By Flora Wang
Jan 13: Legislators across party lines yesterday passed an amendment to the Immigration Act that grants residency to a large number of Thai and Myanmar students and Tibetans living in exile in Taiwan.
Under the amendment, the government will grant residency to the offspring of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) soldiers from the border areas of Thailand and Myanmar who entered Taiwan between May 21, 1999, and Dec. 31 last year for studies or technical training with the permission of the Ministry of Education or the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission.
Tens of thousands of KMT troops retreated across the Chinese border and stationed themselves in northern Myanmar and Thailand following the defeat of former dictator Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist forces by the communists in the Chinese Civil War.
When the push to retake China never took place, many of the soldiers and their families were stranded in the region.
The amendment yesterday also allows the government to grant residency to Tibetans living in exile in Taiwan who entered the nation on Nepalese or Indian passports during the same period of time and whose identity have been confirmed by the Mongolian & Tibetan Affairs Commission.
Besides the amendment, lawmakers also passed a resolution urging the Executive Yuan to prioritize a draft refugee bill in the legislature's spring session.
KMT Legislator Shyu Jong-shyoung told a press conference that the bill would benefit 986 Tibetans and students from Thailand and Myanmar.
KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Lo Shu-lei referred to the measure as “necessary” for humanitarian reasons.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin said the amendment would “put an end to the suffering of many Tibetans and the offspring of KMT military personnel from Thailand and Myanmar.”
Lee Mai-ping, administrative secretary of the Thai-Myanmar Region Chinese Offspring Refugee Service Association, thanked the legislature for passing the bill.
“Finally the government is willing to take us in and a nation is willing to give us recognition,” she said.