Sun, Jan 09, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan helps US Buddhists ship aid

COOPERATION The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York worked with a US congressman to help a Buddhist group send supplies to tsunami-affected areas


As a result of the coordination of a Taiwanese official in New York and a US congressman, Taiwan's shipping company, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp, shipped the first of three containers of relief materials and supplies collected by a Buddhist temple in Queens, New York to Sri Lanka free of charge.

Andrew Hsia (夏立言), director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, Congressman Gary Ackerman, as well as officials from the borough of Queens and Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp attended the donation and shipping ceremony of the relief supplies with volunteers, who donated clothes, food rations, drinking water, pharmaceuticals, batteries, toys and stationaries.

Hsia said that he received a call from Ackerman's office two days ago, saying that New York Buddhist Vihara, a Buddhist temple in Queens presided over by a Sri Lankan, received a great number of donated materials, but had no money to transport them, and asked for assistance.

After contacting Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp, the shipping company agreed to transport the supplies free of charge, Hsia said.

He also said that although Taiwan is not a member of the UN, it is still a member of the international community, and that Taipei has donated US$50 million worth of tsunami-relief in Southeast Asia, and the private sector is also responding actively to the donation drive. Donation drives will also continue among Taiwanese expatriates in the US, he said.

The tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia has brought out the best in the people of Taiwan, with various fundraising events held around the country yesterday to collect aid for the victims.

Taiwan's Red Cross held a charity concert in Taipei yesterday from 7pm to 10pm. The concert, sponsored by the Dong Fong television station, will feature many famous musicians and well-known TV show hosts.

In Chiayi, a charity bazaar was held Friday by World Vision in Taiwan to raise money for tsunami victims. Twenty-eight businesses donated their products to the bazaar.

An event organizer said International World Vision hopes to raise US$50 million for the tsunami victims, and the branch's share is NT$100 million (US$3.12 million).

In Taichung City, a group of junior high school students sang at a restaurant to raise funds for the tsunami victims.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Interior cautioned the public to be on the lookout for scam artists posing as volunteers and collecting money.

According to the ministry, only 18 private organizations have said that they will raise funds for the disaster zones in Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) will send a team to tsunami-hit areas in Indonesia today to help fend against the spread of disease.

Environment Minister Chang Juu-en (張祖恩) said Yuan Shao-ying (袁紹英), vice director-general of the EPA's Department of Environmental Sanitation and Toxic Substance Management will lead a three-member team and bring disinfection equipment and pesticides.

The team will show volunteers and residents in Indonesia how to disinfect the environment.

They will also donate 200 units of disinfectant. The EPA is also planning additional assistance of NT$30 million (US$937,500) to provide sprayers, pesticides, disinfectants and other protective gear as needed, the environment minister said.

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