Liu case reflects on Taiwan
Former Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kansas City director-general Jacqueline Liu (劉姍姍), Taiwan’s infamous human trafficking felon, can take some minor consolation that her alleged offense mirrors both Taiwan’s law and practice when it comes to Southeast Asian workers, reflecting Taiwan’s near-complete disregard for their basic human rights.
Foreign laborers here must pay extortionate broker fees, both in Taiwan and in their home countries, but can be fired by employers without cause or recourse at any time, thereby returning to their homelands mired in debt.
Housekeepers (as in the Liu case) and caregivers are particularly vulnerable, often forced to do both jobs, while being shopped around to clean the houses of numerous family members. They can be subjected to any abuse and indignity up to and including rape and there is absolutely no one they can appeal to without being immediately fired and deported.
As a modest proposal, this disgraceful situation could be ameliorated if Taiwan prohibits the practice of brokers keeping workers’ passports and original Alien Resident Certificates, and that workers be allowed a reasonable grace period to find other employers if disagreements can not be settled otherwise, as is the case in Hong Kong.
The FBI prosecution and the court’s verdict of Liu provide a great service to Taiwan by focusing on its domestic shortcomings in this area of basic human rights.
It is time that the laws are changed and now.
How’s the recession going?
Since first visiting Taiwan in early 2010, I’ve been met with nothing but friendly, kind and helpful people until dealing with a bureaucrat in one of your “trade” organizations.
As I plan on making Taiwan my home, I certainly want to see business and industry here thrive. I work with a US-based marketing company that has an e-commerce Web site that they want to use to exclusively market Taiwan-made products to the US market. As a starting point, I thought it was a good idea to contact the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). With a name like this, I thought for sure I had arrived at the best place that could help me in meeting Taiwanese exporters.
After offering a brief overview of the plans of filling our Web site ONLY with Taiwan-made products, which would allow the exporter to receive higher compensation than bulk pricing, and offering a meeting over noodles and dumplings to discuss our plans (I have a favorite lunch place in Taipei), I was offered a link exchange. I was not invited to meet with Taiwanese exporters, my request to meet with TAITRA representatives was ignored, yet I was invited to participate in a link exchange.
I was also informed that for the past two years, TAITRA has focused on promoting Taiwan-made products through the companies eBay and Newegg.com. I was happy to hear this news, as I explained that after having spent nearly 20 years on the Internet and purchasing tens of thousands of US dollars worth of products online, I’ve never bought anything through eBay or Newegg.com. I was also happy to point out that my solution was much different in that Taiwan would not have to compete with Chinese-made products, Japanese-made products or South Korean-made products that crowd those sites, as our site would offer only Taiwan-made products.