Thu, Jul 19, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Residents end protest to children’s cancer home

SENSE PREVAILS:The former protesters apologized and admitted to responding out of ignorance after hearing the term ‘severe illness’ used in reference to the home

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

The three residents of Jinan Borough (錦安) in Taipei City’s Daan District (大安) who initiated a campaign against a project by Ronald McDonald House Charities Taiwan to create a temporary shelter for children with cancer yesterday apologized, saying they had been “misguided.”

“We deeply apologize to the residents of Jinan Borough and everyone concerned about this issue, for the misunderstandings and trouble we may have caused,” said a statement released by Jinan Borough residents Hsieh Mei-pao (謝美寶), Chen Yi-chun (陳怡君) and Wu Kui-mei (吳桂美) — who launched the campaign vowing to oppose the cancer shelter project with their “lives” and with “bloodshed,” if necessary.

“After clarification from the government and experts, we now fully support the creation of Ronald McDonald House in Jinan Borough,” they said.

“Ignorance was our biggest mistake — we did not know what [Ronald McDonald House] is, but we were concerned by the term ‘severe illness,’ which is why we launched a campaign against it,” the statement added.

Over the weekend, many Jinan Borough residents found flyers posted on entrances to apartment buildings urging them to sign a petition against Ronald McDonald House Charities Taiwan’s plan to create a temporary shelter for children with cancer from outside Taipei, where they could stay while undergoing treatment in the city, saying that such a facility could damage the image of the community and of the country — since the premier’s official residence is also located in the borough.

Although borough chief Kung Chih-hui (龔志慧) said fewer than 100 of the borough’s 6,000 residents signed the petition, the campaign triggered uproar across the country, especially after community leader (鄰長) Chiang Wan-yih (江萬鎰) told reporters “It’s a lie that cancer is not contagious.”

Many other residents in the borough voiced their support for the creation of the cancer shelter through the media or other means.

Chen Hui-ju (陳慧如), a resident, posted flyers in the borough, saying that the opinion of a few did not represent all residents.

“All parents want their children to be healthy, no one wants his or her child to be ill,” the statement said. “Everyone runs into difficulties at some point in life, as with children suffering from illness. Being ill is not so horrible, what’s more horrifying are the unpredictable hearts of people — I am a resident of Jinan Borough; I support the creation of a children’s cancer shelter here.”

After being a target of criticism over the past few days, the borough chief yesterday declined to comment to the media, saying only that she hoped the controversy was now over.

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