Taiwan sends mixed messages to foreigners–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

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Summary: Taipei Mayor Ko joins opposition to NCC hearings on CTi TV news, which may be influenced by China’s United Front. Stimulus vouchers are to be given to APRC holders and diplomats. The Taiwan govt supports businesses over workers in Indonesian worker spat. And lots of headlines.

Headlines:

Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen held a press conference wearing a giant, fuzzy lion head that looked like it came from a halloween costume.
Three officials joined her, making for a thoroughly silly scene.
She had lost a bet that the Taichung-based CTBC Brothers baseball team would win the championship.
They lost to the Uni-President Lions, hence the silly lion head.

Deputy speaker of the legislature and Taichung lawmaker Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) on Clara Chou’s radio show said maybe when the time comes he’ll announce he’s running for mayor.
Speculation is that either he or former Taichung Mayor and current Transport Minister Lin Chia-lung will run under the DPP banner in 2022.

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has announced it is working on a draft amendment to explicitly list “torture” as an offense, to deter its use by police and law enforcement officers while questioning suspects.
Well, that seems like a good idea.
Currently the “abuse of power” and related offenses by public officials and the “use of violence to extract confession [leading to] an innocent person being prosecuted or punished” are banned, but not torture explicitly.

Around 40 independent bookstores shut for one day in protest of Singles’s Day online discount sales, which they said impact their business and chances of survival.
Singles’ Day originated in China, with the date Nov. 11 chosen because the date written out in numerals is four ones.
The inference is that ones look like sticks, and unlike trees don’t branch out–referring to growing the family tree.
The concept of this unofficial, but widespread, shopping holiday spread to Taiwan in recent years, with online outlets often offering discounts.

Formosa Automobile Sales Corp., a Formosa Plastics Group subsidiary that has been producing DAF trucks since 2005, is now developing batteries in house to launch production of its own electric trucks.
They are expected to hit the market in 2022.

Statistics released by the National Communications Commission (NCC) showed cable service subscriptions dropped to 4.89 million in the third quarter, down 1.96 percent annually.
The figure was the lowest recorded by the NCC since it started compiling cable industry statistics in 2011.
As a side note, cable used to be offered by local neighborhood providers armed with satellite dishes and VCRs playing movies and porn.
It was, of course, a total disregard for copyrights, but it sure was a lot more colourful.

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has announced that it is recruiting at least 20,000 volunteers to participate in second phase clinical trials of locally developed COVID-19 vaccines.
Three Taiwanese firms are expected to complete phase one testing of their vaccines in the coming days.
The CECC has launched a website with the aim of registering at least 20,000 volunteers by the end of November.
Foreign nationals with National Health Insurance cards can register, but the decision will be up to the companies themselves.

Foreign nationals who entered Taiwan on or before March 21 for visits and have been unable to return home because of COVID-19 can get another 30-day extension of stay, according to the National Immigration Agency (NIA).

In a first, representatives from a large American electronics company will visit Taiwan in a “business travel bubble” that allows them to skip the regular two-week quarantine.
Members of the delegation will be required to provide negative COVID-19 test results three days prior to their departure, must stick to offices and hotel rooms and will not be allowed to go sightseeing.

Australia’s Prime Minister says it is considering setting up a travel bubble with various nations that have handled the pandemic well.
Taiwan is on the list of potential countries.

Similarly, according to Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) Singapore has shown an interest in forming a travel bubble with Taiwan, adding that the government is in talks with Vietnam and Japan about similar deals.

Citing a surge in coronavirus cases, South Korea has been dropped from the list of countries from which business travelers can apply for shorter quarantine periods upon arrival in Taiwan.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States and Taiwan are scheduled to hold a dialogue on economic prosperity on Nov. 20, and State Department official Keith Krach will lead the meeting.
The Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue would include ensuring safe and secure supply chains and 5G security.
Pompeo said “The dialogue signifies that our economic relationship with Taiwan, a vibrant democracy and a reliable partner, is strong and growing.”
Vice Economics Minister Chen Chern-chyi (陳正祺) will lead a delegation to Washington to attend the meeting in person while other high-ranking government officials will participate online.

A virtual second round of the Taiwan-European Union (EU) Dialogue on Digital Economy is scheduled to be staged in December.
It will focus on issues concerning overall digital policy, data economics, information security certification, artificial intelligence and blockchain, among other topics.

