Longtime immigrant rights advocate Lorna Kung (龔尤倩) and five immigrants who call themselves “unqualified citizens” yesterday announced their intention to run in the coming legislative elections and started a campaign to collect signatures, hoping to raise awareness among the public and in the government about immigrant rights.
“We’re here collecting signatures and asking for support at St Christopher’s Church [in Taipei], because we think immigrants and migrant workers need representatives who can speak for them in the legislature,” Kung said. “Immigrants and migrant workers live in Taiwan, they make a contribution to this country, they pay taxes. Therefore they should have the right to speak for themselves in Taiwanese politics.”
While Kung is a Republic of China (ROC) citizen who was born in Taiwan and meets the criteria to become a legislative candidate, the other five do not qualify as candidates, according to current laws.
The five immigrants are Tran Thu Lieu (陳秋柳), a spouse of Vietnamese origin who came to Taiwan eight years ago and has obtained ROC citizenship; Carlos Go (吳自安), an “ROC national without citizenship” born in the Philippines and who eventually obtained citizenship after staying in the country for 11 years; Harry To Hu (呂廈利), another “ROC national without citizenship” who holds an ROC passport, but not an ROC ID card; Tony Thamsir, an Indonesian living in Taiwan who has an Alien Permanent Resident Certificate; and Wena-Ari Wu, an Indonesian who came to Taiwan as an immigrant spouse five years ago and now holds an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC).
“There are roughly 500 ‘ROC nationals without citizenship’ living in Taiwan who have ROC passports, but not ID cards,” Go said, in English.
“We want to call the government’s attention to us, because it is ridiculous that people have a country’s passport, but not citizenship,” he said.
According to the Election and Recall Act for Public Servants (公職人員選舉罷免法), only ROC citizens have the right to vote and to become candidates in elections.
However, those who obtain citizenship through naturalization may only run in elections 10 years after becoming naturalized citizens.
Despite knowing they would not make it onto the ballot, Go said he had announced his intention to run, and join the signature collection campaign, to raise awareness among the public and the government about immigrant rights.
Although he was born in the Philippines, he has an ROC passport because he was born to parents who are ROC citizens from Fujian Province, when the ROC ruled China, and is not a Philippine citizen, he said.
When he came to Taiwan 11 years ago, he had to go through a seven-year process to obtain first an ARC and then the ROC national ID, he said.
“I am married to a Taiwanese, I love my family in Taiwan and I love Taiwan,” said Tran, another “unqualified candidate.”
“We immigrants are not outsiders here,” she added.