Sun, Jul 13, 2008 - Page 2 News List

NIA rules on KMT descendants

NOMADSThe offspring of these soldiers do not enjoy legal status in their respective countries, while the Taiwanese government also does not consider them to be citizens

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The descendants of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) troops left behind in Myanmar and Thailand can apply for an overseas compatriot permit starting next week, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) said yesterday.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, students from Thailand and Myanmar who were recruited by the Overseas Compatriots Affairs Commission (OCAC) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) between May 20, 1999, and Dec. 26 last year to study in Taiwan will be allowed to go to the Jhonghe City Hall in Taipei County to apply for a one-year permit that would enable them to have legal status while in Taiwan, NIA Spokesman Steve Wu (吳學燕) said.

“We are all extremely happy and moved by the decision. The government has finally heard our voice. It proves that all these struggles were not in vain,” said Lee Mei-ping (李美萍), referring to the 400-strong protest in front of the Legislative Yuan last week.

Lee is one of the thousands of students recruited in the last few years from Chinese refugee communities in Myanmar and Thailand.

She said they were all told the same story — just come to Taiwan by using whatever means you can and the government will take care of you.

Following their “Taiwanese dream,” many students and their families went into debt to obtain counterfeit passports.

“But by the time we got here, we had become criminals,” Lee said.

These students and their families back home are often dubbed as the “orphans of the international community” because they have not been recognized as citizens by any government.

Their parents fought for the KMT during the Chinese Civil War more than 60 years ago, but when Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) retreated to Taiwan, he ordered these forces to stay behind on the border of Myanmar and Thailand in case the KMT had a chance to turn the tide.

Chiang and the KMT never honored their promises and the soldiers were forced to stay in countries where they were not welcome.

Until now, the offspring of these soldiers do not enjoy legal status in their respective countries and the Taiwanese government also does not view them as citizens.

Lee said an estimate of 380 students will apply for the permit on Tuesday and 400 more will do so the following day.

The relaxed policy requires all those who entered Taiwan through illegal means to turn themselves in before they can obtain a temporary permit.

NIA said the permit is only good for one year and it does not allow the holders to sign up for the national health insurance plan.

The agency, however, vowed to push through an amendment in the next legislative session to address the welfare of these students.

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