Immigrants who contribute to Taiwan are Taiwanese: Ma
July 13, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
TAIPEI--President Ma Ying-jeou said Saturday that all immigrants to Taiwan can be viewed as Taiwanese, regardless of when they arrived, once they are willing to contribute to the country.
At an award ceremony for model new immigrant families, Ma greeted immigrants from Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and the Dominican Republic in their native languages.
The president said Taiwan is a society of immigrants and this is particularly evident in the capital Taipei where two-thirds of the residents are from other areas of Taiwan or other countries.
He said that while new immigrants usually encounter more difficulties than local residents, this motivates them to tackle challenges and spurs their ambition to distinguish themselves. This is why many new immigrants tend to perform outstandingly in various fields, he added.
For instance, six of the 55 recipients of this year's President's Educational Awards Friday were children of new immigrants, Ma said.
"Once you want to contribute to this piece of land, you are Taiwanese," Ma said, describing himself as an immigrant who had moved to Taiwan earlier.
Sean Lien, the ruling Kuomintang's (KMT's) mayoral candidate for Taipei, said at the ceremony that new immigrants, whether in Taiwan or the United States, are usually a group of people who work particularly hard to make a living. They should be welcomed into Taiwan's society, he added.
With President Ma's efforts, some stringent immigration restrictions have been lifted, Lien said.
In addition, he said, social welfare measures for new immigrants have been introduced by incumbent Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, who was also at the ceremony.
The government should offer more assistance to help new immigrants adapt to life in Taiwan, Lien said, suggesting for example language courses at community universities.
Ma, who is also chairman of the KMT, did not campaign for Lien during the ceremony, but is scheduled to attend a KMT event in Taipei Sunday to drum up support for Lien ahead of the November mayoral election.