Taiwan is one step closer to becoming the first Asian country to legalize same sex marriage. Two draft amendments to the Civil Code aimed at legalizing same sex marriage passed the first reading at the legislature in Taiwan on December 26, 2016. Article 972 of the Civil Code will add the paragraph recognizing “both parties of a same sex marriage. This is an addition to recognizing marriage made by the male and female parties. Another amendment includes the rights and duties of the same sex couples who marry. According to the procedure of the legislature, the bill will be reviewed after April before it is passed as a law after the second and third readings.
The Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families Taiwan made up of multiple religious groups and parents oppose to the amendment and propose a “special law” to for LGBT marriage rights. Conservative religious groups, mostly the Christians, oppose to the amendment.
Victoria Hsu, the president of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR) will share with us her views on same sex marriage. Victoria Hsu is a lawyer and a member of the Gender Equality Committee of the Executive Yuan (Taiwan’s Cabinet).
Mrs.Vimala Britto, co-founder of of St.Britto’s Group of Institutions and founder of Seek Foundation, an NGO for the underprivileged said women empowerment and child development are the two main tasks her NGO, Seek, aims to serve. She has started to provide people in 15 villages near Chennai with good and healthy life.
Mrs.Vimala Britto represented her group to sign MOUs with Taiwan’s Changhua Christian Hospital and Da Yeh University in late January. Apart from medical care and education, she also hopes to find talents in Taiwan to take part in India’s 2017 Premier Futsal, a version of five-a-side football.
India’s St.Britto’s Group of Institutions and Seek Foundation, an NGO for the underprivileged signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Taiwan’s Changhua Christian Hospital to enhance cooperation in the field of medical health. Mrs.Vimala Britto, the co-founder and executive director said the cooperation also aims to provide good health and good life for the 15 villages near Chennai, South India. She said Taiwan’s Consul General in Chennai, Mr.Charles Li introduced the hospital to her. While she was in Taiwan, she also represented St.Britto’s College in Chennai to sign an MOU with Taiwan’s Da Yeh University. The MOU is intended to promote academic cooperation and exchange between faculty and students of both institutions. Mrs.Vimala Britto said that Britto’s College can accommodate 200 students from Taiwan for internship and exchange program.
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) was awarded the Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award in 2016 for their efforts to rescue and speak out for the disappeared despite facing political pressure and lack of resources.
Ms.Mary Aileen Bacalso, the secretary general of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) said Bangladesh has the most cases of enforced disappearances. She said many governments try to justify their problems by using national security as an excuse to take away political dissidents or opponents by force.
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances or AFAD was awarded the Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award in 2016. AFAD is an international human rights organization dedicated to the goal of stopping forced disappearances in Asia. It was founded in June 1998 in Manila, Philippines.
Ms.Mary Aileen Bacalso, the secretary general of AFAD said the winning of the award will amplify their efforts and gains here in Asia especially coming from Taiwan which had a common experience of forced disappearances by the government before the lifting of the martial law in July 1987.
Ms.Bacalso added that the award is a noble expression of friendship and solidarity and dedicated the award to all the disappeared in Asia and the rest of the world.
For more information about AFAD, please visit http://www.afad-online.org/
The Ambassador of Kiribati, Amb.Teekoa Iuta said apart from climate change, Kiribati faces population growth and diseases. Overpopulation is due to the uneven distribution of the population in urban areas such as South Tarawa, the capital city, with a population density of over 3,000 per square km.
The government has been thinking about the redistribution of the population but it has to do with the economic situation in the rural areas. According to Amb.Teekoa Iuta, Taiwan’s technical mission has been assisting with the agricultural and technical support to encourage more young people to move to the rural areas. The government has also been working with churches in the field of birth control as Kiribati is predominantly Roman Catholic which is opposed to artificial contraception.
The Ambassador of Kiribati, Amb.Teekoa Iuta said the relations between Taiwan and Kiribati have been stable and firm adding that the presence of the embassy in Taiwan is a testament to the strength of the existing relations between the two countries.
Kiribati is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. Taiwan has helped with the disaster fund when the country is hit by cyclones and supports international forum on climate change held by Kiribati. Paris Agreement was reiterated at the COP 22 that coping with climate change has become a priority for all governments.
