Sight and Sound: Conversations on Death Penalty between Taiwan and Southeast Asia

Written by Kar-Yen Leong. In an article by Franklin Zimring and David Johnson, we are reminded of the importance of studying the death penalty in Asia as it is the site of “…at least 85 per cent and as many as 95 per cent of the world’s execution.” The authors add that the region is a key battleground as to whether this practice will continue or become a remnant of a less civilised past. This struggle is no more intense than in East and Southeast Asian states, where the death penalty is not only an indelible part of only their legal systems but also their very societies. The decision to retain or abolish the death penalty has become a matter of intense soul-searching among states such as Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia, navigating landscapes replete with ghosts of colonial and authoritarian pasts. For these countries, the state’s power over life and death is a direct extension of its sovereignty. Giving up this power is to lose that sovereignty, but it also means the loss of a weapon of last resort forged to keep the forces of chaos at bay.

Roots and Routes in the Malay World and Beyond: Dialogues Between Singapore and Taiwan

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.

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.”

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.

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. 

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.

Taiwan’s New South Bound Policy 2.0: Fine-Tuning in 2022

Written by Raian Hossain. Apart from South Asia, the role of cultural exchange between ROC and all New Southbound countries needs to be emphasised further. Exchange of cultural activities such as film or food (cuisine) festivals would be good to create bondage among the people of Taiwan and New Southbound countries. Also, environmental and climate change are pressing non-traditional security aspects that might create further cooperation ground between ROC and New Southbound countries. Like how the Tsai government is committed to domestic green energy, ROC should share such ideas and efforts among New Southbound countries

Embracing Taiwan in Vietnamese Media

Written by Huynh Tam Sang and Tran Hoang Nhung. Taiwan’s popular culture—actors, idols, music, and dramas, usually known as the “Taiwanese Waves,” has gained popularity on Vietnamese media sites. The 2004—2008 period saw a boom of Taiwanese idol dramas, e.g. “It Started with a Kiss, 2005” (惡作劇之吻), “The Prince Who Turns into a Frog, 2005” (王子變青蛙), “The Tricks of Boys and Girls, 2006” (花樣少年少女), “My Lucky Star, 2007” (放羊的星星), screened on Vietnam’s TV channels. Taiwan’s singers and bands, e.g., F4, 183 Club, 7 Flowers, S.H.E, Jay Chou, were once familiar among Vietnamese youths.

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.

Synergies Between Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy and Biden’s Free and Open Indio-Pacific Strategy

Written by Grace Faerber. The Biden administration is strengthening its recognition of the strategic importance of Taiwan to the FOIP, the greatest indicator being the appointment of Sandra Oudkirk as Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de-facto U.S. embassy in Taipei. Director Oudkirk previously served as a Senior Official for APEC at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (APEC’s member countries include the nations of Australasia and ASEAN).

Why Is the Revitalisation of Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy So Pressing?

Written by Huynh Tam Sang. Adopted by President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016, the New Southbound Policy (NSP) has helped fortify Taiwan’s international standing and promoted the spirit of “Taiwan helps Asia, and Asia helps Taiwan.” In recent years, the NSP has facilitated Taiwan’s participation in the Indo-Pacific society. At the same time, they ensure that Taiwan could get on board with other regional and middle powers, like China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Australia, which have been forging their ties with Southeast Asian countries. 

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