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Taiwan Church News

3330 Edition

December 21 - 27, 2015

Headline News

 

Vietnamese Migrant Workers Celebrate 2015 Christmas In Taiwan

 

Reported by Simon Lin from Taichung

 

On December 20, accompanied by the coworkers of Taiwan Industrial Evangelical Fellowship(TIEF), an assembly of about 30 Vietnamese migrant workers and their families celebrated Christmas at Tanzi Evangelical Center(TEC) in Taichung. Through hymnals, praises and dances, these Vietnamese Christians expressed their pious pursuit of the Christian faith and great joy to meet one another in this hilarious celebration. Taking this assembly as a formal and jubilant social event, some female youths were even dressed up in Vietnamese traditional costumes, specially rented from the costume stores, in order to show the elegance and beauty of the Vietnamese culture.

In the Vietnamese version of the hymnals, like , and etc, these migrant workers and their families praised in thanksgiving to celebrate the Christmas of 2015. Ms. Chen Yu-chung, missionary of SEND International, was invited to deliver her sermon message on the meaning of the Christmas.

Ms. Kuam Ching-hsien, another missionary of SEND International and a Vietnam-born Chinese forced to exile into Canada in 1970s due to an anti-Chinese riot in Vietnam, shared her difficult experiences as a migrant worker in Canada and encouraged the Vietnamese compatriots in Taiwan to learn more about Jesus' love.

According to Taiwan's Ministry of Interior, till the end of 2015, there are 550 thousand migrant workers working in Taiwan. Among them, 150 thousand workers from Vietnam are the second largest populace among all migrant workers' countries. TEC, now maintained by three female septuagenarian missionaries, is listed as one of several existent Christian charity institute which continues to care for Vietnam migrant workers in Taichung area. In the past 5 years, through the cooperation with TEC's Rev. Chen Shu-yin in some out-reaching ministries like languages/talents teaching, dormitory visits and outdoor activities, over 750 Vietnam migrant workers were received with care and love from these septuagenarian missionaries.

As most Vietnam migrant workers possessed a high school degree, they usually could find a better job in Taiwan with higher wages than that in their own home country, reported TEC. Yet, according to the experiences of Ms Nguyen Thi Tam, a female Vietnam migrant worker who has worked 2 years in Taiwan, an amount of big money between US$ 5,000 ~ US$ 6,000 has to be paid in advance to intermediary agency by their compatriots at the very beginning of their jobs here. Ms Nguyen said she was just fortunate enough that she could afford to pay this big money, because she works in a big company with fair and stable wages. Some of her Vietnam compatriots were not so lucky: their wages could not even reach Taiwan's legal minimum wages and did not know where they can find help when they were treated unfair?

In order to learn more about these Vietnam migrant workers and give more substantial help and care, TIEF urges brothers and sisters of Taiwan churches who felt being called to serve these Vietnamese migrant workers could contact them to arrange a further visit or short-term evangelical ministry at TEC.

Translated by Peter Wolfe

About 30 Vietnamese migrant workers and their families celebrated 2015 Christmas at Tanzi Evangelical Center(TEC) in Taichung.

Photo by Simon Lin

 
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Taiwan Church News

3329 Edition

December 14 - 20, 2015

Editorial

 

The Compassionate Law Of God

 

Recent controversies of legal issues dominates Taiwan's media. For example, the speculative and mass deals of the so-called "military housing" by Ms. Wang Ju-hsuan, KMT Vice Presidential candidate, generates a wide spread of criticisms if the laws are breached, though she insists everything is legal in the plunging opinion polls; a wave of purchase action, "instant-buy-and-instant-claim", which furiously protest against the acquittal of Ting Hsin International at the first trial's sentence on the case of the shockingly adulterated oil, is another climax of current social events. In comparison with these two cases, a final quality verdict of an aboriginal Bunun hunter, Talum, with three and six months prison term seems outlandishly absurd!

In the past several thousands' years on this island, hunting as a Bunun tradition, is a way of wisdom to conserve the environmental resources and supply the food for the families, yet it becomes a serious crime under the laws of modern state. In the name of civilized laws, the tool of the aboriginal hunter becomes the potential homicide weapons, the animal hunted turns into the endangered species and the hunter a disgraceful criminal. In contrast with the aboriginal wisdom, practiced and inherited through thousands of years on this island, modern laws appear so pale, cruel and incapable.

