Mon, Dec 13, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Immigrants contributing to the nation's democracy

TRUE CITIZENS Although they hail from different lands, many of Taiwan's naturalized citizens are as interested in the nation's politics as people born here

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

When considering Saturday's legislative elections, many new immigrants have their own interest: that politicians and government officials will care more about immigrants' right to live in the land they now call home.

"I am not going to vote in the legislative elections, even though I could. As a Chinese spouse, I feel like I'm a [political] sacrifice sometimes," Sun Li-xu (孫麗琇) said.

Sun moved here in 1996 after marrying her Taiwanese husband and became a naturalized citizen two years ago.

Although she is indifferent to Taiwanese politics, Sun did vote in the 2002 Taipei mayoral elections.

Her speedy naturalization is rare among Chinese spouses. Sun felt that Chinese spouses receive unfair treatment compared to Southeast Asian spouses in terms of immigration procedures.

"Chinese spouses have to wait for eight years or longer on average to receive their national ID cards, but it takes Southeast Asian spouses about half that time," Sun said.

Sun also said that she understood the government's efforts to crack down on bogus cross-strait marriages, but this should not be used as an excuse to deprive legitimate Chinese spouses of their right to receive their national ID cards.

Mo Chun-lan (莫純蘭), a spouse from Guangdong Province who has been in Taiwan for nine years, recently submitted her national ID application.

"I just turned the application in last month and the application is pending, which means I definitely cannot vote [in Saturday's elections]. If I had the right to vote, I would vote for a candidate who was truly concerned about the rights of foreign spouses, regardless of the political party," Mo said.

Mo also shared Sun's sentiment that Chinese spouses receive unfair treatment from the government.

Since the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) proposed an amendment to the law governing the naturalization of Chinese immigrants, Mo considers the TSU unfriendly to Chinese spouses.

Mo also noted that elections here were more competitive than the regional elections that take place in China, where election campaigning was almost nonexistent.

Nene Ho, originally from the Philippines and the founder of the Filipino Married to Taiwan Association, became a Taiwanese citizen 10 years ago and has voted in numerous elections.

"[Saturday] I am voting for Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] candidate Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛) because she has been a long-term advocate for women's rights," she said.

Ho's husband was a strong KMT supporter.

Ho was more than just a supporter of Pan -- she volunteered to campaign for the candidate she voted for.

In her opinion, Ho felt elections here were much "cleaner" in Taiwan than in the Philippines.

"The day after elections, campaign posters and banners are always cleared off the streets right away. However, in the Philippines, no one bothers to do so. Also, I feel there is less corruption in elections here," Ho said.

Su Ko-ya (蘇科雅), a Cambodian woman who has lived in Meinung, Kaohsiung County for six years, received her national ID card on July 7.

According to the Public Officials Election and Recall Law (公職人員選罷法), a person only has the right to vote after at least four months' residency in her constituency. This means that Su was eligible to vote. But, Su, not being interested in politics, was not inclined to vote in the election.

However, Su Ying (蘇英), an Indonesian spouse of Chinese ancestry who is also a member of the Nanyang Sister Association (南洋姐妹會), an advocacy group for Southeast Asian women in Meinung, claimed to be a faithful supporter of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his political party.

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