Fri, May 19, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Su to appoint new minister for foreign spouse concerns

CNA , TAIPEI

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said he would designate a minister-without-portfolio to address issues involving foreign spouses of Taiwanese by pooling public and private sector resources.

Su made the promise on Wednesday while paying a visit to Buddhist Master Sheng Yen (聖嚴法師), founder of the Taipei-based Dharma Drum Mountain Culture and Education Foundation, which has branches around the globe.

During their talks, Sheng Yen expressed concern about problems faced by foreign spouses in Taiwan and the country's rising suicide rate.

Su said he shared Sheng Yen's views and would tackle the issues with greater effort as foreign spouses had come to play an increasingly important role in this country.

Quoting official tallies, Su said the nation's demographic structure had undergone significant changes in recent years, with one out of every five newlywed couples involving a foreign spouse and one out of every 6.5 babies born to foreign mothers.

The influx of foreign spouses had given rise to many complex problems which could not be addressed by a single ministry or government agency, Su said.

"Problems faced by foreign spouses include language, social customs, culture, identity, sense of participation and education of the younger generation," the premier said.

"In many cases, the government alone cannot resolve all these problems and it requires the assistance of private civic groups," he said.

Coordination was very important in seeking solutions to problems experienced by foreign spouses, he said. To improve operational efficiency, Su said he would name a minister-without-portfolio to take charge of inter-departmental coordination and work out a comprehensive package of measures, deal with relevant problems and outline concrete policy goals.

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