Thu, Jul 31, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Legislator raises alarm about mass of missing persons

CNA , TAIPEI

A PFP legislator yesterday drew attention to what he said was the growing problem of missing persons, who numbered more than 200,000 over the past seven years.

At a press conference that included National Police Administration officials and the parents of missing teenagers, PFP Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) said that people aged 12 to 17 were most likely to be reported missing.

Using police figures, Lu said the number of missing people had increased every year since 1997, when the number stood at more than 29,900.

He said that the more than 200,000 people were reported missing between 1997 and last month translated into more than 200,000 broken families, although he conceded that 40 percent of the missing were found within a month.

He said the majority of those reported missing people had run away from home voluntarily.

Those aged between 12 and 17 accounted for 37.8 percent, or 13,700, of the missing people reported last year, Lu said, with 2.33 girls reported missing for every one boy.

Huang Kuo-pin, an NPA official in charge of household affairs, painted a slightly less bleak picture.

He said 365,000 people had been reported missing since the police began keeping statistics on the subject, although he did not say when that was.

Of these, about 14,000 were still unaccounted for, he said.

Huang said that the police wanted to serve the people by helping to find the missing persons, but he urged parents to pay more attention to their children. The trend can only be reversed through the efforts of families and society together, he said.

The parents of one missing teenager, Chou Chao-wei (周兆威), yesterday appealed for help in finding their son. Chou's mother, Wang Hsiu-ping (王秀萍), knelt before the press in tears, saying that her heart would never be consoled until her son is found.

Chou's father, Chou Han-chang (周漢章), said that his son went for a bicycle ride on July 1 last year around the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park where the family lives and has not been heard from since.

The family has posted notices around the neighborhood and driven all around town to solicit companies on the Internet for help, but all to no avail.

Chou Han-chang said that it seemed as if his son had disappeared off the face of the Earth.

The parents said their son has one big mole and one small mole on his nose, as well as a scar on the front and back of his head, making him easy to identify.

Anybody with information on his whereabouts are requested to contact the police without delay.

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