Discrimination, sexual harassment and difficult working conditions experienced by foreign workers and spouses have become an acute social problem, Lorna Kung (
"Discrimination against people from Southeast Asia is a prevailing phenomenon," said Kung, who has been involved in foreign labor affairs for years and is the former director of the Taipei City Government's Foreign Workers Consulting Center (FWCC).
On weekends, many Filipino and Indonesian workers gather at the Catholic Fu Jen University, chatting and singing songs.
"These black people speak strange languages, making sounds like this, `wa-la-wa-la,'" said a passing student with contempt. "They are noisy and dangerous."
Widespread discrimination caused by the quest for economic development reflects that people in Taiwan lack understanding and respect for foreign cultures, Kung said.
Sexual harassment and assault on female domestic assistants are other serious problems, and the FWCC has to deal with at least one case a month, Kung said.
"Unlike workers in factories, female domestic assistants work in rather isolated places," she said. "Therefore, they are exposed to more dangerous situations where the government is less able to help."
Kung said the immigration administration proposed by the Executive Yuan is "a good thing" for solving some problems, but discrimination can only be eradicated by the nationwide education of nationals.
In a bid to let it function better, the government should give its future immigration administration more discretionary powers and allow it to be independent, Kung said.
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