Empty promises for immigrants

By Lorna Kung 龔尤倩 
As next Saturday’s elections draw nearer, candidates from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are busy trying to secure additional support. They are either going around electioneering or attacking their opponents to get more media exposure. At times like these, politicians — be they pan-blue or pan-green — suddenly start paying a lot of attention to new immigrants who are voting for the first time.
Now, all three presidential candidates are saying they are “Hakka” and visiting Aboriginal villages, donning traditional Aboriginal clothing and pretending they are Aborigines — all in an attempt to gain votes. It would probably be safe to predict that when the next presidential election comes around, the candidates will all be referring to themselves as “new immigrants.” That is actually right, because the only distinction that can be made between people living in Taiwan is who got here a bit earlier and who got here a bit later. We are all immigrants in a sense. The problem is politicians do not realize this most of the time, but come election time, every presidential candidate suddenly develops an interest in “genealogy.” This is nothing but a trick to get people to vote for them.
The 450,000 spouses from China and Southeast Asia in Taiwan are in a minority, accounting for 2 percent of the population. Of these, 190,000 have already obtained citizenship and the right to vote. If they all voted for the same person, they could easily elect a legislator of their own choice. Unfortunately, there are no quotas for new immigrants and the election system distributes them across different areas, eroding their potential voting power. Like many other disadvantaged groups, they only get any attention at election time.

Protesters urge better protections for migrant workers

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter


About 2,000 people, including migrant workers, rights activists, unionists and college students, took to the streets in Taipei yesterday, calling on the government to better protect the rights of migrant domestic workers by giving them regular days off and establishing a minimum wage.
Holding up signs that read “Where are my days off?” in Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese and Tagalog, the migrant workers and their Taiwanese supporters said that they wanted to have vacation time as they began their march at the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station.
“In 2007, migrant workers took to the streets for the first time, shouting: ‘I want days off.’ In 2009, they did it again, shouting: ‘I still don’t have any days off,’” Taiwan International Workers’ Association chairperson Lorna Kung (龔尤倩) told the crowd.

“This year, unfortunately, migrant workers have to come out again and ask: ‘Where are my days off?’” she said. more....


Lorna Kung is a social worker and labor rights activist. Over the past two decades, she has been dedicated to seeking equal rights for blue-collar workers, migrant workers as well as Chinese and Southeast Asian women married to Taiwanese men. A spokeswoman for the Coalition of Black and White Human Rights Movement, Kung announced last week that she had decided to run for legislator on behalf of an alliance called "People are the Boss."

Kung refuses to play the "political game" that other legislative candidates do. She is not affiliated with either of the two major politial parties and she has no financial support from the business sector. "People are the boss," said the middle-aged woman whose frustration with the government and legislators has made her become even stronger. 

Radio Taiwan International
Program: Women Making Waves   2011-11-25 Lorna Kung (點選聽)

Lorna Kung's Statement on 11/12 to launch her election campaign:

"We, the people moving with a trending dream!"

From south to north, rural to urban, from the other shore to this shore of hope, from the other country to this country…. Regardless the order of arrival, in this land, we all have an instinctive survival and a haunting lasting desire to move on

For more than ten years, I have devoted myself to a wide variety of complex immigration / labor movements and communities, bearing pains and enjoying smiles of immigrants and migrant workers. I perceived that immigrants and workers are the master of the society which should not be looked with indifference due to their different nationalities. To join the forthcoming legislators electoral campaign is a decision I choose to take the immigration / labor movements as a social approach to a higher ground....

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