President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday announced the launch of the Mackay Program, which will provide discounts to foreign residents who have made a special contribution to Taiwan as a way of paying tribute for their long-term efforts.
The program, named after Dr George Leslie Mackay, who founded the Mackay Memorial Hospital, will provide 50 percent discounts for the MRT and other public transportation fares for foreign residents aged 65 or over, have lived in Taiwan for at least 20 years and have made special contributions to the nation.
According to the Ministry of Interior, foreign residents who have made contributions in various fields, including culture, religion and education, can apply for the program.
About 150 public recreation facilities and scenic areas, including the National Palace Museum, the National Museum of History and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, will offer free entrance or a 50 percent discount on tickets to candidates.
“I met with some ministers and priests living in Taitung and they talked about how they were not entitled to social welfare benefits given to senior citizens in Taiwan. Therefore, we decided to launch this program for them,” Ma said when meeting with medical staff at Mackay Memorial Hospital.
Information from the ministry showed there are about 580 foreign preachers in Taiwan.
Ma also took the opportunity to laud Mackay for his lifelong dedication to the nation and said he hoped that the program helped to express the nation’s gratitude to foreigners who have made Taiwan their second home.
Mackay came to Taiwan in 1872 as a medical missionary and founded the Mackay Clinic in Tamshui in 1880, which was the first Western hospital in the northern part of Taiwan.
The ministry said the program will formally start on June 1 and the full list of destinations that will be offering special discounts can be found on its official Web site.