Over the years, Taiwan has worked hard to attract more foreign talent to the country. But there are up to 176,000 taxpaying foreign nationals with disabilities, who are unable to access the resources they need. Disability certificates that grant access to benefits are currently only granted to Taiwanese citizens and Japanese residents. FTV reporter Stephany Yang has the story.
Michael Boyden lies in bed, unable to speak and move. His wife Katy Ho cares for him.
She feeds him formula milk through a syringe every two hours and medication every four hours.
She also removes mucus by placing a sterile tube into his mouth. Ho works a full-time job five days a week and spends the rest of her day taking care of her husband, who has Atypical Parkinsonism.
The thing about Atypical Parkinsonism this one creeps in really fast. We don’t have time to prepare. We thought we still had plenty of time. It advanced so fast.
Boyden has lived in Taiwan since 1989. Before being diagnosed with Atypical Parkinsonism four years ago, he was a British business consultant in Taiwan. He traveled around the world giving speeches and accepting interviews for major news outlets to discuss politics and economics. However, in just a span of two years, Boyden lost his speech, body movements, and ability to swallow. Though his wife is Taiwanese and Boyden has lived in Taiwan for 34 years now, he is ineligible for disability benefits because he is not Taiwanese. Katy says the hardest difficulties they face are the lack of grants, access to a disabled parking permit, and respite care.
I was so desperate so I tried to call for the Long-term Care 2.0 the hotline, and they plainly said, "Oh, no. Your subject is ARC holder we don’t provide it." I said, "But I am Taiwanese and I am in distress. Shouldn’t you give me a break?" They said, "No, because the subject is a foreigner. So you are denied." I don’t need to fight for my husband anymore because it is too late. But I believe. But I believe there is hope for the other people. If we have to go through this journey, it doesn’t mean that everybody should go through this journey.
With his smartphone in hand and a screen reader, he listens and responds to messages. This is Andrew Klerck, a South African entrepreneur who first came to Taiwan 18 years ago. He established multinational companies in 58 countries.
After coming to Taiwan, Klerck lost his vision. At the time, he was running an export company. Despite living in Taiwan for eight years and paying taxes, Klerck is ineligible for disability certification. This is the case for all foreign nationals with the exception of Japanese citizens, who are covered by a reciprocal agreement between the Taiwan and Japan governments.
South African entrepreneur
I don’t have any access to something as simple and as cheap as a little beeper that can be installed onto a traffic light to help me cross safely. How much is it going to cost the government if I get run over by a car?
Klerck was also turned away by the Taiwan Foundation for the Blind, which offers free lifestyle and assistive technology training to visually impaired people. Klerck says his disability costs him on average NT$70,000 a month.
South African entrepreneur
It is the unspoken thing that really hurts more than having the disability certificate or the disability parking. It is more of the unspoken words of "Oh, you can’t have this because you are a foreigner." Why am I still seen as a foreigner in Taiwan after 18 years? I am an immigrant.
The lack of access to a disability certificate not only affects adults but also children. Four-year-old Anwynn has left hemiplegic cerebral palsy, which means the left side of her body is weak, affecting her left leg, eyes, and speech. She wears an orthotic device to help her walk. Her mother, Meagunn Hart, is an American who moved to Taiwan with her husband in 2009. After giving birth to her daughter, Meagunnn quit her job in publishing to provide care full time.
There were no resources available for us. Most daycares would not take a child who has multiple disabilities or there are certain things they can’t do.
Although Anwynn was born in Taiwan, she is not a citizen and is not able to enroll in daycare for children with disabilities, have access to talking devices, or receive subsidized orthotics devices. Though the family calls Taiwan their home, Hart is faced with the difficult decision on whether or not to stay.
The hospital is not allowed to tell us where we can go to buy one just out of pocket. They are also very expensive. NT$6,000 for per orthotic. Taiwan is what she knows. We would really hate to just pull her away.
Without a disability certificate, foreign nationals are barred from access to resources such as subsidies, respite care, and also a disabled parking permit. Many foreign nationals in wheelchairs and their families say that not being to park in disabled parking spaces is the biggest hardship they face.
An NGO called Crossroads Taiwan is calling for equal disability rights for foreign nationals and immigrants. Crossroads Taiwan launched a Disability Inclusion Campaign on April 14, garnering over 1,145 signatures in 60 days. They also held a meeting with lawmakers in August to discuss the challenges faced by disabled foreign nationals.
