Tsai Ing-Wen

Protesters decry Taiwan's ID delay

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 September, 2003, 12:00am


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More than 1,000 mainland spouses and their families protested in Taipei yesterday against what they say are the Taiwanese authorities' discriminatory policies and abuse of human rights.

The protesters oppose a legal amendment put forward by the Mainland Affairs Council that would extend from eight years to 11 the period mainland spouses must wait before getting Taiwanese identity documents. They want the same rights as foreign spouses, who need wait only four years.

'We are from the same race and speak the same language. Why would we be treated even worse than Southeast Asian women?' one protester said.

Shouting 'President, no discrimination', they staged a sit-in at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, before marching to the Presidential Office.

Police barred their way because the protest did not have approval. Representatives later submitted a petition addressed to President Chen Shui-bian.

Council chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen has said the revision is necessary to control the growth in mainland immigrants.

Within 10 years, their number is expected to climb from 200,000 to 1.5 million.

That would mean one in 15 Taiwanese residents were mainland immigrants.

Sources said the increasing numbers of mainland spouses and the possibility they could get involved in politics was a big concern for the government.

Legislator Chen Chien-jen, of the radical pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union, said his party had no sympathy for the mainland spouses.

'What they really want is participation in politics, to get government posts and to elect and unseat the politicians they don't like,' he said. His party would demand the government deport protesters who had yet to get their Taiwan IDs, he said.