This month's breakfast meeting held on Saturday morning in Taipei featured two speakers from Australia, Dr Lily Wang and Professor Bruce Jacobs. Our usual chronicler of these events, Michael Turton, was absent so Jerome asked me to write a brief report.
Dr Lily Wang was born in Taiwan, went to high school in New Zealand and then got her medical degree in Australia. She is now a second year registrar in radiology and studying for a Master's degree in Public Health. She is also the CEO of the Australian Taiwanese WHO for Taiwan Action Association.
Taiwan's bid to obtain observer status at the WHA was the topic of Lily's presentation. Lily began by talking about the time of the SARS outbreak in 2003. It was not until seven weeks after the first SARS case was identified in Taiwan that the WHO sent any officials to Taiwan. She said Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO is like a "hole in the net" in the event of a major global outbreak of avian flu or other diseases.
Lily has written to many members of parliament in Australia about the issue and received responses. She also wrote a letter to the Western Pacific regional director of WHO and was surprised to get a response. In 2005 she got a motion passed on WHO membership for Taiwan at the NSW Young Liberals conference. She also raises the issue with her colleagues in the medical profession.
Bruce Jacobs is Professor of Asian Languages and Studies at Monash University in Melbourne. His connections with Taiwan go back more than 40 years. The main topic of his talk was 400 years of Taiwan history and seeing that history in terms of colonialism. The key point Bruce wanted to emphasize was that the Taiwan issue should not be framed in terms of independence versus unification, but as a process of decolonisation. He believes the KMT can also be considered a colonial regime and gave several examples of similarities between the Japanese colonial period and the KMT rule.
Bruce also shared his opinions about Ma Ying-jeou and the incoming KMT government. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's recent visit to China also came up for discussion. I'll have some more about Kevin Rudd in the links on Monday.
Update: Jerome has also written a report of the meeting.