Taiwan News: Law Passed to Woo Foreign Talent, ARC Change by June 2019

Taiwan News: Law Passed to Woo Foreign Talent, ARC Change by June 2019
Credit: Reuters / Tyrone Siu
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Lawmakers have passed a amendment to the Professionals and Technologists Examinations Act that will make it easier for foreign professionals to obtain a license to work in Taiwan.

The amendment applies to doctors, dentists, pharmacists, dietitians, veterinarians and people in several other fields that require licensure.

The new rules state that if a foreign applicant already holds a license recognized by his or her country and is deemed qualified to work here in Taiwan, they will no longer be required to take the license examination.

While foreign professionals will still need to sit the license exams, they will now have the option of taking the written and oral tests in English instead of Chinese.

Applicants in certain professions were previously required to sit a license exam administered only in Chinese.

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Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said the government is hoping to finalize a format change for Alien Residence Certificate (ARC) and Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC) numbers by the end of June next year at the latest.

The move will bring the numbering format on Alien Resident Certificates in line with the national ID card.

According to Hsu, the new numbering system will give foreigners greater access to services and benefits and create a friendlier living environment for them.

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A sample of the updated ARC from the Ministry of the Interior.

ARC holders will be assigned a new number when they renew their cards, while APRC holders will either not be required to change their number or will do so within an as yet unannounced timeframe.

The Interior Ministry said the change will affect more than 1 million ARC and APRC holders.

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The head of Taiwan's Olympic Committee is expressing concern that a proposal to change the name of the Taiwanese team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics from "Chinese Taipei" to "Taiwan" could result in the island losing its Olympic membership.

Committee president Lin Hong-dow (林鴻道) said his top priority is to ensure local athletes have the right to compete in the Olympics and his office will continue to comply with the 1981 Lausanne Agreement. That agreement allowed Taiwan back into the Olympics under the name "Chinese Taipei."

The statement comes as the International Olympic Committee is seeking information about referendum procedures ahead of a vote on whether Taiwan should request to attend the Tokyo Olympics under the name "Taiwan" instead of "Chinese Taipei."

Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka says the government will take a "hands off" approach towards the matter and it respect's Lin's stance on the issue.

However, former sports council head Yang Chung-ho (楊忠和) said the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee should insist the IOC change the name used by Taiwan to compete in international sporting events.

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Fishermen are protesting the government's decision to increase fines for violating three amended fisheries laws.

Local fishermen's association say the new fines are excessive and they're calling on the government to review the relevant laws and regulations.

According to the head of a Pingtung-based fishermen's self-help association, the new laws impose "exorbitant fines" on deep-water fishing operators working illegally and could threaten their survival.

The Kuomintang (KMT) is backing the protest, saying fishermen are willing to come under the management of the government, but the stiff fines are unfair.

The amended fisheries laws came into effect in January of last year as part of government efforts to remove Taiwan from the European Union's "yellow card" watch list for insufficient cooperation in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Maximum fines for illegal fishing were raised to NT$30 million (US$975,083), with penalties for repeat offenders increased to NT$45 million (US$1.46 million).

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Credit: Nick Aspinwall

Read More: Taiwan's Fishing Captains Protest in Defense of Embattled Industry

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said a recent report that appeared in Nicaraguan media claiming that Taiwan will spend US$280 million (NT$8.61 billion) to buy its bonds is "fake information."

According to the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, the reports are "purely fictitious" and the Nicaraguan government has not requested Taiwan buy the bonds.

Foreign office officials also said the government has never had any plans to buy the bonds.

A Nicaraguan media outlet had cited two anonymous diplomatic sources as saying Taiwan would invest US$280 million in Financial Stability Bonds issued by Nicaragua's government.

Taiwan's ambassador to Nicaragua, Jaime Wu (吳進木), also denied the reports, saying he has no knowledge of any plans by the Taiwanese government to buy the bonds.

Read More: After El Salvador, What Now for Taiwan and Its Central American Allies?

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Flight attendants accused the the Civil Aeronautics Administration of working with local airlines to deprive them of their rights by drafting a separate labor act for the aviation industry.

According to the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union, such an act would 'legalize overwork.'

The EVA Air Corporate Union said the civil aviation body should request EVA Air adjust its current flight rotations, particularly on routes where round-trip flights can easily exceed 12 hours.

The call comes after labor authorities fined EVA Air NT$550,000 (US$17,877) last week for having its attendants work longer hours than allowed by law for the fifth time in three years.

Under Taiwan's Aircraft Flight Operation Regulations a cabin crew may not perform more than 14 hours of work within a 24-hour period on international flights.

However, Taiwan's Labor Standards Act stipulates that employees cannot work for more than 12 hours per day, even with overtime.

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The Travel Agent Association is slamming government plans to allow unlicensed vendors to arrange tours and travel itineraries.

The move comes as the government is seeking to amend the Act for the Development of Tourism, which would allow non-travel related businesses to sell tickets for domestic transport on behalf of rail and bus operators.

Association spokesperson Lin Yi-shun (林義順) said the move will result in unlicensed vendors being able to operate without any government oversight or control.

According to Lin, licensed travel agencies currently arrange tours for between 4 and 8 million domestic travelers a year, and that number would halved if the amendment passes.

Lin also said the licensed sector will see losses of up to NT$1 billion (US$32.5 million) a year if current laws are relaxed.

The Tourism Bureau said the amendments are aimed at opening up the domestic tourism sector, but that it will carry out a full assessment of the plan before the amendments are put to lawmakers for ratification.

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Credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen CC BY 3.0

Read More: Taiwanese Tourists Newly Welcomed into 'Mysterious' North Korea

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The Ministry of Education said it will take disciplinary action against Tainan's Kang Ning University after some of its foreign students were found to be working illegally at a poultry processing plant.

According to the ministry, the university will be held responsible whether it was aware of the situation or was simply negligent, as the case points to a problem with the school's administrative system.

The education ministry opened an investigation into the matter after it received a letter from one of the students in November last year explaining that they recruited by an agent for the university, arrived in Taiwan on a visitor's visa. Although the student was admitted to the school, they were not offered any classes and instead sent to work illegally at a poultry processing plant.

Disciplinary action against the university will include suspension of its right to recruit foreign students, a reduction of its student enrollment quota, and a cut in government subsidies for the next school year.

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The Thai government has approved a plan to waiver visa-on-arrival fees for visitors from 21 countries, including Taiwan, for stays of up to 15 days.

According to Thailand's Immigration Bureau, the initiative is aimed at attracting more foreign visitors to the country and increasing tourism revenue.

The current visa-on-arrival fee will be suspended from December 1 through January 31.

According to Taiwan's Tourism Bureau, 553,804 Taiwanese traveled to Thailand last year.

Read Next: The Origins of 'Queer Asia': The First International LGBTQ Docuseries in Asia

This news bulletin was provided courtesy of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), Taiwan’s leading English-language broadcaster.

Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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