A plan by Ronald McDonald House Charities Taiwan to create temporary housing for children undergoing cancer treatment in Taipei has triggered a controversy with some local residents voicing opposition to the project, saying it could “damage the image of the country” and have vowed to resist the plan with “lives” and “bloodshed.”
Several residents of Jinan Borough (錦安) in Taipei’s Daan District (大安) recently discovered flyers protesting against a plan to create a temporary shelter for children with cancer from outside Taipei undergoing treatment in the city.
The flyers, posted by unidentified individuals who claim to represent all residents of the borough, says that “even if it takes bloodshed,” all residents of the borough “would resist to the end, and oppose it with our lives.”
The flyer goes on to say that, with narrow streets in the borough and without major medical facilities nearby, the borough is not the best location for a shelter for people with cancer.
It also says that since the official residence of the premier is in the borough, senior officials from within the country or abroad often visited the area and thus “a shelter facility for cancer patients may damage the image of the country” and the rights of local residents.
However, most of the borough’s residents who spoke with the Taipei Times were positive about the shelter facility.
“There’s nothing bad about the facility to house children with cancer — cancer is not a contagious disease,” a man surnamed Tseng (曾) who lives in the borough and runs a small shop there said. “I don’t think it would damage the image of the country or the community; rather, I think such a charity facility is a plus for the image of our community.”
A graduate student surnamed Chen (陳) said she had no problem about having such a facility in the neighborhood, and questioned the motivation of those who posted the flyer.
“I suspect this is a trick to try to get some compensation,” she said.
Another woman who lives in an apartment building with the protest flyer posted on the entrance, said she had no opinion about the issue.
“I’ve heard about it, but I don’t have any particular thoughts on it,” she said. “[Whether the facility is created in the borough] makes no difference to me.”
Jinan Borough Chief Kung Li-hui (龔立慧) said that there were about 6,000 people living in the borough, “and there are only about 100 people opposed to it.”
“Some people are opposed to it, because they are worried that the diseases may be contagious,” Kung said. “I’d also guess that there are people who are worried that such a facility may bring down property values.”
Responding to the opposition, Ronald McDonald House Charities Taiwan spokeswoman Mandy Lee (李雅惠) said that the Ronald McDonald House to be created in Jinan Borough — the second such facility in Taiwan — aims to serve as “home away from home” for children from outside Taipei who are undergoing treatment for cancer or other serious diseases so that they do not have to spend extra money on lodging.
“We’ve held two presentations on the facility for Jinan Borough residents,” Lee said. “We will continue to speak to our future neighbors to clear their doubts.”