Young UN envoy to quit over naming controversy

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 - Page 1

Chang Liang-yi (張良伊), the first young Taiwanese to be elected as a representative to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), yesterday said he would resign from his post if he did not receive a positive response over the controversial listing of his nationality in the organization.

The founding president of the Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition (TWYCC), Chang, 24, was elected as a focal point for UNFCCC youth non-governmental organizations during the 18th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP18) held in Doha, Qatar, from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7.

As the focal point representing developing countries in YOUNGO — the official youth constituency of the UNFCCC — Chang will be in charge of communicating with the secretariat of the UNFCCC and attend UN activities concerning climate change on behalf of young people next year.

However, the nationality printed on his candidate registration form — “Taiwan (Province of China)” — has stirred up debate in Taiwan, with government officials calling it “regretful” and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs canceling subsidies it gave Chang to attend the meeting.

Chang denied at a press conference last week that he signed up as a candidate from “Taiwan (Province of China),” saying it was changed without his consent.

Late last night, he issued a statement saying he would resign as a focal point if YOUNGO would not change his nationality to “Taiwan (Republic of China)” on official documents by Jan. 15 — the day he is scheduled to officially take over the post.

“I apologize for the misunderstanding that it may have caused since I was not able to have YOUNGO change the candidate information on the ballot,” Chang said in the statement. “I will resign as the focal point for the year 2013, if I am still unable to have YOUNGO change my nationality to ‘Taiwan (Republic of China)’ by Jan. 15, 2013, which is the official swear-in day for the new focal point.”

In the statement, he said that on the registration form for candidacy, he filled in only “Taiwan” in the space left for nationality.

“I only found out that the words ‘province of China’ had been added in when I delivered a speech at noon on Dec. 1, and I immediately sent three e-mails to the organizer in protest,” Chang said. “However, my request was denied because the organizer would not change candidates’ information that had already been made public.”

“Nevertheless, I continued to make phone calls to the contact person, asking for a change until the voting was over at 8pm on Dec. 3, Doha time,” Chang said. “Rumors that I willingly allowed ‘province of China’ to be added after ‘Taiwan’ are not true.”

In addition, Chang said he would resign as TWYCC president to prevent further misunderstandings and criticism of the group by society.