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Dental mission brings warmth to Taiwanese imprisoned in Thailand

2012/06/27 22:38:31

Bangkok, June 27 (CNA) Two Taiwanese dentists visited a prison in Bangkok, Thailand Wednesday to conduct dental procedures on dozens of Taiwanese prisoners as well as offer them spiritual support.

Huang Chun-feng and Yang Chung-ho examined and treated more than 30 Taiwanese prisoners at Klongprem Central Prison in the Thai capital. It was their fifth mission in five years to treat Taiwanese inmates in Thailand.

The dentists filled cavities and conducted root canal procedures as well as teeth cleaning treatments for the inmates.

An inmate, surnamed Yu, said that due to language barriers and the lack of health insurance in Thailand, prisoners like him met many difficulties when seeking medical help. He said the mission really helped solve their dental problems.

Huang said the short period of time the dentists and the prisoners spent together helped the inmates feel the support from their home country and gave them spiritual support and consolation.

He said over the past five years, he has received many thank-you cards and letters from the prisoners he treated in Thailand and some of the inmates clearly recounted in the letters the changes in their mindsets before and after they committed crimes.

One of the inmates wrote Huang several times after a treatment and in the letters, the inmate recited his life, the period when he went astray, the time he served in prison and how religion influenced him, Huang said.

However, Huang said, the man died of heart disease in prison before he had a chance to regain freedom.

Henry Chen, head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand, which helped make the medical missions possible, promised the office will assist the inmates as much as possible and will keep the inmates' families in Taiwan informed about their loved ones.

More than 170 Taiwanese nationals are currently imprisoned in Thailand. Taiwan's representative office in Thailand helps arrange dental medical missions to one Thai prison each year to treat Taiwanese inmates, the office said.

(By Namita Lin and Jamie Wang)