Mon, May 05, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Dutch lawmaker supports local WHO bid

CNA , PARIS

Before a meeting organized by a local democracy group in Paris, Dutch Member of Parliament Hans Van Baalen called on the EU Saturday to throw its support behind Taiwan's membership bid in the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO), saying that the people of Taiwan should not be deprived of their right to the services it provides.

Baalen, of the Liberal Party, made the appeal while speaking at a meeting of the Global Alliance for Democracy and Peace (GADP) branch in the Netherlands. The GADP was created in Taipei under the auspices of the Cabinet-level Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission to promote freedom, democracy, human rights and peace.

With its high level of medical care, Taiwan has provided international medical assistance over the years, while private charity organizations have also given humanitarian aid to other countries, Baalen told over 120 representatives from the Chinese community present at the meeting.

Taiwan, one of the founding members of the WHO, lost its seat in the international health body after it was forced out of the UN in 1971.

Baalen said that Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO not only deprives the country's 23 million people of their basic human rights but also constitutes a loophole in the global battle against epidemics.

Citing the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) as an example, Baalen said that the WHO has not yet extended a helping hand to Taiwan in its battle against the potentially deadly flu-like disease.

Hailing the EU and the US for their support for Taiwan's accession to the WHO as an observer, the Baalen noted that Taiwan's bid for observer status in the WHO has nothing to do with politics, and so should not be rejected for political reasons.

Baalen further said that he will join hands with his colleagues in the parliament to push for the Dutch government and other EU member states to help promote Taiwan's participation in the WHO.

Speaking on the same occasion, Taiwan Representative to the Netherlands Katherine Chang (張小月) said that Taiwan's efforts to gain WHO membership are aimed at protecting the basic human rights of the country's people and that the Taiwan government will do everything possible to reach this goal.

She called on the Chinese community in Holland to use their influence and to work with the Taiwan representative office to push the country's WHO bid.

Following the meeting, all the members of the GADP branch signed a letter addressed to the WHO secretary-general urging the international health body to grant a seat to Taiwan.

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