Offering bilingual warning signs in Vietnamese stirs 歧視?服務? 三重禁丟垃圾告示 加註越南文

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 - Page 11

If you had looked carefully at a public warning sign hanging at the corner of an alley off Sanhe Rd in New Taipei City’s Sanchong District that says “illegal dumping prohibited” in Chinese earlier this year, you would have also noticed that it had also been translated into a foreign language — a rare “Chinese-Vietnamese version.” Some Vietnamese spouses in the area thought that the sign singled them out and was racially discriminatory. The local borough chief, however, says that the sign was entirely appropriate and could only have had the positive effect of spreading the message since there is a large Vietnamese community in the area. However, the Sanchong District Office removed the sign on Jan. 7 to avoid any potential conflict.

The district’s cleaning team says that the illegal dumping of garbage had been a serious problem two or three years back, making the area very unsanitary and messy. On one occasion, a garbage collector discovered a Vietnamese woman throwing garbage bags away against one of the walls running along Guang Rong Elementary School. He says that after taking into consideration that the majority of foreign spouses belong to disadvantaged families, he could not bear to fine her the first time and hoped to give her a chance to redeem herself, so he had her help him translate the warning sign into Vietnamese. The collector claims the sign was only meant to communicate a simple message about keeping the environment clean and that he had no ill intentions.

A Vietnamese woman surnamed Chen says that when she first saw the sign translated into Vietnamese and not English, Indonesian, Thai or some other language, she felt a bit disturbed by it and thought to herself, “Is it possible that only Vietnamese are unsanitary?” Chen also says that she learned some simple Chinese prior to coming to Taiwan, so it was not necessary to translate the sign in the first place. “It makes me feel as though I’m being discriminated against,” she says.

Wanshou Borough Chief Wang Yuan-tsan says that there is a relatively high percentage of Vietnamese immigrants living in the area, so having signs translated into Vietnamese is meant to help them better understand things and be informative. The sign obviously served its intended purpose since the amount of illegal dumping significantly decreased in the area, he says. Wang hopes that local residents do not misinterpret the original good intentions of the district office.

The number of new immigrant families in New Taipei City is actually on the rise, and to meet the demands of the growing immigrant population, some government agencies have adjusted how they operate in order to offer multilingual services. The Sanchong District Household Registration Office, for example, provides application forms in Vietnamese, Thai and Indonesian for people wanting to get married or divorced, and after the person applying fills out the appropriate form, employees go a step further and offer a clear explanation of the application process. They also provide pamphlets in Vietnamese, Indonesian and Thai for new mothers to reduce the difficulty foreigners may have communicating with public organizations.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)

新北市三重區三和路的巷口懸掛兩面「嚴禁丟垃圾」的告示牌,仔細瞧,其中一面以外文書寫,是罕見的「中越對照版」,部份越南籍配偶認為有「針對性」,涉有種族歧視。不過,當地里長認為,附近越籍族群龐大,能達到正面宣導效果,並無不妥。區公所為避免爭議,一月七日已拆除。

三重區清潔隊解釋,大約兩、三年前,此處常遭人亂丟垃圾,淪為髒亂點,某次清潔隊員執勤時,發現一名越籍婦人拎著垃圾包,丟棄於光榮國小圍牆邊,顧及外籍配偶多半為弱勢家庭,不忍第一時間開罰,希望給予改過自新的機會,於是請她協助翻譯告示牌內容,公告於現址,宣導環境清潔事宜,絕無惡意。

越籍配偶陳小姐說,看到告示牌上只寫越南文,而非英文、印尼文、泰文或其他異國語言,有些不舒服,她心想,「難道越南人特別不衛生嗎」?陳小姐說,其實來台灣之前,都已學習簡易中文,告示牌內容不需翻譯,他們也看得懂,「這麼做感覺被歧視」。

萬壽里里長王淵贊說,附近越籍新住民比例相當高,告示牌翻譯成越文,猜想是讓她們容易明瞭,達到宣導作用,事實證明,近來亂丟垃圾情況確實有減少,當初區公所應是立意良善,希望民眾不要過度解讀。

事實上,新北市新住民家庭不斷攀升,部份公務機關因應新住民需求,也進行業務調整,提供多國語言服務。以三重戶政事務所為例,辦理結婚或離婚登記時,提供越南文、泰文、印尼文等表格文件,當事人填寫後,由工作人員進一步說明解釋;此外,櫃檯也放置越南、印尼、泰國等多國語言媽媽手冊,減少外籍人士洽公的不便。

(自由時報記者賴筱桐)