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.

Unpacking the Colonialist Undertones of the Indigenous People’s Basic Law: Law as a Tool of Oppression in Taiwan

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.

Combatting Human Trafficking during Republican China

Written by Bonny Ling. One of the most interesting chapters in the history of modern China and international law is the vibrant and dynamic engagement of the Republican Chinese government with the League of Nations, the intergovernmental precursor to the United Nations, to address the exploitation of women for prostitution, known then as the “traffic in women.” It is an overlooked prologue that provides the historical context for efforts by successive governments on both sides of the Strait to combat exploitation. This issue remains just as relevant today as it did close to a century ago.

Every Journey Begins with a Single Step: Taiwan’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights

Written by Bonny Ling. Last year, on Human Rights Day marking the adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December by the UN General Assembly, Taiwan’s executive branch of the government (Executive Yuan 行政院) released the Taiwan National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) (臺灣企業與人權國家行動計畫). The Action Plan was celebrated, with Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) enthusiastically describing it as “aid[ing] Taiwan’s efforts to become integrated in international trade and supply chains.”

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.

Making Narrative out of History: Green Island and the White Terror

Written by Shawna Yang Ryan. Green Island, part of the archipelago of Taiwan, lies roughly 33 kilometres off Taiwan’s east coast. During Taiwan’s martial law period, this was a notorious prison for political prisoners. In my novel, Green Island, the narrator’s father is imprisoned by the KMT for advocating democracy during the transition to KMT rule. Still, the title also functions as a metaphor for Taiwan itself during the martial law era. 

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.

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.

Music as Political Commitment: The Reception of Pablo Casals in Taiwan before the 1970s

Written by Min-Erh Wang. Historical musicologists focus on studying Western classical music written by Western or Western-trained composers, while ethnomusicologists primarily concentrate on traditional and vernacular music research. Against this background, music scholars in Taiwan tend to pay attention to the musical works and composers or the cultures of traditional genres, such as nanguan and the music of aboriginal people, while leaving the reception of Western classical music overlooked. However, from the late nineteenth century onwards, Western classical music has deeply rooted in Taiwan as well as other East Asian countries as part of the modernisation agenda. Furthermore, during the Cold War, Western classical music was adopted by both the US and Soviet Russia to disseminate their influence over Third World countries.

Victims without Perpetrators: Slovakia’s and Taiwan’s Lack of Retributive Justice

Written by Dominika Remžová. Despite the recent 228 Incident commemoration, along with the latest exonerations of White Terror political victims, the lack of retributive justice from criminal trials or other perpetrator-focused measures remains the case in Taiwan. In fact, the legality of the only perpetrator-focused act related to the KMT’s party assets has been continually contested by the party, despite the ruling of the Council of Grand Justices that upheld the constitutionality of the act’s provisions. A similar lack of retributive justice occurred in another country with a recent authoritarian past, Slovakia

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.”

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