From the legal point of view, or even from the view of a non-aboriginal society, hunting only means for leisure and killing. So, it is very natural to give Talum a guilty verdict and put him in jail. But, from the perspectives of the aboriginal people, the tradition of hunting has a history longer than the modern countries on Taiwan. Giving a guilty verdict to Talum means an injustice and a serious contempt of the aboriginal culture practiced in this island for thousands of years. An apparent clash of two totally different values is therefore emerged. And this conflict forces Taiwan society to think seriously about the fundamental problems of our legal system: Which Justice? Whose Justice?

Ideally speaking, superseding the interests of any party or individual, the spirit of the law is the culmination of the will of the people. Its main purpose, through an appropriate and deliberative legislation, is to deliver a reasonable development for our country and society and ensure a strong protection of our liberty, equality and fraternity. The ideal of our laws, though, may be amended following the changes of times, it is undeniably scandalous that an implicit negligence toward the traditional indigenous culture is embedded within our legal code and administrative stipulation. Our aboriginal hunters will continuously be sent into jail, if such unjust laws can not be overhauled.

In contrast of the cold and indifferent attitudes to the Talum case, the hysterical tongue-lashing toward the protest action in the event of "instant-buy-and-instant-claim" makes lots people confused about the moral integrity of Taiwan society. Thus, it turns into a very strange phenomenon: most people become poignant yet still keep silent, when their food safety is seriously infringed; yet some daring protesters are rewarded with heavy lashing from those related Ting Hsin Int'l suppliers whose short-term interests are gravely challenged.

"Keep silent before evil, stand away from justice" is a common aberrant mentality among Taiwan society. When our government use their arbitrary legal laws to marginalize the aboriginal peoples, should Taiwan church take the same stance to treat those aboriginal churches marginalized in modern economic exploitation. The scripture says in Romans 13:8  that "owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law". Before the aboriginal cultures are respected and integrated into the government's laws and codes, Taiwan church should stand up and speak out for the aboriginal peoples because such action is the compassionate law of God!

 
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Taiwan Church News

3329 Edition

December 14 - 20, 2015

Church Ministry News

 

Wanchin Basilica Celebrates Christmas In A 3D Mapping Projection Of Biblical Stories And Local Cultures

 

Reported by Chen Yi-fan

In the evening on December 10, the Catholic Church of Wanchin, which was located 60 km south of Kaohsiung and established in 1861, celebrated Christmas in an innovative 3D mapping projection of biblical stories and local cultures. In the hymnal singing by the church chorus, Mr. Pang Meng-an - Pingtung County Magistrate - and Father Hsu Chin-hsien jointly lighted up the major lantern of the 2015 Christmas Lantern Festival at Wanchin Basilica.

Wanchin vilage, together with the neighboring Red Mountain village, is the historical starting point of Taiwan Catholic Church's evangelical mission. Up to now, Catholics believers account for 70% of the local inhabitants. Decorated with 154 stars, symbolizing 154 years of the Catholic mission in Taiwan, the major lantern of 2015 Christmas Lantern Festival based its design on the idea of 12 Archangels protecting people from the above heavens.

In this fantastic 3D mapping projection, not only biblical stories were illuminated, like the Genesis' creation story, Moses led the Israelite through the Red Sea or the Nativity of Jesus; local cultural elements, like black tuna fish season, mango harvest, wild ginger gathering, Hakka firecrackers festival and the aboriginal harvest rituals, were also integrated to present the diversity and abundance of the Christmas season of peace.

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 

Biblical stories and local cultural elements were illuminated in a 3D mapping projection at the 2015 Christmas Lantern Season at Pingtung County's Wanchin Basilica.

Photo by Chen Yi-fan

 
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Taiwan Church News

3329 Edition

December 14 - 20, 2015

Headline News

 

An Extraordinary Appeal Is Filed For An Aboriginal Hunter's Traditional Hunting Due to Waves Of Protests

 

Reported by Chiu Kuo-rong and Lin Yi-ying

 

Due to aboriginal and human rights groups' waves of protests, including the demonstration at Council of Indigenous Peoples(CIP) and burning signal smokes before the Supreme Prosecutor Office, an aboriginal Bunun hunter - Talum, who was charged by Taitung District Prosecutor Office in 2013 and sentenced by the court to serve three-and-a-half years in prison for weapon (shotgun) possession and poaching the Formosan serows and Reeves' muntjacs for his nonagenarian mother's diet, is surprisingly filed an extraordinary appeal and temporarily suspended his prison term which should be executed from December 15.

