Written by Hsiao-Chun Hung. Professor Robert (Bob) Blust was a world-renowned linguist whose contributions will be sorely missed by his many colleagues. Bob’s ideas sometimes provoked controversy. Small groups sometimes seek fleeting moments of fame in academia by targeting well-known scholars, often without sufficient or relevant supporting evidence. This approach attracts attention as a “newsworthy” difference of opinion, at least temporarily, until it can be dispelled. Facing such challenges, Bob consistently retained stoic confidence in his scientific methodology, regardless of the enthusiasm of his critics.
Saving an Ageing Industry by Employing Migrant Workers: The Legalisation of Agricultural Migrant Workers in Taiwan￼
Although 2022 may be seen as the continuation of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide, it has also marked the third year after Taiwan opened its agricultural labour market to Southeast Asian workers. It is widely known in Taiwan that small tenant farmers in the vegetable, fruit, and tea sectors and livestock farmers have been challenged by chronic shortages of seasonal labour.
Taiwan’s Migrant Workers Versus Labour Brokerage System
Written by Huynh Tam Sang and Wen-Chin Cheng. Taiwan’s labour brokerage system has made migrant workers vulnerable to a myriad of untransparent fees. Under the current system, migrant workers must pay hefty fees, including service fees and related pre-employment fees for migrant labour agencies or brokers, adding up to the total amount ranging from NT$60,000 to NT$200,000. To make matters worse, the current system has allowed brokers to charge migrant workers a monthly recurring fee, from NT$1,500 to NT$1,800. The “service fee”, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Labour, is used to arrange work and daily life for migrant workers. However, brokers or agencies charge employers “very few or no fees”, shifting the disproportionate financial burden onto migrant workers.
From Taiwan to Macau in 16 Years: A Domestic Worker’s Migration Biography
Narrated by Yosa Wariyanti, written by Isabelle Cheng. I have spent a total of 16 years abroad. When we return home, we have our savings, and we may open businesses. But businesses do not always go well. It is difficult for us to find jobs because we do not have good education or professional certificates. No one would hire us. Soon my daughter will go to university. I want to give her a good education. I need to work for at least another five years to pay for her tuition fees. So, I will just go on, and on, and on working abroad.
The “Lost Outlying Island” of the Tachen Diaspora
Written by Kai-yang Huang. As Taiwan’s identity debates are slowly eking towards a consensus, it is essential to also pay attention to the diverse marginal voices of the people of Taiwan. Thus, because discourse about Taiwan as a “maritime nation” is increasingly common, more attention has been paid to marine conservation—for example, the IOC established the Maritime Protection Agency and has preserved traditional fishing techniques (for example, the Marine Science Museum exhibits traditional Han fisheries). For the Tachen diaspora, the ocean has long been an important part of their customs and a poignant reminder of their forced migration from their homeland due to the Chinese civil war and their subsequent migration to the United States. Supposing that Taiwan perceives itself as a “maritime nation.” In that case, these narratives deserve a place in Taiwan’s modern historical understanding.
The Penghu Migrants Behind Kaohsiung’s Post-war Boom
Written by Tshinn-Hun Miguel Liou. Strictly speaking, there’s nothing inherent about the connection between the people of Kaohsiung and Penghu, and the route that many people from Penghu took from Kaohsiung was often more treacherous than the path for those emigrating within Taiwan. However, the consensus linking people from these two places should give pause for thought. So, why is Kaohsiung the first choice for people from Penghu who move to Taiwan?
A Wake-Up Call to Improve Factory Working Procedures in a Time of Crisis
Written by Chan-Yuan Wong, Ker-Hsuan Chien, and Mei-Chih Hu. As the world enters the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, Taiwan – previously acknowledged as a Covid-free nation – encountered a new outbreak in mid-May 2021. This wave of infection has been deemed critical, as the number of infection cases has surpassed 700, and the infectivity rate is as contagious as measles. To date, Taiwan encountered 635 death cases related to Covid-19 – of which 98% are attributed to the recent outbreak since 15 May 2021.
“Going to America”: An overview on Taiwanese Migration to the US
Written by Aspen Chen. The ostensible dearth of strong geographic, cultural, or political ties between the two places make the large-scale out-migration of Taiwanese to the US an interesting phenomenon: Why do so many Taiwanese immigrate to the US, and how has the pattern changed over time?
Not obedience but Dignity: A message from a former migrant worker
Written by Iweng Karsiwen and Ratih Kabinawa. Edited by Isabelle Cheng. A former domestic worker in Hong Kong for over ten years, Iweng Karsiwen is currently the Chair of Families of Indonesian Migrant Workers (Kabar Bumi). Initially she was recruited to work in Taiwan when the door opened for Indonesian women seeking domestic work there. However, instead of going to Taiwan, Iweng found herself arriving at a Hong Kong MTR station late one evening a year later. Knowing how the brokering industry functioned at home and abroad, after returning to Indonesia, Iweng was determined to help those who worked abroad and who faced similar challenges at various stage of their migration. She has particularly campaigned to outlaw salary reduction. This, as well as other practices mentioned by Iweng, are commonly adopted by brokers in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
Migrants’ Voice in Taiwanese Documentaries: Narrative, Language and Space
Written by Adina Zemanek and Lara Momesso. Since the early 2000s, immigrants from mainland China and Southeast Asia have been an increasingly visible component of Taiwan’s social and public landscape. As such, they have received growing recognition both in terms of legal provisions and in the public discourse. An example of this acknowledgement is the December 2019 issue of Taiwan Panorama, a promotional magazine issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Half of this issue is dedicated to highlighting migrants’ presence in Taiwan. One of the articles calls for listening to their unique life stories, which would have the transformative effect of understanding the world from a new perspective and dismantling preconceptions about Southeast Asian cultures.
Changing Circumstances Call for Taipei to Lift Its Effort in Promoting Democracy on China and beyond
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.”
The Fashioning of Filipino Community in Taiwan: OFW Beauty Pageants in the Era of Social Media
Written by Yi-Yu Lai. As an anthropologist who studies Indigenous movements in the Philippine highlands, my experiences of beauty pageants’ are not rare. The beauty pageant has been culturally entrenched in the Philippines and its diasporic communities for many decades. Because these contests are very popular with Filipinos, some Indigenous youth advocates use them as an instrument for cultural activism, empowering participants and attracting those who were previously indifferent to political issues. Nevertheless, the Filipino beauty pageants of Taiwan are quite different from those I previously experienced.