A government-commissioned survey released last week showed that foreign nationals in Taiwan gave the nation a score of 87 for overall satisfaction with Taiwanese hospitality, the highest score in the 36 items examining the country’s living environment for foreigners.
A lower score was given to the bilingual signs category, with overall satisfaction for bilingual markings on the packaging of various products receiving the lowest score, at 58 points, the survey showed.
The survey polled what it called “white-collar foreign workers” living in the country, a bit of a departure from past surveys, which polled foreigners coming to Taiwan for travel, study or business.
Asked why this year’s survey limited itself to “white-collar foreign workers,” Sung Yu-hsieh (宋餘俠), deputy minister of the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, said the survey would serve as a reference for the government to bring the living environment for foreigners in line with international standards.
“The purpose of the survey was to attract more international talent,” he said. “Foreigners working on construction sites or working as housemaids come to Taiwan through specific channels and their opinion is solicited by the Council of Labor Affairs from time to time.”
Government statistics showed that 373,190 foreign workers were employed in the country by the end of October, while the commission said the population of white-collar foreign workers was estimated at 18,645.
Sung said that regardless of which groups were targeted in the survey, foreign nationals’ overall satisfaction with the country’s living environment continued to increase, from 39 percent in 2006, 40 percent last year and 49 percent this year.
From a maximum of 100 points, the overall satisfaction rate this year was 67.9 points, he said.
The survey comprised seven categories. An average score of 69.1 was received for the “satisfaction with overall government performance” category, 66.1 for “overall satisfaction with bilingual signage,” 65.8 for “overall satisfaction with bilingual Web sites,” 64.9 for “overall satisfaction with emergency assistance information,” 67.2 for “overall satisfaction with service facilities for foreigners,” 87 for “overall satisfaction with Taiwanese friendliness toward foreigners” and 82.2 for “overall satisfaction with social cohesion.”
Respondents found bilingual Web sites and bilingual signage most unsatisfactory.
For bilingual signage, the highest score (66.1 points) was given to hospitals and clinics, followed by financial institutions, government agencies and department stores, as well as schools, hotels, restaurants and sightseeing spots.
Lung Wen-bin (龍文斌), a counselor at Shih Hsin University commissioned by the commission to conduct the survey, said the lack of bilingual markings on food products, inadequate descriptions on the country of origin and contents of food products or Chinese markings covering other markings on imported food items were most troubling.
Respondents gave 58 points to bilingual markings on food products.
Sung said different spellings on various road signs resulting from the adoption of different Chinese Romanization was expected to be resolved as the Ministry of Education has recently drawn up plans to replace Tongyong Pinyin with Hanyu Pinyin, starting next year.
On Dec 18, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) approved the amendment to the Guidelines of Chinese Phonetic Spelling Usage (中文譯音使用原則), reversing a policy adopted by the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government. The DPP government enacted a guideline in 2002 stipulating that the official Romanization system in the country was Tongyong Pinyin.
Also receiving low scores in the survey were items under the “emergency assistance information” category.
Respondents gave less than 65 points to English signage at police stations, the English proficiency of foreign affairs police and emergency medical personnel, as well as the quality of service at fire departments and police stations.
Asked whether they adapted well to Taiwan, respondents gave an average of 82 points.
“While there results show that Taiwan receives high marks for friendliness toward foreigners, it also shows there is still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to bilingual facilities and communication abilities,” Sung said.
Regarding service quality provided by the government, the Information for Foreigners Web site (iff.immigration.gov.tw) and the 24-hour hotline (0800-024-111) received an average satisfaction score of 71 points, but more than 50 percent of respondents said they were “completely unaware of the [existence of those] services.”
Sung said the hotline service, which provides foreigners 24-hour, toll-free service, was offered in Chinese, English and Japanese, to help them resolve problems in areas such as medical treatment, visas, housing, employment, taxation and insurance.
The survey was conducted in person between Aug. 8 and Sept. 9, Sung said. A total of 1,088 valid samples were received with a confidence level of 95 percent and a 3 percent margin of error.
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