The National Immigration Agency under the Ministry of the Interior awarded a Plum Blossom Card, which grants the recipient permanent residency in Taiwan, to Indian academic Shabbir Syed Abdul April 2 in Taipei City for bolstering international awareness of the country's medical technology sector.
Plum Blossom Cards are given to foreign nationals who make outstanding contributions to local society, foreign investors, and high-level foreign talents in a variety of fields critical to the nation's economic and social development, from communications and biomedicine to sports and the arts. The permanent residency program aims to upgrade Taiwan's competitiveness by attracting and retaining skilled professionals from around the world.
Shabbir, who earned a Ph.D. in 2013 from the Institute of Biomedical Informatics at National Yang-Ming University in Taipei City and currently works as an assistant professor at Taipei Medical University, received the honor for his efforts to build partnerships between TMU and medical institutions in the U.S., Europe and Mongolia.
A telemedicine expert, Shabbir was also recognized for his research at TMU on applying social media to help people quit smoking and improve sleep patterns as well as his work in designing an English-language massive open online course on using the Internet of Things to promote quality of life in old age. Available to learners from around the world, the MOOC has fostered knowledge of Taiwan's expertise in medical technology, the NIA said.
Typically foreign nationals qualify for an Alien Permanent Resident Card after living in Taiwan for a minimum of five years. The Plum Blossom Card program expedites this process for individuals who have made or could make significant contributions to Taiwan's development. According to the NIA, more than 100 foreigners have received a Plum Blossom Card since the first was issued in 2007.
Holders include Gottschild Monika Traute and Jonathan Tebeka, both of whom were awarded the card in March. Traute, a German nun, was cited for her dedication to taking care of mentally and physically challenged children in a nursing home in eastern Taiwan's Hualien County for almost 30 years.
Tebeka was recognized for his expertise in railway engineering and contributions to the development of Taiwan's transportation infrastructure. The French engineer helped design three new high-speed rail stations�in Miaoli, Changhua and Yunlin counties in northern, central and western Taiwan, respectively�that opened in December 2015.
Source: Taiwan Today