Mon, Feb 13, 2012 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Foreigners deserve fair play

It has become clear that Taiwan remains an insulated, xenophobic country, in spite of all the bluster about globalization, internationalization, welcoming other cultures, etc. The sad truth is that foreigners are still perceived as second-class citizens at best and generally as lacking any worth or importance.

This attitude may be a legacy of colonial days when foreigners such as the Dutch and later the Japanese were regarded as intruders.

Also, many foreigners are allowed into Taiwan to do the jobs the Taiwanese won’t do themselves — the dirty, dangerous and underpaid work. These workers are exploited by the agencies and bosses who take their passports and make them work overtime; with little free time and meager wages.

It is not surprising that the Taiwanese look down on these desperate and destitute workers who find little respect and even less protection from the government and courts in Taiwan until they riot or run away. Then the authorities finally take notice and quickly deport them.

In spite of all the stories of mistreated workers, we hear nothing of attempts to improve their condition. Whether this is because of bribes or simply indifference remains to be ascertained.

The incident in which a foreigner was attacked by three people for suggesting that children on a scooter should be wearing helmets is a perfect example of this anti-foreigner mentality (Letters, Dec. 21, page 8). The victim, who was walking with his wife and children at the time, reported the assault to the police, who showed little interest.

In the silent movie comedies of long ago, the Keystone cops were bungling, incompetent fools with serious expressions. Could the term be applied to the Taipei police who could not, or could not bother, to solve this crime in spite of witnesses, evidence and cameras? After all, it only involved a foreigner struck on the head with a brick. Strange that there is no further word on this crime — or maybe not!

Richard De Canio complained that he has been waiting 13 years for his case of wrongful dismissal by a university to be resolved (Letters, Feb. 12, page 8). Does this signify indifference or incompetence on the part of the judiciary?

De Canio pointed to the double standard of the Taiwanese taxi driver who was assaulted by a foreigner, which received immediate attention and results.

Several years ago, my son was denied permission to leave the country as the immigration officer did not know that a Canadian passport meant my son was Canadian. When I complained to the Immigration Department that I had lost a great deal of money and my wife and son had lost their vacation, I was told: “We will try to train our staff better.”

A Taiwanese reply to a complaining foreigner.

Foreigners contribute a great deal to Taiwan. That may change if Taiwan does not take us more seriously. It is also tarnishing Taiwan’s image abroad.

Chaim Melamed

Pingtung County

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