Taipei, President Tsai Ing-wen (???) on Monday encouraged senior foreign missionaries to apply for Taiwanese citizenship now that the government has amended regulations to allow foreign nationals with special contributions to the country to apply for naturalization without having to surrender their original citizenship.
Tsai made the remarks while meeting with a group of senior Catholic missionaries who work in Taiwan.
Tsai noted that the missionaries she met have worked a collective 1,200 years in Taiwan, or an average of about 36 years each, adding that everyone is grateful and moved by their devotion to caring for people.
The president said Catholic priests have made great contributions to Taiwan's society over the years, including providing health care, education, and other social services, particularly to women, seniors and those with physical or mental disabilities.
Taking Sister Flaviana Sebis (???) as an example, Tsai said Sister Flaviana, who has lived in Taiwan for 57 years and heads a church in Hsinchu City, has done much to educate disadvantaged children in remote areas of Hsinchu.
Father Murray Eugene Michael (???), who came to Taiwan from the United States in 1958, has devoted himself to education in Chingshui, Taichung. He particularly focuses on socially disadvantaged families and migrant workers and regularly visits local prisons.
Noting that she could not possibly list the contributions of all Catholic missionaries in Taiwan given the time constraints, Tsai said she had the highest respect for them.
Many foreign missionaries came to Taiwan to support the country when economic development was still in its fledgling stage, Tsai said, adding that it's time for Taiwan to pay them back for their many decades of service.
Tsai said that currently, 167 Catholic missionaries are covered under the Mackay Program, which was launched in June 2011 for foreign nationals with Alien Permanent Resident Certificates (APRCs) over the age of 65 who have made longstanding contributions to Taiwan in such areas as social welfare, education, religion, medical care and culture.
Such individuals are entitled to discounts on public transport, admissions to scenic areas, government-run cultural establishments and recreational facilities.
Tsai said the government has amended the Nationality Act to allow foreign nationals who have made special contributions to Taiwan to become citizens without having to renounce their original citizenship.
Those eligible are encouraged to apply to become naturalized Taiwanese citizens, she added.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel