Fri, Apr 13, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Ministry under pressure after Jacqueline Liu case

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is under pressure to review its employment system for foreign housekeepers employed at the homes of diplomats stationed overseas after several flaws were exposed in a recent case involving a senior diplomat.

Jacqueline Liu (劉姍姍), former director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kansas City, Missouri, who pleaded guilty in the US to charges of labor fraud in connection with her mistreatment of two Filipino housekeepers in November last year, was impeached by the Control Yuan over her behavior on Tuesday.

Liu was also found by the Control Yuan to have engaged in irregularities by hiring a Chinese woman as a housekeeper and deceiving the ministry over the matter.

Ger Yeong-kuang (葛永光), a Control Yuan member in charge of the case, said the incident was not an isolated event because it showed that the ministry is unfamiliar with labor laws in foreign countries and has been lax in overseeing the reimbursement process for overseas-based diplomats who hire foreign housekeepers.

Examples in Liu’s case included the fact that the ministry did not know that Liu’s second Filipino maid had been paid well below the US minimum wage of US$1,240 a month and it did not know of the existence of a letter in which the maid agreed to have US$790 deducted from her contractual pay of US$1,240, Ger said.

Ger said the ministry did not know US labor rules that no deductions of any nature should be taken from contractual pay except for room and board fees, and that deduction should not exceed 20 percent of the salary.

Meanwhile, ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) said the Chinese woman hired by Liu as her housekeeper between September and November last year “did not have access to any classified information,” dismissing concerns raised by the Control Yuan in its impeachment statement.

Along with the fact that the Chinese maid was allowed to connect her computer to the router on Liu’s secure telephone line, the Control Yuan said her hiring and Liu’s failure to conduct a pre-employment background check raised serious concerns over possible leaks of national security information.

The ministry had asked security experts to investigate the case and check the telephone line, and they found that the Chinese national could not have decrypted information sent through the secure telephone line, Chang said.

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