Lawyers of Talum expressed that the laws of the Republic of China is established chronically after the traditional cultures practiced by the aboriginal peoples over millenniums. The authorities of Taiwan government should respect the hunting culture and habits of the aboriginal peoples, and the autonomy of hunting should be given back to Talum, lawyers reminded.

On December 11, PCT Bunun Presbytery General Affairs Office(BPGAO) delivered a resolution indicating that hunting is a daily practice of the aboriginal traditional culture. And in the case of Talum, the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law announced by the Presidential Office in 2005 is actually superseded by the laws of Republic of China; this is an exploitation of aboriginal cultures and even a colonial judiciary tyranny to annihilate the aboriginal cultures, said BPGAO.

The ruthless and unscrupulous sentence of Talum's case by the judges are also severely criticized by BPGAO, as their ignorance toward aboriginal cultures is glaringly distressing. For the aboriginal hunting is an ever-lasting spiritual asset, and shotgun is especially an inseparable part of it, all the indigenous peoples and their friends are therefore urged to guard against the rights of the aboriginal by asking Taiwan government to comply with ICCPR, ICESCR and UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, remarked BPGAO.

Rev. Omi Wilang, Secretary of PCT Mission Foundation, invited the attention and prayer of PCT presbyteries, especially all aboriginal presbyteries and district assemblies, to concern about this verdict. Once the verdict is finalized, it will become a precedent case with an immeasurable damage to the aboriginal traditions and cultures.

Ciwang Teyray, an youth of Taroko Presbytery reminded that, it is clearly specified in the article 19 of the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law that the aboriginal have rights to hunt, though, the aboriginal culture of traditional hunting was always intentionally neglected or ignorantly misinterpreted by judiciary system as a special exception only allowed in harvest festival or tribunal rituals in Talum's verdict. In fact the hunting practice, expressed in their sincere prayer or communication to the ancestral spirits before the hunting, is a solemn tribunal ritual proceeded in the daily lives, said Ciwang Teyray.

Translated by Peter Wolfe

Except burning smoke signals, aboriginal youths and human rights groups across Taiwan protested the sentence of three-and-six-month prison term of the aboriginal Bunun hunter - Talum - before the Supreme Prosecutor Office on December 14.

Photo by Chiu Kuo-rong

 
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Taiwan Church News

3329 Edition

December 14 - 20, 2015

Church Ministry News

 

Migrant Workers March For Equal Treatment And Against Sweatshop Exploitation

 

Reported by Chiu Kuo-rong from Taipei

A bi-annual march of migrant workers with hundreds of workers and supporters, asking equal treatment for the long-term care workers and against sweatshop exploitation, took to the streets at the Taipei City on December 13.

In order to deliver the presidential hopeful Tsai Ing-wen a letter of petition, signed by migrant worker's representatives from the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, this march organized by the Scalabrini International Migration Network in Taiwan(SIMNT) started from Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building and ended at the campaign headquarters of Tsai Ing-wen. When the petition of migrant workers was handed to the representative of Tsai Ing-wen, famous human rights activist Fr. Peter Nguyen led the migrant workers at site crying:"No To Sweatshop Long-Term Care! Yes For Care Justice!"

According to Ms. Chuang Hui-ling of the SIMNT, about 770,000 people in Taiwan in need of long-term care, of whom 450,000(58%), are cared for by family members and 230,000(30%) by foreign caregivers; 4% are taken care of in institutions; the remaining 8%use government services. It is estimated that family members or foreign caregivers spend up to 14 hours a day for an average of 10 years working for people with long-term care needs. “This is a tremendous burden to [the employees] physically and emotionally, but the issue has not been recognized or heeded by the government or society,” said Liu Hsiao-ying, a counselor with the Hsinchu Catholic Diocese Migrants and Immigrants Service Center.

In the petition to Tsai three major requests are listed to improve migrant workers' human rights, first, an overhaul of current Taiwan's policy and administration toward migrant workers is requested to set them free from their slave status and become free workers in labor market; second, the legal rights of migrant workers should be passed through legislation and the question of "the absence of holiday" among 100,000 migrant workers should be solved immediately; third, an integral long-term care system should be established to fulfill the care justice, ensuring no party in the long-term care system(i.e. elderly and disabled people, their families, foreign caregivers and housekeeping staff) would be harmed or exploited.

