Thu, Sep 20, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Local community petitions foreign workers to leave

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Following recent accusations of discrimination against foreign workers by Taipei Railway Station, another incident of alleged discrimination has surfaced, with about 1,000 residents in a Taoyuan County community petitioning to have 30 Filipino workers move out of the area.

Hanging up large banners that read “No to foreign workers in our community,” residents of Rueilian Community (瑞聯社區) in the county’s Bade City (八德) said they did not want the foreign workers from the nearby Ablecome Technology company to stay in the community because of safety concerns.

“We are concerned about our safety,” a resident, Lin Feng-mei (林鳳美), said in a video clip aired by Public Television. “There are many children living in this community. Most of the families here have children, and they are afraid of playing in the park because those foreign workers also spend their leisure time in the park.”

About 1,000 residents of the community signed a petition earlier this month, asking Ablecome to resettle the foreign workers as soon as possible.

While Ablecom general manager Liang Chien-fa (梁見發) said he disagreed with their views, he has agreed to find another place for his employees to stay by Oct. 6.

“They [the Filipino workers] have been staying in the community for only about two weeks, and there have been no problems at all,” Liang said, adding that foreign workers are no different from locals, but the company has agreed to relocate them because of the community’s opposition.

Taoyuan County Councilor Lu Lin Hsiao-feng (呂林小鳳), who represents the constituency, denied that residents wanted foreign workers to leave because of racial discrimination.

“It has nothing to do with discrimination,” she said. “With 460 households and more than 1,000 residents, Rueilian is a peaceful community. They are merely worried that clashes could happen because of these foreign workers, with their different skin color and different culture, going in and out of the community.”

The incident in Taoyuan is the second case of apparent discrimination that has surfaced recently in the nation. Earlier this month, Taipei Railway Station came under fire for cordoning off parts of its lobby on weekends after receiving complaints that gatherings of migrant workers to celebrate Eid al-Fitr last month were bothersome.

Taiwan International Workers Association secretary-general Chen Hsiu-lien (陳秀蓮) said that she was not surprised because discrimination has always existed, “it’s just a matter of whether it surfaces.”

“Last Sunday, a member of our association took a group of Filipino workers to Xinsheng Park in Taipei to practice drumming, and police officers appeared within 30 minutes, saying the Filipino workers were too noisy and could disturb people in a nearby library, and that they were violating the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法), because they did not apply for an assembly permit in advance,” Chen said.

“But there’s no library near the park. It’s already very noisy there because it’s close to Songshan airport, and, when have you heard of people needing to apply for a permit to practice drumming in a park? What about those who exercise and do aerobics dancing in the park?” Chen said.

Chen said what happened last Sunday was not an isolated case.

“We often have difficulties renting an office too, because some of our neighbors pressure the landlord since they don’t want ‘people with dark skin’ to be going in and out of the building,” he said.

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