The majority of cultural, educational, recreational and entertainment establishments in Taiwan currently use height as the standard when offering discounts to kids, which often leads to disputes and controversy. In the near future, however, age will become the sole determining factor. The legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee passed drafted amendments to the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act in the first reading on Dec. 24. The new legislation stipulates that restaurants, as well as cultural, educational, recreational and entertainment establishments should use age instead of height as the standard for discounts to entrance fees for children.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang, who is also executive director of the Child Welfare League Foundation, says that a recent survey the foundation conducted found that height is the main standard used when offering discounts on entrance fees for children at public and private business, but the standards lack uniformity, she says. Some businesses use the standard of 90cm, while others use 110cm or 115cm. The international standard, however, is typically age, not height. By using height as a standard, Taiwan is violating the principles of equality and putting taller kids at a disadvantage, so the legislation has to be changed, Wang says.
The amendments stipulate that government institutions, as well as public and private businesses ought to use age as a standard when offering children discounted entry fees, and that they should offer free admission to children under a certain age. But what age is “a certain age”? Chang Hsiu-yuan, director-general of the Child Welfare Bureau under the Ministry of the Interior, says that the ministry will be holding meetings with managers from public and private businesses to discuss the issue. They are currently mulling setting different standards for specific types of businesses.
1. recreational adj.
休閒的 (xiu1 xian2 de5)
例: The government is increasing the budget for public recreational facilities in that district.
2. establishment n.
公司；會社；機關 (gong1 si1; hui4 she4; ji1 guan1)
例: I’m new in town. Any suggestions for a local food establishment?
3. dispute n.
糾紛 (jiu1 fen1)
例: The land dispute lasted for 20 years before finally being settled in court.
Chang says the ministry is planning on simply converting the current standard height of 110cm to “three years,” and stipulating that children three years of age or younger should get free admission or only be charged a certain percentage of the full price. If things go well after the amended legislation goes into effect and public and private business are willing to cooperate, they will consider raising the standard age to four, five or even six years of age.
Chang says that the scope of public and private enterprises is vast, as it includes the industries of transportation, medicine, culture and education, as well as the food and beverage industry. She says that the problem of setting standards is a thorny issue. For example, should amusement parks be considered cultural and educational businesses? Chang does not think so but says that the National Museum of Natural Science and the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium ought to be included as such businesses, and says that different types of businesses should have different age standards.
Since the regulation does not stipulate that a private business would be fined if they failed to offer children discounts because the business could not afford to do so, and they cannot force a business to offer discounts either, the government can only persuade and encourage businesses, both public and private, to offer discounts to children under a certain age.