Taipei Mayor Ko joins opposition to NCC on CTi

Taipei mayor and Taiwan People’s Party chair Ko Wen-je is accusing the DPP of “double standards” over the National Communications Commission (NCC) holding hearings over whether to renew the CTi News TV license when they have their own “media factions”.
He also took a trip with KMT Taipei City Councillor Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) on what a NOW News report referred to as a “press freedom bus”, which is I assume is a reference to buses with ads attacking the NCC hearings taken out by the KMT Institute of Revolutionary Practice, which Lo also heads.
When asked by press if there was a “Ko-Lo alliance”, Lo said that there wasn’t, but that if the Taiwan People’s Party didn’t run a candidate for mayor in 2022, the KMT and TPP could form an alliance.
Many, including myself, think Ko leans more pan-blue, or pro-KMT, than pan-green, or pro-DPP.
For background on the CTi issue, two shows ago, entitled To Want or not Want CTi as the NPP trips on itself I went into depth, including on concerns of Chinese influence on the news channel.

Stimulus vouchers to be given to APRC holders and diplomats

Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC) holders and foreign diplomats in Taiwan will be able to buy government economic stimulus vouchers starting Monday, Nov. 16.
11,621 APRC holders will be able to buy the vouchers, worth NT$3,000 (US$105.18) for NT$1,000 at post offices, but must present their APRC or National Health Insurance cards.
Another 1410 diplomats, NGO types and others can get their vouchers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
The deadline to use the vouchers is Dec. 31.
According to CNA, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that many of these 13,000 foreign nationals have deep connections and affection toward Taiwan, identify as Taiwanese, and/or have made significant contributions to the country, such as priests and ministers who have devoted their lives to serving the Taiwanese people.
In expanding the program, the government is thanking them for their contributions, he said.
It is good to hear that he is aware of that.
However, Su also said he expected that there will be high demand for the vouchers, citing the upcoming year-end shopping season such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
And he’s apparently not aware that we’re not all American Christians.
The expansion program will not cost the government extra money, as it has more than enough vouchers available.
Disappointingly, non-permanent residents are not included in the program, in spite of many making significant contributions to Taiwan and paying taxes.
Asked whether the principle of reciprocity was a consideration when changing the voucher eligibility rules, Executive Yuan spokesperson Evian Ting–who I’ll be talking a lot about in the next show–said that the inclusion of foreign diplomats and nationals is a friendly gesture by the government and also to promote Taiwan’s effective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Some nations have issued subsidies for foreign nationals with work visas, but policies vary from country to country, he said, adding that reciprocity was not a consideration.

Taiwan govt supports business in Indonesia worker spat

The Indonesian Economic and Trade Office in Taipei has sent a letter saying that from Jan. 1, Taiwanese employers would be required to pay 11 types of fees for Indonesian workers before they depart for Taiwan.
The 11 types of fees Taiwan businesses are being asked to cover include labour brokerage fees in Indonesia for caregivers, domestic workers and fishers; and the costs of labour contract verification, criminal records certificates, overseas social security premiums and overseas health checks, as well as transportation and accommodation in Indonesia prior to departure.
Reportedly, Indonesia is asking this of all countries that hire Indonesian workers.
Taiwan, however, is sticking to its stance that employers should not share recruitment costs for Indonesian migrant workers as Jakarta is demanding, and would consider bringing in workers from other countries instead, according to the Ministry of Labor (MOL).
The Taipei Economic and Trade Office, Jakarta has been asked to help arrange bilateral talks.
Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) noted that at the Taiwan-Indonesia Labor Conference in 2013, the two nations agreed that they must notify each other if they are to change their labor policy or system, and must reach a consensus through negotiations before any change is put in place.
“We cannot accept this,” she said, adding that if Indonesia goes ahead with the unilateral changes to the employment terms, the ministry would remind it that it should abide by the agreement reached at the conference.
She also said that although Jakarta has asked Taiwanese employers to pay the fees, it did not say how much extra the employers in Taiwan would have to pay.
I saw one estimate that it would raise costs to employers from NT$30,000 to NT$100,000, but I don’t know how accurate that is.
Of the 11 fees expected to be covered, nine seem pretty reasonable–though the added costs may encourage employers to look to other countries.
The two that aren’t as reasonable, unless they are structured as a set stipend or negotiated in advance, are the internal travel and accommodation within Indonesia, which is very open-ended.
In theory they could hire a private jet and stay in the swankiest hotel for weeks.
The other fees, however, are predictable and can be planned for.
The bigger problem is the brokerage system that requires the workers to go through brokers, who are often abusive and add extra fees of their own.
There is no rational need for them, either–with the internet direct employment by the hiring company could easily be done, no middleman required.
That would save everyone money, especially for the workers but also the employers and it would cut down on abuse and introduce transparency.
If the government is concerned about keeping tabs on what is going on, it would easy enough to set up an online platform to match employees with employers.
It could also be set up to ensure proper salary payments are made.
That decision could be made solely on the Taiwan side, and besides the cost savings all around it would improve Taiwan’s image internationally.

Image courtesy of Lu Shiow-yen’s Facebook page

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