Public parks in Taiwan can appear to be deserted during the day however towards the evening as the sun sets they often become a hub of activity.
One of the weirdest experiences we’ve had with the public parks is riding through some during the afternoon feeling like we were cycling through some post-apocalyptic landscape, only to return later that evening and find literally hundreds of people out and about.
Young and old playing sports, walking their dogs, cycling around, strolling through the parks, illegally fishing, playing board games, listening to music and watching the world go by… there’s no end to the possibilities Taiwan’s parks provide and everyone is welcome to participate and use the provided facilities.
Well, except mentally ill people. They can fuck right off.
Kaiyuan Park in Taipei County’s Sanchong District (west of Taipei City) was established roughly ten years ago and boasts gym, playground and basketball facilities.
Since its inception, Kaiyuan Park has also banned entry to mentally ill people. Those with infectious diseases were also banned from using the park.
For a decade this law has gone unchallenged and was publicly displayed on government erected noticeboards around the park.
The signage prohibited mentally ill and those with infectious diseases from the park and warned that repeat offenders would be prosecuted by the government in court.
I don’t know whether it’s a testament to people ignoring signage put up in parks, a general lack of not caring or community approved discrimination against mentally ill people, but it was only recently that a man noticed the rule on the park signage and lodged a formal complaint.
Hiding behind supposed “local customs”, the Sanchong Local District Office responded by stating that the rule was put in place a decade ago due to what are now “outdated” local laws.
It’s unclear when exactly these laws became outdated, but whenever it was it didn’t stop the council from continuing to ban mentally ill people from Kaiyuan Park.
Following the complaint, the District Office announced that they had initiated plans to replace Kaiyuan Park signage to reflect the change in local law and to inspect signage displayed at 53 other public parks under their jurisdiction.
A bit of an insight there into the Taiwan of old and a seemingly culturally ingrained stigma against those who suffer from mental illness and infectious diseases.
Well perhaps not too old, it was only mid last year that Shida residents ended their protest against a planned temporary shelter for children suffering from cancer who lived outside of Taipei to stay whilst having treatment from being set up in their neighbourhood.
During the campaign locals vehemently campaigned against the shelter claiming that cancer was contagious and vowing to “shed blood if necessary” to protect their homes.
And if having nowhere to stay whilst undergoing treatment and being banned from public parks wasn’t bad enough, then you’ve also got family members betting on when you’ll die.
Sucks to be an ill person in Taiwan.
Source: Apple Daily