Physician, cultural conservationist become naturalized citizens

TAIPEI (CNA) – Physician Ngu Ung Su from Malaysia and Canadian Curtis Regan Smith are two of 11 foreign professionals approved to become naturalized citizens in Taiwan’s latest review of naturalization applications, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) said Tuesday.

Ngu is a physician who volunteered to treat patients infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a severe form of pneumonia, when the deadly disease reached Taiwan and caused multiple fatalities in 2003, the MOI said in a statement released Tuesday.

Smith was praised for his long-term work to promote the conservation of culture in Taiwan, including efforts to preserve historical communities, buildings and facilities on the island, such as the former residence of the U.S. ambassador and Forty-four South Village in Taipei, over the past two decades.

Speaking about his naturalization, Smith said he has lived in Taiwan for 30 years and did does not like it when people refer to him as a “Lao Wei” (foreigner).

Now he can call himself a “Taiwanese,” Smith said in an interview with CNA Tuesday, adding that as a naturalized citizen, he will work even harder to protect Taiwan’s environment and culture.

Ngu told CNA that she has lived in Taiwan since 1994, when she began studying medicine at National Yang-Ming University in Taipei.

Following a revision of the law to allow high-level foreign professionals obtain Republic of China (Taiwan) citizenship without relinquishing their original nationality, Ngu said she is delighted to become a citizen.

“Taiwan is already home,” she said, adding that it is where she finished school, got married and works.

Since the new regulations under the Nationality Act were promulgated in March 2017 — as part of government efforts to recruit and retain top talent from around the world — 76 foreign professionals have become naturalized citizens, including Ngu and Smith.

The 11 new ROC citizens are mostly in their 40s-50s, including four professionals in the field of medicine, two in art and culture, two in economics, two in education, and one in another area, the MOI said.

By Wang Cheng-chung and Elizabeth Hsu