Sunday, April 22, 2007

Robin Winkler, an extraordinary man

The Taipei Times has a feature on one of the island's most important expats, Robin Winkler.

The right to make statements like this without fear of deportation, or accusations of being a meddling foreigner, was part of what got Winkler, after more than 20 years as a foreigner, to give up his US passport for a Taiwanese one, in 2003.

It's a right he exercises in countless meetings, speaking to vast congregations or a single legislator in soft Mandarin, making a point of referring to "we Taiwanese."

He had romantic reasons for becoming Taiwanese as well. Having a US passport, and the ability to leave "if things get bad," is like being "in two places at once," and he wanted to be fully here, where he had spent half his life, built his career and met his wife, a Taiwanese-born publisher.

Winkler is the head of Wild At Heart, a local environmental group. Their blog is here. If you have a few extra pennies, they'll be happy to put them to good use.


Anonymous said...

Quite interesting. Have you heard of many other Americans that have given up their US passport for a Taiwanese one?

I guess if you're dedicated and hope the locals will take you seriously (and want to use "we Taiwanese" in a speech) it could be a good move.

Even if one possesses a piece of paper that declares Taiwanese nationality, do you feel locals would ever truly agree with this status?

In an attempt to join the collective, isn't this also an incredible statement of individuality: denouncing one's nationality?

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen, I have discovered Taiwan's Nationality Law is unfair:

An Extraordinary Man said...

I think this is a great brief story, but I dont see why this makes Robin Winkler an extraordinary man.

Michael Turton said...

He became taiwanese, so he could participate in politics here without being kicked out. His environmentalism is legendary -- he doesn't fly, for example, because of its environmental effects. He is also extremely tough minded and very kind and generous. I admire him very much, even though there are many areas where we are in total disagreement.