Tue, Dec 30, 2008 - Page 1 News List

COMMUNITY COMPASS: Foreign ‘white collar workers’ grade life in Taiwan

TELL US Despite a need for improvement in a number of sectors, the satisfaction level of of foreigners living in Taiwan continues to grow, reaching 49 percent this year

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

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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.

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