Crime and foreigners

Well, this isn’t encouraging. The first concrete action which has been linked to Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) attempt to focus on crime has been taken by the CLA:

Companies and individuals who illegally hire foreign nationals will see their potential financial risks multiply five times starting next month, announced the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) yesterday.

Kuo Fang-yu, director-general of the CLA Employment and Vocational Training Administration who accompanied Lee to the Legislative Yuan, told reporters that there were concerns about the illegal workers resorting to crime.

“If these workers encounter problems and are not able to sustain themselves, they may resort to extreme measures such as robbery or other criminal activity,” Kuo said.

As the (very good) China Post article points out most of the illegal workers in Taiwan are young Filipino women who are hired as domestic helpers – given that they are much much more likely to be the victims of crime rather than the perpetrators Kuo’s justifications don’t make sense, and carry a rather unpleasantly racist undertone. Either Kuo just thinks the ‘crime crackdown’ is a convenient excuse to implement his policies, or he thinks that those dirty foreigners make a convenient scapegoat for Taiwan’s problems with crime.

To be clear, Taiwan does have a problem with illegal overseas workers – with an estimated 20,000 people (mainly from Southeast Asia) working illegally – but this problem is caused by rules imposed by the CLA which encourage exploitation of the workers. A situation which has just been exasperated by this new move. This is nothing new though – the problem is legislation dating back to 1999; this article from three years ago describes the very reasonable demands by foreign workers:

“The first is asking the CLA to re-include foreign workers under the protection of the Labor Standard Law (勞動基準法); the second is to remove the current employment agency system and replace it with a direct employment system to end agency-fee exploitation; the third is to set up a regulation to enforce time off for these workers. Lastly, we are asking for the right to switch employers freely.”

The Hope Workers’ Center was founded to assist needy foreign migrant workers in Taiwan. It helps more than 70,000 foreign workers a year.

According to O’Neil, in 1998 the CLA included foreign migrant workers in the Labor Standard Law, which aims to protect the basic rights of employees. For instance, the law specifies that the total number of working hours shall not exceed 48 per week, while overtime hours have to be strictly recorded and paid by employers.

“However, after foreign workers had been included in the law, employment agencies and employers started to file complaints about the hassle of keeping track of overtime hours and asked the CLA to exclude foreign workers from the law. As a result, in January 1999, foreign workers were once again deprived of their rights. Right now, there is no law to protect them at all.” O’Neil said.

8 thoughts on “Crime and foreigners

  1. hongkong rubber pork chop

    What did you expect, that the police would go out and arrest some gangsters?

  2. James

    Does bribing government officials in order to win a BOT bid count as a crime?

    If so, the possibility of the Su-led government confiscating the whole project and paying no compensation to the investors seems like a good way to end these ridiculous scandals.

  3. David

    hongkong rubber pork chop: Well I wasn’t expecting miracles, but equally I wasn’t expecting policies which will actively make the situation worse while scapegoating innocent people.

    James: Is bribing government officials a crime in Taiwan? It would be sooo easy to give you a cynical response there 🙂

    I’ve got a horrible feeling that there are going to be lengthy court battles over ETC.

  4. hongkong rubber pork chop

    I fully expected this to turn into an excuse for settling personal grudges, grinding some axes, and the collective shirking of duty. It’s the perfect opportunity for all of the above, not to mention the collection of more hongbao to leave the real criminals unmolested. Average Joe will be the one who suffers, and Su will take all the blame. Business as usual.

  5. James

    Sorry, that should have read, “does bribing government officials count as crime?” meaning, when people normally talk about crime, they mean public safety, and not accounting fraud, bribery, etc.

    But yes, I’m sure it counts as _a_ crime, though the enforcement makes it seem like it doesn’t =).

  6. dass

    to governmen crime in taiwan is so famouse.why??in my opponion thats is onli local people was doin not the foreing people do.if forien people do you must excuse him/her.all this happen because of local peole.

  7. angel

    hai,im angel.the purpose im write the comment becauseof the drug in taiwan is to famouse….why?because of money,medition,healty, taiwan is one of the drug famouse country in the world.and the drug is very importan in taiwan because of some advantage.this medition can cure for patient like canser,diabeties and serious sick.while the drug like herion,kokein and etc,is very needed in taiwan not onli in taiwan but also in thailand,uk,and some of the country.

  8. Pingback: Politics from Taiwan » Human trafficking in Taiwan

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