Sun, Dec 01, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Chen attempts to mobilize youth for NGO assault

CALL The president's speech at the opening of a seminar was criticized by some for bringing non-political groups too close to the public sector

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation's youth should be encouraged to join non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to engage in humanitarian aid on a global scale, said President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday.

"In addition to donating materials and taking part in humanitarian relief work, we should aim to educate a new generation of volunteers and encourage more young people to join humanitarian organizations," Chen said.

The president was speaking at the opening ceremony of a conference entitled "With love from Taiwan: A seminar and exhibition on the humanitarian work of Taiwan's NGOs."

"According to statistics, more than 30 humanitarian relief organizations have given assistance in over 50 countries," Chen said.

"More than NT$1 billion worth of relief material and medical supplies are donated annually," he added.

Stressing his respect for NGOs in Taiwan devoted to humanitarian aid at home and abroad, Chen said the seminar could serve as a starting point toward enhanced cooperation between the government and NGOs.

However, some participants at the conference said government support for local NGOs may backfire, adding that NGOs should aim to keep themselves at a distance from the public sector.

"Too much political intervention in operations as well as overt use of NGOs to expand Taiwan's diplomatic space may trigger unnecessary misgivings," said Wang Po-wei (王博偉), deputy director-general of the ROC chapter of the International Rotary Club.

Wang Chin-ying (王金英), administrator of the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation (NCF) said that although aid can boost the country's visibility, humanitarian concerns should take priority over political considerations.

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