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September 20, 2017

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MOFA accused of slow response in Thailand

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday denied accusation that its office in Thailand has offered little assistance to two Taiwanese nationals who were recently injured in the Southeast Asian country.

The Chinese-language Apple Daily reported yesterday that two Taiwanese nationals were injured during a car accident at Hua Hin District in Thailand on Feb. 16.

One of them suffered serious injuries, including internal bleeding, and needed emergency surgery. Another suffered from relatively minor injures, the report said.

However, when a friend of the two called MOFA's emergency hotline for help on Feb. 16, MOFA officials asked the friend to send personnel information on the Taiwanese nationals first to the ministry so that it could handle the application the next day.

The friend, surnamed Wu, criticized the MOFA bureaucracy, saying that the delay could mean life or death for the two injured Taiwanese, the report said.

Asked to comment, MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) yesterday refuted the accusation by Wu, saying that the ministry offered timely assistance to the two Taiwanese in Thailand.

"We immediately contacted our office in Thailand to offer assistance to the two Taiwanese after we received the telephone call," Kao said.

Taiwanese officials in Thailand have arranged for the two nationals to undergo medical treatment in a nearby hospital. They also established contact with their families in Taiwan and informed them of the latest developments, she said.

The officials later met with the two in the hospital.

MOFA will continue to offer assistance to the Taiwanese in dealing with the aftermath of the incident, including working with related Thailand government units in finding out who should be held responsible for the car accident, Kao added.

It will also arrange for the two to return to Taiwan for further medical treatment or possible hospitalization if they make the request, she said.

Kao also explained that the ministry asked Wu to send more information on the two Taiwanese nationals first because they needed the information so that Taiwanese officials in Thailand can help them file for an application to be hospitalized in the country.

All MOFA personnel followed standard procedures of emergency assistance to Taiwanese when handling the case, she added.

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