Fr. Peter Nguyen pointed out there were two major conundrums encountered by migrant workers in Taiwan: the absence of legal protection on their human rights and a serious exploitation of their wages by intermediary agents. For the average migrant worker in Taiwan, usually she or he had to pay NT$ 200,000 (US$ 6,500) to her intermediary agent in advance. Considering some stipulated dedcutions from the min. legal wages as NT$ 20,008 (US$ 605) the dormitory fees, taxes, health insurance, labor insurance and miscellaneous expenses, her or his actual earning per month is roughly NT$15,000(US$ 454) only.

As a matter of fact, that Taiwan relentless laws inhibiting migrant workers to change their employers freely is also a major malign factor turning migrant workers into a modern slave!

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 
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Taiwan Church News

3328 Edition

December 7 - 13, 2015

Editorial

 

Air Pollution, A Point Of View From Human Rights

 

As 2015 is commemorated as the 70th anniversary after the end of World War II, which is a monumental historical event for us human beings to revere the basic values of basic human rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was reminded to be pass solemnly by United Nation in Paris the very date on 10 December 1948. Since 1950, 10 December was further established by UN as Human Rights Day ever!

In the same vein, during two weeks' COP21 conference held in Paris from November 30, the special arrangement of Human Rights Day within the climate warming agenda seems to suggest the world that there is a very close relationship among human rights, environmental protection and economical justice. Yet such relationship is kept being undermined, resulting an irrevocable climate change, by human beings' relentless destruction of our ecological environment. Now, the basic right to survive, which is exactly one of our human rights, for all creatures is seriously endangered!

When the world focuses on the issues of climate changes, environments and the development of human rights, Taiwan is suffering the most severe air pollution since this autumn. The level of PM 2.5(size of particulate material less than a diameter of 2.5 micrometer) reaches a very dangerous level in central and southern Taiwan. But the Taiwan government can do nothing to alleviate the pollution, not to mention to propose an effective control of the pollutants. If breathing the clean air became a luxuary, how could other human rights be expected. For a country like Taiwan, having boasted to the world as a big nation of human rights, this is a great irony!

KMT took the power in 2009, though, claiming to abide by two very important human rights laws, i.e. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economical, Social and Cultural Rights(ICESCR), as a matter of fact the status of Taiwan's human rights is notoriously backslid. For example, the pressingly grave air pollution in Taiwan is obviously a breach of the principle complying to "the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health"(article 12.1 in ICESCR). In addition, with lots of opaque decisions and suspicious policies like "Black-Box Cross-Strait Service Trade Act", "Black-Box High School Curriculum Guidelines", "Ma-Xie Meeting", deteriorating gaps between social classes and etc., most Taiwan people do hope a new regime to emerge after the Presidential election in next January 2016.

As Taiwan society is so seriously ill with many social problems, many PCT ministers and elders are prompted to attend "The National Supporters Association for Tsai Ing-wen and Chen Chien-jen" expecting a better future to come for Taiwan. It is really touching that so many Christians standing up for Taiwan, though, an attitude of "critical support" toward KMT regime under the leadership of the late President Lee Teng-huei, advised in a prophetical voice by Rev. Shoki Coe, is still necessary for Taiwan churches. Everything done by the state has to be checked and inspected without passion by the church.

In the past 8 years, there are uninterrupted reports of frauds, embezzlement and stupid decisions made by Ma Ying-jeou administration which is an overwhelmingly dominant power both in administration and legislation. And this reminds us the crisis warned by Lord Acton: absolute power corrupts absolutely! Though there are several weeks before the Presidential election, Taiwan churches and their members should prepare themselves for the inevitable ministry of loyal opposition and criticism.

This critical stance toward the future administration is compliant to John Calvin's basic teaching about human being: "All people, like our primordial forebear Adam, are fallen from the grace of God. That is everyone of us is under the shadow of sin." Also, this reflective thought conforms to the Confession of Faith of the PCT: "[Men] have social, political and economic systems, arts and sciences, and a spirit which seeks after the true God. But human beings have sinned, and they misuse these gifts, destroying the relationship between themselves, all creatures, and God." Taiwan churches and the Christians should cautiously keep themselves away from from the temptations of worshiping themselves as idols, walk humbly with God and stand up bravely for human rights. Let us not forget: "When human rights are perverted in the presence of the Most High - does the Lord not see it?"(Lam. 3:25)

 


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