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Media columnist highlights Taiwan challenges, opportunities

Reporter Vivian Hsiao
Release time:2023/06/19 10:16
Last update time:2023/06/19 10:16
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TAIPEI (TVBS News) — Foreigners who come to Taiwan for travel are usually struck by the people's friendliness and the nation's beautiful scenery. However, like any other democracy, societal issues persist underneath the currents. 

Speaking to TVBS, long-time Taiwan resident, English teacher, and blogger of "The View from Taiwan," Michael Turton, shared his thoughts on Taiwan's 2030 bilingual nation goal, traffic conditions, and immigration policies. 

 

Having lived in Taiwan for 34 years and having taught English for some time, Turton believes the main obstacle to internationalization lies in the attitude of bureaucracy and "boss culture."

"Taiwanese English is good," he said, "but I don't think that's really the problem."

"The issue with the program is there's no reform of [the] educational system to support it." 
 

He pointed out the difficulty in adapting to Taiwan's work culture, adding that though many foreigners would gladly head to suburban areas such as Taitung or Pingtung to teach, they can't work there because the government insists that educators have certification from their own countries.

Meanwhile, as traffic conditions have worsened in recent years, with CNN citing Taiwan's streets as a "living hell for pedestrians," Turton believes an excellent way to reduce accidents in city centers is to remove vehicles from there altogether. 

He explained that some cities in the United States have already introduced this policy. As more and more people move out of cities due to the high living costs, the English teacher believes that removing cars would encourage people to come back in as they would be able to "move about safely."

"There'd be all kinds of interesting cafes and shops; everywhere this has happened, local businesses have gone up, and traffic safety has increased."

Since he first arrived in 1989, Turton had also started a family, recently remarrying a Filipino migrant worker in Taiwan.

However, the marriage process exposed the darker side of Taiwan's immigration policies. 

"Just to get married, we had to get some paperwork from the Philippines government that took months to come down, and then after we got married to get a visa, that was when things became really serious," he remarked. 
 

The couple faced various hurdles, from document certification to foreign ministries changing requirements, before finally getting married in Taiwan. 

Turton implied that the continuous back and forth may have been a deterrence to halt the process as foreigners married in Taiwan, holding a spouse visa, can't work for five years. 

"The point is they throw up these roadblocks, that people whose skins are a little browner than, say, people from France or the United States," Turton said. 

He remarked that the hard-working, "smart people who speak multiple languages" should be welcomed with open arms. 

"The world is going to belong to the nation with the best immigration policy, and that nation is not going to be Taiwan."
 

Despite all that, the columnist agreed that Taiwan is an ideal place to settle, as it's incredibly safe and has a sound healthcare system. 

To attract more foreign professionals and retain them in Taiwan, Turton believes raising salaries and advertising Taiwan's safe and beautiful society is an excellent place to start.

The Taiwan Briefing

#Taiwan#Michael Turton#traffic#bilingual nation#immigration

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