Tai­wan pol­i­tics made sim­ple

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Tai­wan is a fab­u­lous place full of rich cul­tures and the kind­est of peo­ple. As an ex­pat in the ru­ral town of Beigang, Yun­lin County, I’ve had the priv­i­lege to meet all kinds of peo­ple from ru­ral Tai­wan. The peo­ple there went so far out of their way to help me and make me feel com­fort­able and wel­come in a land so far from home.

In Beigang, aside from be­ing helped to get my en­tire life set up as far as trans­porta­tion, food, living etc., I was in­vited to go on camp­ing trips to Tainan, va­ca­tions to Taipei, Mazu pa­rades and fes­ti­vals, Chi­nese New Year cel­e­bra­tions, Moon Fes­ti­val bar­be­cues, and so many more ex­cit­ing cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences! The peo­ple here are truly some of the kind­est I have run into in my life. I was for­tu­nate to have friends living in Kaoh­si­ung, which was an area that I vis­ited fre­quently and thor­oughly en­joyed.

The city was very busy and al­ways full of life. The night mar­kets there, as well as in Taipei, were an ex­pe­ri­ence in them­selves! The foods were full of fla­vor and va­ri­ety and the shop­ping for trin­kets and spe­cialty items kept me com­ing back of­ten! The big cities are very dif­fer­ent from the ru­ral town of Beigang, not see­ing the farm­ers work­ing in the fields and the pace was just slower in gen­eral. That be­ing said, one of my very fa­vorite places to visit was Kent­ing and the en­tire south­west­ern coast.

There I ex­pe­ri­enced gor­geous hikes through un­touched moun­tains, beau­ti­ful beaches, and fan­tas­tic abo­rig­i­nal cui­sine and cul­ture. I learned all about all kinds of abo­rig­i­nal tra­di­tions, got to pur­chase abo­rig­i­nal clothes and tools, and so much more. The lo­cal peo­ple there were truly living a dif­fer­ent and amaz­ing life­style, with all kinds of hand- crafted cook­wear, bed­ding, jew­elry, head­wear, hunt­ing tools and more.

Trav­el­ing Tai­wan is some­thing that I rec­om­mend to ev­ery per­son that may have the op­por­tu­nity. It is one of the safest, friendli­est coun­tries I have had the op­por­tu­nity to visit, and trav­el­ing around the is­land ex­poses you to an un­speak­able amount, even though there isn’t all that much land to cover. Tai­wan will for­ever have my heart, and I will never for­get what I learned there, and what I was able to be a part of as an English teacher there.

Ifirst came to Tai­wan from the UK over ten years ago and only had a vague idea about the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Tai­wan. My po­lit­i­cal lean­ings back home were left of cen­ter and I was led to un­der­stand that maybe the Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party (DPP), the name stand­ing for a demo­cratic party, would have sim­i­lar val­ues. How wrong I was!

It was only through sev­eral years of changes in gov­ern­ment here that I be­gan to re­al­ize that the only party that had more of an in­ter­na­tional out­look, was less in­su­lar in ap­proach, had in fact changed ma­jor poli­cies re­gard­ing im­mi­gra­tion, and made it a lit­tle bit eas­ier visa-wise was the other party, the Kuom­intang (KMT) — a key is­sue re­gard­ing for­eign­ers.

They ap­peared to be more “for­eigner friendly” if you like; even so, I can­not re­mem­ber any ma­jor politi­cian speak­ing out for the rights of over­seas con­tract work­ers, for ex­am­ple. Even worse, years later I dis­cov­ered that even tax pay­ers who have per­ma­nent res­i­dent sta­tus can­not vote. There­fore, peo­ple who haven’t got a voice tend to ig­nore lo­cal pol­i­tics and do not bother to at­tempt to un­der­stand the nu­ances.

How­ever, the main prob­lems lie in the fact that be­fore any elec­tion th­ese par­ties do not pub­lish de­tailed man­i­festos in the me­dia as can be wit­nessed in the UK with the up­com­ing gen­eral elec­tion. At first, I be­lieved the English lan­guage press in Tai­wan didn’t bother to trans­late the poli­cies but then through dis­cus­sion dis­cov­ered that even Tai­wanese lo­cals hadn’t got a clue re­gard­ing the par­ties’ agen­das!

It is here that the con­fu­sion lies. We know the stance re­gard­ing main­land China, and are in fact fed up of read­ing about it, but the gen­eral public needs to know what the pro­pos­als are on the health ser­vice, econ­omy, ed­u­ca­tion and other key is­sues. In depth cost aims for the fu­ture needed to be pub­lished and made avail­able to ev­ery voter as in a ma­ture democ­racy even though as we all know they all will wig­gle out of the prom­ises even­tu­ally!

Above all, it is time that politi­cians worked for the public good rather than to fur­ther their own ca­reers and stop this tit-for-tat ar­gu­ing be­tween green and blue here. Maybe a move to a par­lia­men­tary sys­tem would go some way to achiev­ing this, but don’t hold your breath.

The Min­istry of La­bor (MOL) wants to al­low el­i­gi­ble mi­grant work­ers in Tai­wan to ap­ply for per­ma­nent res­i­dence as part of its ef­forts to in­crease the coun­try’s work­force. Depend­ing on their qual­i­fi­ca­tions and skills, for­eign blue-col­lar em­ploy­ees who have been work­ing in the coun­try for a cer­tain pe­riod of time would soon be el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply for a new type of per­ma­nent res­i­dence. Ac­cord­ing to the MOL, how­ever, this new work per­mit would be dif­fer­ent from the Alien Per­ma­nent Res­i­dent Cer­tifi­cate (APRC) granted to for­eign pro­fes­sion­als. But what do you think?

Why don’t you share some com­ments about your work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in Tai­wan to be pub­lished in next week’s PrimeTalk? Send sub­mis­sions to com­mu­nity@chi­na­post.com.tw and in­clude your real name, na­tion­al­ity, con­tact num­ber, some pho­tos and a pro­file. Spec­ify “Eye on Tai­wan” in the sub­ject line and en­sure your sub­mis­sion is be­tween 300 and 500 words. Writ­ers whose pieces are se­lected for pub­li­ca­tion will re­ceive one month’s free sub­scrip­tion to The China Post.

Pete M. Jones con­sid­ers it im­por­tant for

all Tai­wan cit­i­zens

to know the de­tailed pro­pos­als of politi­cians be­fore they vote.

Tay­lor Steed

shares her jour­neys

and thoughts about trav­el­ing in

Tai­wan, a beau­ti­ful,

warm and col­or­ful

land.

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