Written by Aaron Chen. In May 2021, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court considered a high-profile case concerning indigenous hunting rights. First opened in 2013, the Bunun man, Tama Talum, had been convicted for violating the Wildlife Conservation Act, which limited indigenous poaching to solely ceremonial activities. He was also prosecuted under the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act, legislation that only allowed indigenous peoples to hunt using homemade weapons, whilst Tama Talum did otherwise.
Written by Brett Todd. Amidst the upheavals of this pandemic period, few would recall that 2019 was the International Year of Indigenous Languages, and fewer still realise that the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032 is about to commence. Both were declared by the UN General Assembly, a space in which Taiwanese voices are not heard. However, Taiwanese Indigenous representatives have participated in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), which joined UNESCO in calling for urgent action to arrest the declining use of native tongues worldwide.
Written by Chen Jie (陈杰). There are remaining concerns urging the government of democratised Taiwan to support democratic causes and human rights in China. In fact, for the Tsai Ing-wen administration, these issues have strengthened. Despite their disdain for the one China project, politicians of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) share the sentiment that Taiwan’s own democratisation inspires China. This is echoed internationally. The former US Vice President Mike Pence spoke positively about Taiwan’s “embrace of democracy” and the example it had set for “all the Chinese people.”
Written by Susan Shih Chang. On the government’s side, the Museum Act has become a mechanism for exercising power through specific forms of knowledge and expertise; a technology that shapes society’s thoughts and understanding toward culture. On the applicant’s side, although the local government has control in the process of applying for the registration of a private museum, intentions and understanding from the private museum owners and their interaction with the public sector have added a new dimension and layer to the meaning and means of museums.
Written by Kuoyu Wang. The most important questions to be answered are the following. Is independent living actually suitable for Taiwan? Moreover, does independent living mean that the state rather than the family should bear the burden of providing care? If independent living is a right of people with disabilities, should it be satisfied through a generally designed service system or a totally customised system with an individual framework? Should there be a limit to the rights fully provided by the state?
Written by Heng-Hao Chang. After the transition to democracy in the 1990s, all aspects of Taiwanese society changed very quickly, as did the approach to disability rights. The accessibility of public transportation certainly allowed more disabled people to participate in society. The ongoing long-term care policy also covered people with disabilities who needed long-term care. The ratification of the CRPD and international review gave civil society, Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), and the government a chance to enter into dialogue and collectively evaluate current policies and practices, including social and cultural challenges.
Written by Bonny Ling. On 28 January 2021, public prosecutors in Taichung indicted four individuals on charges of human trafficking, violations of the Employment Services Act and forgery of documents for their role in exploiting Vietnamese migrant workers in Taiwan. The four involved worked at the Hong Yu Employment Service Agency Company (弘宇人力仲介公司) in Taichung to recruit migrant workers from Vietnam. Established in 2017, Hong Yu placed 126 Vietnamese migrant workers in the construction sector around Taiwan from July 2018 to August 2020.
Written by Elsa Sichrovsky. Due to Taiwan’s geographically strategic position in Southeast Asia and proximity to the Golden Triangle of the heroin trade, it has had a long relationship with narcotics, dating back to opium smoking in the Qing dynasty. In the 1800s, the opium trade thrived following the Opium Wars in China, bringing in more than half of Taiwan’s revenue by 1892. During the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945), the Japanese established an opium monopoly in Taiwan which benefited them economically while they maintained an appearance of opposition to opium smoking. Through sales to hospitals and pharmaceutical companies around the world, opium composed up to 46 per cent of yearly colonial income from Taiwan until 1904.
Written by Jason Chuah. Taiwan, with her economic strength in shipping, could perhaps be likened to a first-class marathon athlete running in the Olympics with flipflops unless it modernises its commercial maritime law. UNCTAD reports in its 2019 Shipping Outlook Report that Taiwan ranks 11 in terms of “ownership of world fleet ranked by dead-weight tonnage.” This is one place above the UK and only two places below the US. In terms of monetary value, it is ranked number seven in the world for ownership of bulk carriers (excluding oil tankers) and in the top 20 ship owning countries by value. Yang Ming and Evergreen are in the top 20 of terminal operators in the global league table.
Written by Bonny Ling. Since late-July 2020, a diplomatic row has embroiled the governments of Indonesia and Taiwan over who in principle should pay the cost of recruitment for low-skilled workers seeking jobs abroad. To date, the industry norm is that low-skilled migrant workers pay these fees of recruitment or placement to labour brokers in their home country, months before they begin their work and see their first pay. In order to secure a job abroad, many borrow heavily to pay for these recruitment costs upfront.
Written by Chinghui Liao. Hunting traditions are common across many indigenous communities in Taiwan, and maintaining food security has been an important cultural practice for thousands of years. Recently, however, certain endangered animal species have faced greater risk due to commercial hunting. These cases often involve indigenous communities, and this has made the issue difficult to resolve. In order to protect a functioning and biodiverse ecosystem, the “wildlife conservation law” regulates hunting behaviour and limits legal practise to only specific indigenous ceremonies.
Written by Yu-Hsien Sung and Chin-shou Wang. For many years, Taiwan has suffered from substantial amounts of corruption. The dominant political party used voting-buying machines to secure popular support and elicit cooperation from elites. Following the changes in the political environment during the democratization period, the old mechanisms gradually failed in their effectiveness. In recent global surveys on governance and corruption, Taiwan is considered as one of the best performers in the Asia-Pacific region. However, during the past year, several Taiwanese politicians and government officials were involved in bribery scandals.