Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Angry academics rail against WHO at think tank forum

Local academics accused the WHO of being blinded by politics, suggested reviewing Taiwan's bidding strategy to enter the body and entertained giving Taiwan a "bad boy" image in a forum on Tuesday.

Lamenting Taiwan's setback in its WHO membership bid, speakers attending a Taiwan Think tank forum said the WHO had degenerated into a political organization instead of one that "provides leadership on global health matters."

"The WHO yielded to China's political pressure in ignoring Taiwan's bid once again and put global health in jeopardy by leaving Taiwan out of the global health system," said Lo Chi-cheng, a professor at Soochow University.

Chiu Ya-wen, a researcher at the National Health Research Institute, said: "Taiwan is not poor enough, not sick enough and not bad enough. And Taiwan doesn't have the courage to violate WHO regulations."

"As the saying goes, `noisy children get the candy.' Maybe we should be like North Korea, creating trouble and being a bad boy so the international community will raise its eyebrows," political commentator Paul Lin said.

David Huang, an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica's Institute of European and American Studies, said Taiwan should ask its diplomatic allies to attempt to invalidate a memorandum of understanding signed by the WHO Secretariat and China in 2005.

In related news, the US State Department reiterated its support on Tuesday for Taiwan to attend annual meetings as an observer of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO's decision-making arm.

State Department officials made the remarks in response to media inquiries after the nation suffered a setback in its bid for membership of the WHO under the name of "Taiwan."

The US government encourages Taiwan to participate in international organizations in a meaningful manner and believes that the people of Taiwan are capable of making contributions in the area of global public health.

Therefore should enjoy the relevant rights and benefits, the officials said.

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