It is always good to see Taiwanese flocking to the polling stations to exercise their precious political rights in what can justly be hailed as one of the world’s best-functioning democracies.
Though it is less than three decades since Taiwan embraced democracy, its democratic system puts to shame the failings of much older democracies, such as the US, with the skewing effect of its electoral colleges, and the UK, with its widely condemned first-past-the-post voting system.
Having lived in Taiwan since the mid-1980s, I have borne witness to every election here, and have been nothing but impressed by the order, efficiency and essential fairness of the whole process.
The main pity is that, except for a tiny number of octogenarian priests and others who are permitted to naturalize without having to renounce their original citizenship, the vast majority of us foreign residents are effectively and permanently excluded from access to citizenship and enjoyment of the most basic rights of participation in the affairs of the state where we have made our home.
No matter if we have lived here for decades, working diligently in jobs that cannot be filled by local people, always paying our full share or more of taxes, scrupulously abiding by local law and custom, bringing in money from abroad to invest here, marrying Taiwanese and raising our children as Taiwanese, helping build bridges across the world for Taiwan and cheering for it in the international community, we are forever excluded from citizenship by the unconscionable and insupportable unfairness of Article 9 of the Nationality Act (國籍法).
However much pleased and impressed we might be by closely witnessing Taiwan’s democratic election process, as our spouses, children and in-laws head off excitedly to cast their votes, joining in choosing who gets to make policies and laws that will govern our lives and decide how our tax contributions will be spent, we cannot help but feel pained at our exclusion from participation.
It is especially hard to bear when we encounter canvassers during election campaigning, and are either pointedly ignored, as if we did not exist, or else beseeched for votes that cannot be in our possession to bestow.
Nothing makes me feel more excluded and more of an outsider in Taiwan, and I know that many of my fellow foreign residents feel the same.
When Taiwanese reside in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and many other of our home countries, they are accorded a fast and easy route to naturalization without any need for renouncing their Republic of China citizenship. Why does Taiwan baulk at reciprocating by according the same basic right to suitably qualified foreign residents?
As the world observes and applauds another successful outcome to a round of elections in this model East Asian democracy, wouldn’t it be a good time for the newly elected government to correct the injustice of the law that keeps us foreign residents locked out of the fundamental civil and political rights that this country is so proud to have created for its own people?
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has over the past few months continued to escalate its hegemonic rhetoric and increase its incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. The US, in turn, has finally realized how its “strategic ambiguity” is increasingly wearing thin. Similarly, any hopes the US had that the PRC would be a responsible stakeholder and economic player have diminished, if not been abandoned. Taiwan, of course, remains as the same de facto independent, democratic nation that the PRC covets. As a result, the US needs to reconsider not only the amount, but also the type of arms
Taking advantage of my Taipei Times editors’ forbearance, I thought I would go with a change of pace by offering a few observations on an interesting nature topic, the many varieties of snakes in Taiwan. I will be drawing on my experiences living in Taiwan five times, from my teenage years in Kaohsiung back in the early sixties, to my last assignment as American Institute in Taiwan Director in 2006-9. Taiwan, with its semitropical climate, is a perfect setting for serpents. Indeed, one might say serpents are an integral part of the island’s ecosystem. Taiwan is warm, humid, with lots of
China constantly seeks out ways to complain about perceived slights and provocations as pretexts for its own aggressive behavior. It is both victimization paranoia and a form of information warfare that keeps the West on the defensive. True to form, China objected even to the innocuous reference to Taiwan at April 16’s summit meeting between US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Neither leader’s prepared remarks even mentioned Taiwan, out of deference to the Japanese side. Biden’s opening statement was modest: “Prime Minister Suga and I affirmed our ironclad support for US-Japanese alliance and for our shared security.
Last month, the Philippine National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea reported that more than 200 Chinese fishing vessels were anchored at the disputed Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea, known as Julian Felipe Reef in the Philippines. The task force released astonishing photographs, which showed clusters of enormous fishing trawlers at anchor and tied together in neat rows. Needless to say, the ships were not engaging in commercial fishing activity; they belong to China’s “maritime militia.” Beijing’s flimsy official explanation is that the vessels are temporarily seeking shelter from inclement weather. This is patently ridiculous, given the time that