Taipei, July 16 (CNA) Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said Monday that he will approve an application by a charity body to establish a temporary home in the city's Daan District later in the week for children undergoing treatment for cancer and other critical diseases.
The mayor made the announcement despite reports that some residents vehemently oppose such a facility in their neighborhood.
Hau called for empathy from the residents, saying that what endears the city to others is its "friendliness" and "kindness."
Speaking during a visit to the site of the proposed home, Hau asked the agencies involved in the case to step up their communications with the residents.
At issue is a plan by the Ronald McDonald Children's Charity to set up the home in the Jinan ward to provide a temporary free shelter for sick kids from outside the city undergoing treatment in Taipei. However, a flyer that recently began circulating in the neighborhood says that the residents "would vehemently oppose such a home in their ward."
The flyer, which was later posted online, was panned by netizens, including film director Leon Dai, prompting a Cabinet spokesman to ask the ward chief to have more communication with the residents.
Calling for the authors of the flyer to show more love toward others, Hu Yu-wei said that if a suitable location cannot be found for the home, then the whole point will be lost, because if it has to be built far from the city's hospitals and lacks necessary transport links, the sick children will suffer.
A Taipei city government spokesman noted that the charity rented the building from the National Property Administration and then applied to the city government for permission to remodel it as a lodging house.
Lin Chih-hung, director-general of the city government's Department of Health, said that all the children admitted to the home will first be assessed and referred by hospitals in the city.
"The children will also be subject to infectious disease screening, so the residents have no need to worry," Lin said.
Lin said that on average, the sick children housed there will comprise 40 percent cancer patients (mostly leukemia), 20 percent congenital heart disease patients and 20 percent rare disease patients.
He said these children sometimes require one or two months of intensive treatment in Taipei after being diagnosed, and noted that the home will provide those who live outside Taipei or overseas with a place to stay while receiving treatment.
Meanwhile, Kung Chih-hui, the ward chief where the home is to be set up, said the opposition voiced in the flyer is not the consensus of the ward.
"The opposition is by only a few people and does not represent the consensus of the ward's 6,234 residents," she said.
She said most of the residents understand that the home will have a minimal impact on their lives and are simply concerned that regulations on the environment and social order will be enforced.
The grassroots official said the recent discussions on the Internet, as well as news reports, have given the public the impression that the residents are "insensitive" and "believe they are superior to others."
She also noted that although two public hearings have been held on the home this month, only a few residents attended.
(By Johnson Sun, Angela Tsai and Lilian Wu)