Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) officials yesterday reiterated that they were optimistic that Taiwan would receive an invitation to attend the World Health Assembly (WHA) this year, although they said there was a backup plan in case an invitation was not forthcoming.
On the sidelines of a morning meeting of the legislature’s Health and Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達) said that many of Taiwan’s allies, including the US, are helping secure an invitation to the WHA, which is scheduled to be held from May 23 to May 28 in Geneva, Switzerland.
“In the meantime, we have maintained close contact with the WHO secretary-general. I think there is still a great possibility that we would receive an invitation and be able to attend this year’s session,” Linghu said.
Linghu declined to reveal details of the measures the government would take should it not receive an invitation, saying that the foreign ministry and the Ministry of Health and Welfare are engaged in the relevant preparations.
However, when answering questions from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) during the committee meeting, Minister of Health and Welfare Chiang Been-huang (蔣丙煌) said the government has not ruled out sending representatives to sit in the public gallery if it does not receive an invitation, as was done in 2009.
Taiwan first participated in the WHA in 2009 as an observer under the name “Chinese Taipei,” an arrangement subject to annual renewal with Beijing’s consent.
It has attended every assembly since then, but there is concern that Beijing might try to block an invite this year to send a message to the new government that takes office on May 20.
Foreign ministry officials were also quizzed on the issue during a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee by New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明).
“The foreign ministry seems to think that there is still a good chance that we will receive an invitation and will attend this year’s WHA session. It that really so?” Hsu asked Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Javier Hou (侯清山).
“There is still a chance,” Hou said, adding that to his understanding, the health ministry already has a backup plan.
Hou also said that the EU was helping Taiwan in its bid for an invitation.
Department of International Organizations Director-General Michael Hsu (徐佩勇) said that not all observers receive an invitation at the same time and that the foreign ministry has sought through other countries to understand the WHO’s operational processes regarding the assembly.
Pressed by Hsu Yung-ming on the likelihood of Taiwan attending the WHA if an invitation fails to arrive before the deadline for registering for the forum on Monday next week, Michael Hsu said there was a backup plan, but declined to discuss details.
The foreign ministry issued a statement later in the day saying that its representative office in Geneva has conveyed to the WHO the government’s plan to follow precedent and send a delegation to attend the WHA in a “professional and pragmatic” manner.
“The office also urged the WHO to send out an invitation at the earliest date possible, to which the UN agency said it is still in the process of preparing an invitation for us,” the foreign ministry said.
Additional reporting by staff writer
A Taipei veterinarian is urging pet owners to avoid using insecticides around their homes, as their ingredients can be toxic to pets. Commercial-grade insecticides contain pyrethroids — organic compounds similar to natural pyrethrins, pesticides produced by flowers such as chrysanthemums — in quantities that are harmless to humans, but potentially fatal to cats and dogs, Asian Veterinary Specialist Referral Center veterinarian Chua Man-ling (蔡曼琳) said. Even in small quantities, pyrethroids are hazardous to cats, as they lack the metabolic enzymes needed to process them, Chua said. Cockroach sprays and ant traps are especially dangerous to pets as they contain boric acid, she
DOING ENOUGH? The HPA budgets NT$1.3 billion to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but has no separate budget to fight teen drinking, a doctor said The government should step up alcohol education and prevention efforts, and allocate more of the budget to it, doctors said on Friday, citing the high consumption of alcohol among Taiwanese adolescents. One out of four 12-to-17-year-olds has consumed alcohol, said Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology. The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) budgets NT$1.3 billion (US$43.9 million) annually to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but it has not allocated a separate budget for preventing teenage drinking or excessive alcohol use, Yen said. “There is no so-called ‘safe drinking level’ for minors,” because any amount consumed
The Fancy Frontier manga and anime expo held in Taipei over the weekend has sparked controversy, after a participant allegedly contravened the Act on Offenses Against Sexual Morality (妨害風化罪) by publicly exposing her private parts during a photo shoot. The two-day event opened at the Expo Dome at the Taipei Expo Park on Saturday, attracting numerous comic and anime creators, cosplayers, photographers and fans. Allegedly, a female cosplayer who was not wearing any underwear lifted up her skirt and revealed her private parts at an outdoor photography area near the venue. Event organizers said yesterday that to prevent indecent exposure, they have since
DREAMING OF TRAVEL: About 7,000 people applied for the experience, with about 60 chosen for the first flight yesterday, which includes boarding an airplane Starved of the travel experience during COVID-19? Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) has the solution — a fake itinerary where you check in, go through passport control and security, and even board the aircraft. You just never leave. The airport yesterday began offering travelers the chance to do just that, with about 60 people eager to get going, albeit to nowhere. About 7,000 people applied to take part, with the winners chosen by random. More fake flight experiences are to take place in the coming weeks. “I really want to leave the country, but because of the pandemic, lots of flights cannot fly,”