Written by Doris Yang. In 2021, five artists/researchers from Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan gathered to present their project, The Malay World Project: Roots & Routes, in an online event held by Taipei Performing Arts Center. This event was inspired by a research project asking, ‘Where do the Malays originate?’ Not only did the project study the diaspora of Malay peoples around the Asia-Pacific, but it also created a space for dialogue between Taiwan’s Indigenous people and Malay in Singapore and Malaysia on the issues of identity and belonging. This article compares the advocacy experiences of Malay people in Singapore and Indigenous people in Taiwan. I argue that there is space to foster additional connections and collaborations between the civil societies among these two groups.
Category: South East Asia
Why Should Taiwan’s Civil Society Raise Its Focus on Southeast Asia and Forge Concrete Collaborations?
Written by Liang Liang. Like most once-colonised countries, Taiwan has experienced a chequered history. However, the unique part of Taiwan, which may not be so similar to the rest of the world, is that the historical remnant has resulted in its awkward (but de facto independent) status, hence making Taiwan a coveted land to China. As a result, Taiwan has been identified as the “canary in the monetary coal mine” globally when China’s sharp power grows unprecedentedly. While Taiwan gradually receives interest from all over the world, including Southeast Asia, “the world” used to signify only China and the United States to the Taiwanese government and society. Located at the crossroads of Northeast and Southeast Asia and frequently using the slogan “The Heart of Asia” in its global tourism advertisements, it had, however, rarely shared the same interests and consciousness with its southern neighbours.
The Many Faces of the Hokkien-language Internet
Written by Sam Robbins. This linguistic transnationalism has never died. In the digital era, online content distinctly aimed at promoting Taiwanese Hokkien within Taiwan abounds, but there is also a wide range of content created by communities interested in Hokkien generally. Hokkien-speaking populations across national borders also found each other and formed groups on social media. They share, remix, and collate content in these spaces rather than promote particular types of language use. For example, “Min Peoples, Min Languages” (閩人閩語), a Facebook group with almost 20,000 members from Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and China, is dedicated to “sharing everything relating to Southern Min (folk) culture, (folk) songs, and Southern Min languages.”
The Changing role of Laotian Coffee in Taiwan
Written by Chen Szu-An, Translated by Sam Robbins. According to data from the Lao Coffee Association, Taiwan was one of the earliest to enter the Laotian market and invest in coffee production after the government allowed foreign investment in the year 2000. There was even a period where some in Taiwan dreamed of becoming a major player in the development of Laotian coffee. In contrast with the Laotian beans that were first imported to Taiwan as cheap goods, as Taiwanese consumers became more accepting of the idea of “specialty coffee”, Taiwanese business people started to repackage Laotian beans.
TAKING A LEAF OUT OF TAIWAN (AND VIETNAM): HOW “TAIWANESE” IS TAIWANESE BUBBLE TEA?
Written by Kuan-Ren Yun (雲冠仁), translated by Sam Robbins. As Bubble tea has taken over the world and increasingly become a symbol of Taiwan, this unique Taiwanese flavour has only been possible by importing large qualities of tea leaves, including the Vietnamese tea leaves that so many Taiwanese have grown sceptical of. Taiwanese people have felt pride in the success of bubble tea sales, but they also continue to reject foreign tea leaves and see them as only authentic when only Taiwanese tea leaves are used.
Taking a leaf out of Taiwan (and Vietnam): How “Taiwanese” is Taiwanese bubble tea?
Written by Kuan-Ren Yun (雲冠仁), translated by Sam Robbins. When I was in Vietnam from 2016 to 2018, there was a time of immense market transformation underway that raised a very interesting question: The now-famous “Taiwanese bubble tea” had become reliant on Vietnamese tea leaves in Taiwan, and it was only after the transition to Vietnamese tea leaves was made could Taiwanese bubble tea be produced at such a scale to become a global phenomenon.
Global Britain Goes to Southeast Asia: Investment Flows in an Era of Great Power Competition
Written by Guanie Lim and Xu Chengwei. In March 2021, the UK government published the ‘Global Britain in a Competitive Age’ report. Amongst other things, it sets out the UK’s four key objectives: upholding an international order supportive of liberal democratic values; contributing to the security of this order; building greater global resilience to the impacts of climate change, health insecurity, and related challenges; and pursuing an international economic agenda that strengthens the UK’s global competitiveness and supports the welfare of its citizens. One of the most practical measures to achieve such goals is to channel foreign direct investment (FDI) to outward-oriented economies, not least those with potentially enormous upside. Boasting the fifth-largest economic output in the world and a very favourable demography, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must figure prominently in the calculus of UK policymakers.
A plant out of water: Taiwanese greens in Thailand
Written by Angel Chao （趙于萱）, translated by Sam Robbins. In supermarkets in Thailand, you can find Thai hydroponic vegetables labelled as ‘Taiwanese greens.’ Why? Because these plants are grown in Thailand by Taiwanese businesspeople who brought Taiwanese hydroponic technology to Thailand, using Taiwanese equipment to grow crops in Thailand.
Falling Through the Cracks of Care: Southeast Asian Migrant Workers Navigating Through Healthcare in Taiwan
Written by Shao-Yun Chang (張韶韻) and Hang-Tang Chen (陳翰堂). Since their labour was first viewed as a supplement to the domestic labour market, Southeast Asian migrants have become indispensable to the manufacturing, agricultural, fishing, and care industries over the last three decades. While the initial foreign population was primarily Thai and Filipino workers, Vietnamese and Indonesian workers are now taking over factory jobs, farm work, and caring for seniors and the disabled.
Cultivating Support from a Distance: The Transnational Activism of Taiwan Alumni Associations in Southeast Asia
Written by Ratih Kabinawa. Since Tsai Ing-wen won power in 2016, Taiwan has experienced increased international isolation. Beijing stepped up its offensive policy toward Taiwan by blocking Taipei’s participation in international forums, for example, in the WHA, WHO, and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The PRC also exercised its dollar diplomacy to push Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies to switch recognition from Taiwan to China. As a result, during Tsai’s first term (2016-2020), Taiwan lost its major diplomatic allies, leaving the country with only thirteen diplomatic allies. Consequently, the Taiwanese government has looked to overseas communities to enhance its image and visibility, including Taiwan alumni associations. The Tsai administration has given these overseas communities a significant role under Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (NSP).
Salivating Sales: Ethnic Chinese Malaysians and the Edible Bird’s Nest Industry.
Written by Yu-an Kuo 郭育安, translated by Sam Robbins. Despite being a common food in Taiwan, Taiwan’s climate makes it unsuitable for cultivating edible birds nest. Consumption of edible birds nest in Taiwan can be traced back over 200 years, but this consumption has always relied on imports. The product’s history in Taiwan is tied to the history of Dihua street in Taipei, which developed towards the end of the Qing dynasty. This street became a main sight for the selling of exported “Chinese goods” (華貨）in Taiwan, including Ginseng, Jujubees, louts seeds and shark fins. Official statistics suggest that Taiwan currently imports over 10 tonnes over birds nest each year, with over 90% being imported from Indonesia. However, this number is likely unreliable since the illegal smuggling of birds nest remains a constant problem in Taiwan.
How did Malaysia and Taiwan respond to Covid-19? Part II: Pandemic’s Impact on Economy
Written by K. Thiruchelvam. Our earlier article described how governments in Malaysia and Taiwan have responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic on their health systems. We identified common themes from both countries’ responses to the pandemic and acknowledged the importance of public sector capacities and capabilities in shaping and steering them. This second part of the article will describe how governments in Malaysia and Taiwan have responded to the challenges of the pandemic in their economic sector.