To protect the environment food security, the 150,000-square-mile Phoenix Islands Protected Area in Kiribati was designated as a UNESCO heritage site and is a fully protected park, making it off limits to fishing.More
Welcome to the first edition of On the Line in the year 2017. On today’s show, I will revisit some of the favorite interviews from the past 12 months in 2016. We first start off with an interview with the former ambassador of Sao Tome and Prince, Ambassador António Quintas that I did in early 2016. Taiwan severed diplomatic ties on Dec.21, 2016 with Sao Tome and Principe, a West African country that established ties with Taiwan in 1997.
Some of the interviews include:
1. Former UK representative in Taiwan, Mr.Chris Wood. Mr.Wood left Taiwan in late August for a new
appointment in Beijing.
2. The Ambassador of St.Lucia, Ambassador Hubert Emmanuel .Saint Lucia is an island country
located in the eastern Caribbean Sea and opened an embassy in Taiwan in June, 2015.
3. Datuk Adeline Leong, the representative of Malaysian Friendship and Trade Centre (MFTC)
4. Former Ambassador of Nauru , Ambassador Ludwig Dowong Keke. Ambassador Keke assumed his
post in 2007 and left in August 2016.
5. DPP Legislator Liu Shyh-Fang
6. Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Alpha Berry
7. Ambassador Ismet Erikan, Representative, Turkish Trade Office in Taipei
8. Mr.Achilles Yeh, the representative of the Mozambique Investment Promotion Centre
Asher Yarden, the representative of the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei said in the year 2017, he hopes to increase the number of Taiwanese tourists to Israel stating that the number of Taiwanese tourists is between 6,000 and 7,000 which is far from satisfaction even though the number rose from 3,000 in 2010 to around 6,000 in 2014. He will discuss with airline companies both in Taiwan and Israel on the feasibility of direct flight services in the future.
Asher Yarden said the trade volume of US$1.5 billion dollars can also be enhanced. More can be done to increase the understanding of both sides as the Israeli representative says peoples of both sides do not know much about each other and he will do more to promote the bilateral trade relations.
The bilateral trade between Taiwan and Israel reached US $1.5 billion dollars in 2015. Asher Yarden, the representative of the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei said economic cooperation is important to Israel and in 2016, his office has invited both Taiwanese and Israeli business delegations to visit each other adding that he has also invited Israeli buyers to Taiwan.
Asher Yarden said the signing of the R&D agreement between Taiwan and Israel in 2015 provides a great opportunity for business companies of both sides to work on R&D and develop new products thereby creating new value through integration.More
The Executive Director of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, Mr.Mario Ste-Marie said the signing of the avoidance of double taxation in January 2016 will create a friendlier environment for bilateral investment for further cooperation in technology, health care and clean energy
He added that he hopes to boost cooperation in the area of clean energy as Canada hopes to expand its energy export market to Taiwan. Taiwan depends on energy exports particularly LNG (liquefied natural gas) as gas accounts for around 30% of the total energy consumption. Current supply sources come from Qatar, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Taiwan’s demand for LNG will continues to rise as the government promotes the use of natural gas for a low-carbon environment.
Another cooperation is in the area of the indigenous people. In Canada, Mr.Mario Ste-Marie said they are known as the First Nations. The cooperation focuses on education and work of the aboriginal peoples of the two sides.
Taiwan and Canada have enjoyed close bilateral exchanges over the last few decades, this can be seen from the growing number of staff at the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei. According to the executive director, Mr.Mario Ste-Marie, the office was founded in 1986 with only three staff members, but today, there’s around 40 staff handling the increasing exchanges.
As a matter of fact, people to people exchanges between Taiwan and Canada started as early as 1871 when a missionary, Dr.George Leslie Mackay arrived in Taiwan and the establishment of Mackay Memorial Hospital in 1912. Canada granted Taiwanese visa-free privileges in November 2010 and Mr.Mario Ste-Marie said as of August this year, the number of Taiwanese has increased by 26% as compared to the previous year. The Canadian has introduced a new entry requirement and starting November this year, all visa-exempt foreign nationals flying to Canada are required to have an eTA (electronic travel authorization).
For more information regarding eTA, please visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/
Mme.Zethu Dlamini, the wife of the ambassador of the Kingdom of Swaziland, is a fashion stylist and fashion lifestyle blogger. Zethu Dlamini used to work for Al Ostoura International Company, the oldest luxury fashion retailer in the Middle East, based in Kuwait and for KNOCKBOOK, an online advertising company in Kuwait. She lived in Kuwait before her husband was posted in Taiwan. Zethu Dlamini said there is a connection between Taiwan and Swaziland in the area of charity work, citing an example of Project Cannan that helps abandoned children in Swaziland. Zethu Dlamini said she hopes to do more in the future.