More than 400 descendants of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) soldiers who were left behind in Myanmar and Thailand 60 years ago demonstrated yesterday in Taipei, demanding the government grant them citizenship.
Following the KMT’s defeat in the Chinese Civil War 60 years ago, tens of thousands of its soldiers moved across the Chinese border into Myanmar and Thailand.
They became trapped there when the KMT regime collapsed in China and fled to Taiwan.
PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES
When the governments of Myanmar and Thailand refused to grant them residency or citizenship, they became stateless.
“Although they’ve always been stateless, the government has, in the past, allowed them to come to Taiwan to study and granted them citizenship right away — sometimes within one week or one day,” said Liu Hsiao-hua (劉小華), executive director of the Thai-Myanmar Region Chinese Offspring Refugee Service Association.
Since none of them hold Thai or Myanmar citizenship, they had to come to Taiwan with forged or bought passports.
“But the government told them as long as they could get to Taiwan, it didn’t care how they did it,” Liu said.
The situation changed in May 1999 when the Immigration Act (移民法) was revised and the provision was canceled, Liu said.
However, the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission (OCAC) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) did not publicize the new policy and continued to recruit students in those areas.
“I came to Taiwan in 2000 and was told by the MOE that I may get permanent residency in Taiwan after five to seven years,” said Wan Chien-chu (王建菊), who came from northern Thailand and graduated from the National Taipei College of Business in February.
“I’ve received my degree, but without proper documents, I cannot take any national exams for a license and therefore I cannot work,” she said.
This was also the case for Huang Chien-pang (黃建邦), who said that his family has “been stateless for three generations.”
“After buying a forged passport and paying my tuition, I’m NT$120,000 [US$3,950] in debt,” Huang said. “So I had to quit school and began working as a construction worker to make about NT$10,000 to NT$20,000 a month.”
Huang added that without proper documents, he can’t do anything if he’s not paid, and has to pay the full cost when seeing a doctor as he has no health insurance.
However terrible their life in Taiwan is, there is no way back either.
“Since most of them came on forged passports, the Myanmar and Thai governments will not allow them to return — so they’re trapped,” Liu said.
After demonstrating outside the Legislative Yuan, they moved on to the Executive Yuan, where they were invited inside to talk with two low-level officials.
However, the representatives left the Executive Yuan disappointed.
“They only said that they would study the possibility of revising current laws, but wouldn’t give us a concrete timetable,” Liu said. “Before any changes in the law, they [the students] will still have to live illegally — meaning that they’re breaking the law even for walking on the street.”
VOTERS’ CHOICE: The DPP’s Chen and independent candidate Huang conceded defeat before 7:20pm, with Chiang pledging to remain humble and do his best Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) yesterday won the Taipei mayoral election, with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate defeating the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) pick, former minister of health and welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), and former Taipei deputy mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), an independent. After polling stations closed at 4pm, the Taipei Election Commission issued a preliminary estimate that voter turnout in the city was about 64 percent, slightly lower than in 2018. Chiang, 43, is to be the youngest Taipei mayor ever, with the KMT regaining the capital after eight years. Chen had an exceptionally high national approval rating when he was head
A naval landing craft on Thursday sank near Kinmen County after wet weather and rough seas flooded its cabin, the Naval Fleet Command said. The vessel, called Landing Craft Mechanized 1326, had completed transport and replenishment missions in the county and was returning to Taiwan proper when surging waves flooded the cabin, the navy said in a statement. The craft’s five crew members tried to bail out the water to no avail, the Navy said. The landing craft eventually sank off Kinmen’s Liaoluo Bay (料羅灣) at 5:18pm, although all crew members rescued, it said, adding that the precise cause of the sinking
FAMILY BACKGROUND: Chiang was effective in running a cautious campaign to avoid making mistakes, waiting for other candidates to slip up, an analyst said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei Mayor-elect Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) stood out among his rivals due to his energy, his die-hard supporters and his relative openness to discuss issues such as same-sex marriage, a political analyst said yesterday. Chiang’s campaign was also aided by his family’s background in politics, which helped him garner greater support in Taipei where there is a large KMT base, said the analyst, who chose to remain anonymous. “Chiang is also not a typical KMT member when it comes to certain issues, such as gay marriage, and his more open stance widened his support base — particularly among young
TOURIST HOTSPOT: The air charter services would drastically cut travel time to the world-renowned beach with its service to Caticlan, instead of Kalibo Royal Air Philippines is to launch next month direct flights between Taiwan and the Philippine city of Caticlan, a closer entry point to tourist hotspot Boracay. The airline will initially offer six charter flights between Dec. 26 and Jan. 15, with the flight frequency increasing to one per day during the Lunar New Year and winter holidays from Jan. 19 to Feb. 8, it announced at a news conference in Taipei yesterday. The charter flight services will drastically cut travel time to Boracay to about two hours and 45 minutes. Before the new route is launched, travelers from Taiwan who