Sat, Aug 02, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Help men in disputes with foreign brides: lawmaker

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A KMT lawmaker has urged the government to do more to help Taiwanese nationals cope with problems stemming from cross-cultural marriages.

"The government cannot neglect its responsibility to help nationals solve matrimonial problems with their foreign spouses by using the lack of diplomatic ties as an excuse," Legislator Shyu Jong-shyong (徐中雄) said yesterday.

Shyu made the remark after receiving a Taoyuan county man surnamed Gu. Gu said that he had married a Cambodian woman four years ago. But after visiting with her relatives in Cambodia three months ago, his wife had refused to come back to Taiwan.

Gu's two children, who accompanied their mother on her annual visit to Cambodia in April, remained with her in the Southeast Asian country.

Since then, Gu and his parents have been to Cambodia several times to try and persuade Gu's wife to come to Taiwan with the couple's children. According to Gu, his wife turned down their pleas and also refused to let the children meet with their Taiwanese grandparents.

"Gu's case is not a an isolated incident. I believe that a number of Taiwanese nationals could face such challenges, since a quarter of Taiwanese men married last year took foreign women as wives," Shyu said.

Shyu disclosed Gu's predicament two days after a demographics paper released by the Directorate General of Budget Accounting and Statistics indicated that one in four Taiwanese men married last year took non-Taiwanese women as wives. Of those 44,843 foreign brides, 27,767 of them were Chinese citizens from China, Hong Kong and Macao, the paper stated.

The numerous non-Taiwanese spouses, including at least 300,000 still residing in this country, should move the government to set up an official body to handle such international matrimonial disputes, Shyu urged.

Government agencies, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, should offer assistance to nationals when they are confronting domestic disputes with their overseas spouses, Shyu said.

"In Gu's case, the family could face financial and legal challenges if they have to take this dispute to court in Cambodia to try and win custody of the two children," Shyu said.

Responding to Shyu's call, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Richard Shih (石瑞琦) promised that his ministry would give the utmost administrative assistance to nationals engaging in legal proceedings abroad.

"Our diplomatic personnel in the host country will make every effort to help nationals overcome difficulties such as finding qualified lawyers or providing consultations for the host country's legal system," Shih said.

But, Shih said, it would be beyond the government's jurisdiction to intervene in domestic disputes such as the one between Gu and his Cambodian wife and the government could not use political channels to formally demand the return of Gu's two children.

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