Tue, Oct 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Tsai speaks with missionaries, urges them to naturalize

Staff writer, with CNA

President Tsai Ing-wen speaks at the Presidential Office in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday encouraged senior foreign missionaries to apply for Republic of China (ROC) citizenship, as amended regulations allow foreign nationals who have made a special contribution to the nation to apply for naturalization without having to surrender other citizenship.

Tsai made the remarks at a meeting with a group of senior Catholic missionaries to Taiwan.

The missionaries had collectively worked 1,200 years in Taiwan, or about 36 years each, Tsai said, adding that Taiwanese are grateful and moved by their devotion to people.

Catholic priests have contributed greatly to society over the years by providing healthcare, education and other social services, particularly to women, elderly people and those with physical or mental disabilities, she said.

Flaviana Sebis is a prime example, Tsai said, adding that the nun, who has lived in Taiwan for 57 years and heads a church in Hsinchu, has done much to educate disadvantaged children in remote areas.

Eugene Michael Murray, who came to Taiwan from the US in 1958, has devoted himself to education in Taichung, Tsai said.

He has focused on socially disadvantaged families and migrant workers, and has regularly visited local prisons, she added.

Tsai said time would not allow her to list the contributions of all the Catholic missionaries in Taiwan, but added that she had the highest respect for them.

Many foreign missionaries supported the nation at the beginning of its economic development, Tsai said, adding that it was time for Taiwan to repay them for their many decades of service.

Tsai said that 167 Catholic missionaries are covered by the Mackay Program, which was launched in June 2011 for foreign nationals with an Alien Permanent Resident Certificate who are older than 65 and have made a longstanding contribution in areas such as social welfare, education, religion, medical care and culture.

Such people are entitled to discounts on public transportation and admittance to scenic areas, government-run cultural establishments and recreational facilities.

The government amended the Nationality Act (國籍法) to allow foreign nationals who have made a special contribution to become ROC citizens without having to renounce their original citizenship, Tsai said, adding that those eligible are encouraged to apply to become naturalized Taiwanese.

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