Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) on Thursday sought to assuage controversy over remarks he made about Filipino white-collar workers, saying that Taiwanese parents would need time to accept Philippine English teachers.
At a meeting of the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce in Taipei on Wednesday, Han said he feared that hiring educated employees from the Philippines “would cause a psychological shock for Taiwanese, because [they might wonder]: How come our ‘Maria’ has become a teacher?”
The term “Maria” is a slur widely used in Taiwan to refer to migrant workers, especially those working as a caregivers.
Han made the remark after a participant said that Kaohsiung’s lack of highly educated workers is the city’s biggest problem, especially middle and top-tier professionals who speak English and are internationally mobile.
The mayor should cooperate with the national government and local enterprises to bring in white-collar, English-speaking workers from the Philippines, the participant said.
Kaohsiung already has many highly educated residents, but the problem is a high outflow rate, at about 74 percent, Han said, adding that his administration has added NT$27 million (US$873,730) to the city’s original budget of NT$20 million for the implementation of bilingual education.
“This [pushing for bilingual education] is not easy due to the rural-urban disparity and the difficulty in finding foreign teachers,” he said, adding that Taiwan could learn from the Philippines, but parents must first be “mentally prepared.”
Han’s remarks drew an immediate backlash from netizens, who accused the mayor of discriminating against Filipinos.
A person’s value is not determined by their skin color, weight, appearance, gender, sexual orientation, occupation or nationality, said Chou Juo-chen (周若珍), a Japanese teacher.
The majority of Southeast Asian workers in Taiwan are employed in labor-intensive industries, but that does not mean that their countries do not have highly educated professionals, Chou said, calling Han’s comments “discriminatory and ignorant.”
In an attempt to assuage public criticism on Thursday, Han said that his comments were not meant to discriminate against Filipinos.
“We just have to figure out a way to mentally prepare the parents and [explain to them] why we do not look to the US or the UK” for English teachers, he said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) said on Facebook that the real problem is not “why Maria has become a teacher,” but rather that Taiwanese only want “cheap white-collar employees” from the Philippines.
“What the bosses care about is not professionalism, but low prices,” Lin said, adding that Taiwanese businesspeople have gone from asking for cheap blue-collar workers to cheap white-collar workers.
Foreigners “employed in specialized and technical” work and teaching jobs must earn at least NT$47,971 per month to qualify for a work permit, with some exceptions, the Workforce Development Agency says on its Web site.
The minimum monthly wage for Taiwanese is NT$23,100.
Additional reporting by staff writer
Taiwan might be China’s next target after it has “walled off” Hong Kong from the rest of the world with its new national security legislation, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) said on Thursday. At a seminar organized by the Economic Democracy Union, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Hong Kong Outlanders and the Judicial Reform Foundation, Wu said that the legislation is simultaneously a fig leaf concealing Beijing’s autocratic rule in Hong Kong and a figurative “Berlin Wall,” denying democratic countries access to Hong Kong. Wu said it is evident that Taiwan would be China’s next target. The
SAFETY CONCERNS: A construction company working nearby admitted to negligence in the incident, and is to pay a fine and other expenses related to damages Residents of homes adjacent to an alleyway in New Taipei City’s Yonghe District (永和) on Saturday were forced to evacuate their homes after the road collapsed, the New Taipei City government said yesterday. An 80m by 4m area in an alleyway on Wenhua Road (文化路) collapsed at 10:39am near an apartment building construction site where work was being done on the project’s foundation. The incident also ruptured an underground gas pipe and tilted several buildings in the area. Residents would not be able to return to their homes until tomorrow or Wednesday, when repairs are expected to be finished, the city government said. Workers
CHALLENGER DEEP: Lin Ying-Tsong was invited by Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo to join him on a 10-hour long trip in the company’s submersible Taiwanese-American Lin Ying-Tsong (林穎聰) last month became the first person from Asia and the 12th in human history to dive into the deepest part on Earth, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Lin, 45, an expert in deep sea acoustics with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, joined US adventurer and Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo, 54, on June 22 in a descent to the central pool of the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the trench, which lies at a depth of more than 10,900m. The pair made the descent in a submersible named Limiting Factor, a US$37
ARMS RACE: Two DPP lawmakers said that China’s development model differed from Taiwan’s, as it aims to become a global hegemon, while Taiwan seeks to protect itself Taiwanese national defense experts are split on how Taiwan should respond to the ever-growing budget of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with some advocating for Taiwan to increase defense spending, while others say that little can be done. The Legislative Yuan approved NT$358 billion (US$12.1 billion) for national defense spending across fiscal 2020, a 3.47 percent increase compared with last year, while China’s military budget this year is NT$5.4 trillion, more than 15 times that of Taiwan. Regardless of whether the government adopts a zero-based budgeting method for national defense spending — in which all expenses are justified and approved each