Ma tries to dream of SARS nurse

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Severe acute respiratory syndrome played havoc in Taiwan, Taipei in particular, four years ago. Hundreds of people died in the metropolis, a few of them nurses. They had to take care of SARS patients quarantined in the hospital and contracted the contagious disease.

One of the nurses who died in the fight against SARS hailed from Yilan, where Kuomintang presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou, who was mayor of Taipei during the SARS epidemic, went on the stumps Sunday. Ma didn’t come back to Taipei right after the stumping. Instead, he stayed overnight — at the home of Miss Lin Chia-ling, a nurse at Hoping Hospital in Taipei who died in the winter of 2003, upon the invitation of Miss Lin’s parents. It all started in last May. After paying homage in Yilan to a resident killed in a railroad accident, Ma spotted a lady with tears in her eyes in a crowd cheering him. A gentleman by her side was trying to comfort her.

His curiosity roused, Ma went right to the pair and asked what she was sad about. She told him she was Miss Lin’s mother. The name rang a bell. Ma remembered the SARS fighter. Lin Yu-chi, the gentleman who was Miss Lin’s father, said he and his wife learned Ma was in Yilan and wanted to meet the Kuomintang standard bearer. “We hope,” the couple said, “you would come to our home to burn incense for our daughter.” Without a moment’s delay, Ma went with them on foot to their home and paid tribute to the deceased nurse.

“I shall return,” he promised. Mrs. Lin, who has a hard time surviving the trauma of her daughter’s death, asked Ma to stay at her home when he returned to the eastern Taiwan city. She said she had asked by divination for her daughter’s permission to invite Ma to stay at their home.

“My daughter has agreed,” the mother told the Kuomintang candidate. He kept his word. He stayed overnight in Miss Lin’s bedroom. “I wished to dream of Miss Lin,” Ma said yesterday after his overnight stay at the Lins. “I was prepared to say a lot of words to express my gratitude for her help (during the SARS epidemic) and my admiration for her courage, if she appeared in my dream,” he added. Ma said he had no dream while he was in bed asleep at the Lin home.