Filipino graduate students at Yu Da University of Science and Technology (YDU) in Miaoli say they have been forced to work at a tile factory as part of an alleged collaboration between the university and third-party brokerage agencies to force exchange students into manual labor.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Chang Liao Wan-chien (張廖萬堅) said yesterday at least 40 students have been forced into working at a factory in Miaoli since April through what was advertised as a work-study program but wound up being a scheme involving third-party brokerage agency Harvest, according to the Taipei Times.

YDU is the third school implicated in such a scheme, said Chang. The incidents, said the legislator, have “seriously damaged Taiwan’s image.”

The students were paid NT$140 per hour and worked 4-5 days a week – up to 40 hours per week, well above the legal limit for international students, which is 20 hours per week, said Chang.

The students were forced to pay financial penalties for showing a “bad attitude” and were disqualified from tuition installment plans should they fail to uphold their work commitments, the legislator added.

Students said they were subject to verbal abuse from managers. “We became slaves of our dreams,” said one 26-year-old student who identified as Raymark. “I gave my best to my work, but my body is neither a log nor a robot.”

The ministry of education has vowed to punish YDU for its alleged involvement in the arrangement.

Other news from Taiwan:

► Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said Taiwan would try to protect its diplomatic alliances, although some allies may be considering switching to Beijing – a statement which may hint at future diplomatic defections among Taiwan’s remaining 17 diplomatic allies. (Taipei Times)

► The parliamentary speaker of the Marshall Islands, one of Taiwan’s remaining allies, said in Taipei yesterday that his country would always support Taiwan. (CNA)

► Wu also said Taiwan did not participate in a February WHO vaccines conference in Beijing out of protest towards the WHO’s treatment of Taiwan. (Taipei Times)


► Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲, above) responded to criticism of his decision to sit on the floor to charge his phone in an Israel airport. (Taipei Times)

► In potentially more important news, Ko visited former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) last week, shortly after meeting former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) on Feb. 12. Ko rejected speculation that the meetings were part of a plan to run for president in 2020. (Taipei Times)

► President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took to Twitter to express her pride after Taiwan was named Asia’s top country in securing gender rights by a World Bank report. (Tsai Ing-wen)

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Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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