Taiwan stands a good chance of becoming an observer at the World Health Assembly (WHA) during its annual meeting in Geneva that opens May 19 because the SARS outbreak highlights the need for the nation to join the World Health Organization (WHO), said Chen Lung-chu (
Addressing a campaign rally in Taipei yesterday, Chen said, "The outbreak of SARS shows that Taiwan is in urgent need of assistance from the WHO. Therefore, Taiwan should grab the momentum to push for a bid to join the world health body."
"The world is also bound by a moral responsibility to build a more comprehensive, global public-health network by allowing for Taiwan's inclusion in the WHO," Chen said.
Chen, who is also an advisor to the president and the chairman of Taiwan New Century Foundation, said the SARS epidemic has not only made Taiwan suffer the virus's invasion from China, but also revealed the evasiveness and ignorance of the Beijing authorities after they delayed the sending of WHO officials to Taiwan.
Chen said that though SARS had seriously impacted daily life in the country, it is also an opportunity for Taiwan to take a more active role in international organizations.
"I have found a new acronym for SARS: solidarity, ability, responsibility and security. Those are the four attitudes that Taiwanese should hold on to to help them stay focused in the fight against SARS," Chen said.
About 500 people gathered on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office demanding that all Taiwanese realize the importance of rectifying the name of the country and fulfilling the legacy that Taiwan and China are "one country on either side" of the Taiwan Strait.
The rally, originally planned to be a 100,000-strong march, was scaled down because of the SARS outbreak. The march will now be held on Sep. 6 before the UN General Assembly reconvenes on Sep. 8.
Declaring yesterday that it expects this year to achieve its goal of officially changing the name of the country to Taiwan, the alliance also urged the government to apply for UN membership under the name of Taiwan, and requested the president-elect in next year draft a new Constitution that proclaims "the Nation of Taiwan."
Peter Wang (王獻極), general coordinator of the alliance warned yesterday that the fight to rectify the name of the country will be long, but can only be won by getting the people to voice their concerns to the government.
Saying that social movements in the past were instrumental in Taiwan's political reform and economic progress, Wang said many changes were prompted by the solidarity of the people's will and power, leading to the lifting of martial law in 1987, the comprehensive re-election of the legislators in 1992 and the first direct election of the president in 1996.
"Next year, we plan to summon about 500,000 people to join in the campaign," Wang said. "By uniting so many people together to express the demand to rectify Taiwan's name, I believe the government would have to do something to respond to our calls."