ho Jung-tsun (何榮村) said Chen Guangbiao (陳光標) and his 47-member delegation would arrive today for a six-day visit. Since their trip was business-related, they will not have any problem staying as long as they stick to the itinerary they proposed, Ho said.

Ho said Chen planned to donate money in Hsinchu, Nantou and Hualien counties, something his agency was happy to see.

The NIA held a meeting yesterday to discuss Chen’s plan after media reports said Chen -intended to make the donations in a high-profile spectacle, Ho said.

He said Chen should read the reports while he is here and consider donating his money through charity organizations.

The United Daily News on Monday reported that Chen has prepared about 50,000 red -envelopes embossed with the inscription “The day is cold, the ground freezing, but the people’s hearts are warm. The Chinese race is one family and a fire in the winter (中華民族一家親,冬天裡的一把火).”

The Taoyuan County Government has said it would not allow Chen to hand out money there.

New Taipei City (新北市) said on Monday that it will allow the donations if Chen accepts the assistance of a city councilor and a public service center. A report by United Daily News yesterday said the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) had tried to block Chen from entering the country.

However, MAC Minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) dismissed the headline as “wrong,” saying the government would not prevent any individual from doing good deeds.

Amid reports that Chen would bring a group of reporters with him and ask recipients to bow and thank him, Lai said the way the money is given out should be appropriate and the dignity of the recipients must be factored in.

MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said the council was not involved in the review of Chen’s visa application, which fell under the jurisdiction of the immigration agency.

Liu said the council did contact the agency at one point, but only to obtain Chen’s original itinerary after hearing of his plans from media reports. He denied the council had tried to obstruct Chen’s visit.

This week’s trip would be Chen’s fourth visit to Taiwan, Liu said, adding that the purpose of his visit was business. The immigration agency had re-examined Chen’s plans after realizing his original itinerary was inconsistent with media reports.

The council respected the agency’s decision to review Chen’s application and would respect its final decision, Liu said.

Liu also urged Chen to consider making his donations through charities so it would be handled correctly and be well received by the public.

Asked to comment on Chen’s visit, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said people who wish to do good deeds should take into consideration the recipients’ feelings about how donations are given out.

“It is still more appropriate [to give donations] through civilian groups,” said Hau, who served briefly as secretary-general of the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China.

Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) said she welcomed anyone who wanted to do good deeds and help the disadvantaged, but the process should respect recipients’ feelings.

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