A video report published on the Focus Taiwan Web site on Tuesday highlighted the efforts of volunteers in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華) who are working with the area’s homeless people.
The video, which focused on the work of the nonprofit groups Homeless Taiwan and Do You a Flavor, said that a COVID-19 outbreak that started in May left the homeless in Wanhua — where one-third of the cases occurred — “even worse off than they already were.”
Before the outbreak, many homeless people could find work, but the closure of businesses due to pandemic restrictions has left them unable to work, the video said.
Volunteer groups have been providing the homeless with whatever work they can, and some local businesses have supplied spaces for storage of donated goods. A writer who often focuses on Wanhua District was cited as saying that he immediately sought donations and funding for the homeless as soon as the outbreak happened. The writer said that volunteers are an important source of help for the homeless due to the rapport they have established from working with them in the community over the years.
The government must ensure that volunteer groups are sufficiently funded so that they can continue to help the homeless and keep communities safe. However, one problem to overcome is that homeless people are often suspicious of government officials, who often lack the affinity with the community that volunteers possess. Two police officers were attacked by a knife-wielding homeless man in Taipei in May after they approached him and asked him to wear a mask. Many homeless people see the police or other authority figures as a threat, which might lead to confrontations. Had volunteers approached the same man, they might have been able to convince him to wear a mask and avoid a confrontation.
The best way to help the homeless in Wanhua — and all residents and businesses in the district — would be to help it recover economically. Taipei Business District and Industrial Confederation chairman Hung Wen-ho (洪文和) on June 8 said that 90 percent of storefronts in the district are now shuttered, and some might never reopen. The district as a whole will need at least six months to recover, he said.
The sooner Wanhua can see a return of visitors and shoppers the better, but the city will need to ensure that it is safe for that to happen, and will need to convince the public that it is safe.
“The most important thing now is to bring the pandemic under control, but the city also has a plan for rejuvenating the post-pandemic economy,” Taipei Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤) said on June 8.
The city plans to hold the Taipei Lantern Festival — which has been delayed due to the pandemic — in Wanhua when it is safe to do so, he said.
The festival could attract crowds, and the city can organize other cultural events in the district that celebrate the historical significance of Wanhua neighborhoods such as Dihua Street (迪化街), Bopiliao Historic Street (剝皮寮老街), Huaxi Night Market (華西街夜市), Ximending (西門町) and the district’s old temples. As Taipei’s oldest district, Wanhua is rich in culture and history that should be shared through its stories.
However, the city will face a challenge in overcoming the stigma that has befallen the district after all of the media coverage that described Wanhua as a COVID-19 hotbed over the past few months — something the National Communications Commission said in May that it had received numerous complaints about.
Wanhua is historically and culturally of immeasurable importance to Taipei, and its residents, including the homeless, have been some of the hardest hit during the outbreak. It is crucial that the government do everything it can to help the district recover so that it can continue to thrive in the post-pandemic era.
Last year, China entered into a spat with Lithuania over Vilnius allowing Taipei to open a de facto embassy using the name “Taiwan.” Beijing recalled its ambassadors from Lithuania and downgraded its diplomatic ties with the Baltic state to the “charge d’affaires” level. In hindsight, China should realize that this move handed Lithuania on a plate to Taiwan. China used its economic leverage as punishment. First, it tried to pressure German industry giant Continental AG to stop using Lithuanian-made components. When an EU trade commissioner said that Chinese customs were refusing to clear goods containing Lithuanian parts, China denied it was at
With the fall of Kabul not yet six months past, Washington faces a fresh test of its ability to sustain Pax Americana, as more than 100,000 Russian troops, heavy artillery and tanks mass on Russia’s border with Ukraine. The mounting crisis looks set to become the greatest test of US President Joe Biden’s administration to date — the outcome of which could have far-reaching implications and send ripples through the Taiwan Strait. Moscow’s Ukraine gambit appears designed to probe the Biden administration — to ferret out its red lines and ascertain whether Washington is willing to commit troops to defend its
The State Bank of India has raised US$300 million from the Taiwanese market through a maiden issue of Formosa bonds at a coupon rate of 2.49 percent. The issuance attracted a wide range of investors, such as supranational agencies, asset managers, private bankers and financial institutions. Meanwhile, the Indian government has also started talks with Taiwan on a free-trade agreement. These developments would normally have been treated as a routine affair between India and Taiwan, but as the countries do not enjoy formal ties, and India has in the past remained hesitant to sign a free-trade agreement with Taiwan, the activities
Treason, in legal terms, is when a person is disloyal to their own nation, as opposed to their government. In the US context, Oran’s Dictionary of the Law defines treason as “the crime ... committed by a US citizen who helps a foreign government to overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the US” — again, as opposed to the US government. Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) was the first Taiwanese to encourage China to unify with Taiwan by force. Appearing on Chinese television, he called for “reunification,” saying that Beijing should aim its missiles at