A multiparty group of six lawmakers headed for Geneva yesterday to lobby for Taiwan's inclusion in the World Health Organization (WHO) this year.
"The country is looking forward to join a scheduled meeting on SARS control at the 56th World Health Assembly," said DPP Legislator Parris Chang (張旭成) at a press conference before his departure for Switzerland.
Chang said the chances for attaining membership is increasing since more and more countries have learned that Taiwan could become a crack in the dam of global prevention and control for epidemics "if it continues to be excluded from the international community."
Aside from Chang, three other DPP lawmakers -- Chien Chao-tong (簡肇棟), Lee Ming-hsien (李明憲) and Chen Mao-nan (陳茂男) made up the legislative delegation along with the TSU's John Wang (王政中) and the KMT's Sun Kauo-hwa (孫國華).
The KMT lawmaker blasted the Chinese government's "shameless lie that it had taken thoughtful care of the island's residents concerning the rampantly spreading epidemic."
"Beijing had ruined its international reputation by concealing the country's real infection situation and by claiming falsely that it is supervising Taiwan's epidemic containment," Sun remarked.
The KMT member stated that his presence demonstrates that the opposition endorses the membership bid.
"We are heading for Geneva to voice a legislative consensus that Taiwan should be allowed to fight against SARS aside other countries of the world," Sun told reporters.
Chien, who is also a doctor, disclosed that intensive dialogue had conducted between Taiwan, the US, Japan and the EU on avenues which Taiwan can follow to be recognized by the WHO. He explained "the quadrilateral talks have looked into a considerable number of ways that Taiwan could join the health body this year."
Chien said the epidemic infection had helped the nation attain definite backing from the Japanese government before the WHA has convened.
This is the first time Japan has given the nod to Taiwan's WHO bid and in the past the US has expressed its support shortly after the WHA met. Now the two major countries have expressed definitive support beforehand.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is endeavoring to get support from the US government and the EU to advance the goal of netting the WHO enrollment this time, Chien said.
Despite receiving the unprecedented Japanese backing, Chien warned that enhanced suppression of Taiwan's activities by Chinese authorities at the assembly is foreseeable.
The Chinese government has instructed its overseas missions to reinforce the "one China" policy to the authorities of their host countries to cut off their endorsement of Taiwan, Chien noted.
"The confrontation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will be furious when the assembly opens on May 19," he predicted.
Noting his regret over the country's failure to achieve membership during the past seven years, Legislator Lee argued that the Chinese government has no basis with which to repress Taiwan's opinion at the international gathering as Beijing's claim of "taking care of the island" merely refers to a 1,000-mask donation by the Xiamen government to the Kinmen county Government.
"Beijing must stop its suppression of the government's endeavors to improve its health care through participating in the international health body," urged DPP Legislator Chang Shiow-jen (張秀珍).