We are looking at a number of about 40,000 to 176,000 foreign residents in Taiwan who are disabled and not recognized. Taiwan is particularly rare in this sense that it simply does not recognize disability in immigrants simply because of the passport or their nationality.
Crossroads Taiwan says over 50 countries offer immigrants disability certification or benefits to foreign nationals and immigrants that have disabilities. It says that Taiwan withholding access to disability services to foreign nationals could be illegal, due to the fact that Taiwan has signed the UN Convention of Rights with Persons with Disabilities.
By not providing foreign residents and immigrants with recognition and care. Is this actually illegal? Since we actually had these laws in place.
Although Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations but Taiwan has automatically signed a statement who issued and initiated by UN. Even though we sign laws, in our law system, we failed in the past to pass a law to go along with this kind of statement.
Legislators Wang Ting-yu and Claire Wang have been working to introduce reforms that will be discussed in the current legislative session. The amendments are on the Act for the Recruitment and Employment for Foreign Professionals. If the legislation is passed, it will make disability certificates available to taxpaying APRC holders who have legally stayed in Taiwan for 10 years.
We found out, those people who stay in Taiwan for 10 years or 15 years, they pay taxes. Maybe they were teachers, maybe they are some engineers. They pay taxes and sometimes even higher than our citizens. They choose here to stay when they are old. When I realized this situation, I talked to our prime minister Chen Chien-jen directly. He thinks this is a problem we need to fix it. This law fix has been arranged into our agenda. I hope this law, this act, can be passed in October or November.
Most of our laws are of course first based on our citizens’ needs. It’s true that much of past legislation doesn’t factor in frequent international engagement. There are about 800,000 foreign nationals with residency rights in Taiwan. Going by the percentage of the population that has disabilities, we’re looking at about 40,000 foreign nationals. About 40 foreign nationals with physical and mental disabilities have been able to obtain a disability certificate. It will be difficult to handle this issue during this legislative session. It may have to wait until the next Legislative Yuan is elected because this last session will be dominated by budget review.
Claire Wang says that voting may have to wait till next year, because the health ministry wishes to survey arrangements in other countries before moving forward. Aside from taxpaying foreign nationals who lack disability rights, there are also approximately 700,000 foreign migrant workers who also lack those rights as they live and work in Taiwan. With Taiwan looking to attract 400,000 foreign workers by 2030, protecting foreign workers with disabilities will also be a test for the government.
For more Taiwan news, tune in:
Sun to Fri at 9:30 pm on Channel 152
Tue to Sat at 1 am on Channel 53
[[Michael Boyden妻子 何靜慧]]
1989年，Michael Boyden移居台灣，四年前被診斷出患有非典型帕金森氏症，在這之前，Michael Boyden在台擔任英國公司的商業顧問。他在世界各地演講，並接受新聞媒體的採訪，談論政治和經濟的議題。然而，僅僅兩年的時間，Michael Boyden 就失去了言語、肢體動作和吞嚥能力。儘管Michael Boyden的妻子是台灣人，而且Michael Boyden已經在台生活了34年，卻礙於不是台灣人，無法申請身心障礙證明。何靜慧說，他們面臨的難題包括缺乏補助金、身心障礙者專用停車位識別證和照顧服務。
[[Michael Boyden妻子 何靜慧]]
來到台灣後，Andrew Klerck失明了，當時，他經營一家出口公司。儘管在台灣生活了8年並年年繳稅，Andrew Klerck仍然沒有獲得身心障礙者該有的福利。在台灣，除了日本公民受到兩國政府之間互惠協議保護，所有外國人都無法申請身心障礙證明。
[[南非創業家 Andrew Klerck ]]
Andrew Klerck也無法獲得愛盲基金會的幫助，該基金會無償為視障人士提供生活用品及技術培訓。Andrew Klerck說，他因為殘疾，每月平均要多花7萬台幣。
[[南非創業家 Andrew Klerck ]]
不僅成年人無法獲得身心障礙證明，兒童也不例外。四歲的Anwynn患有半側偏癱腦性麻痺，導致左側肢體運動功能不佳，影響了左腿、眼睛和言語。她必須穿著矯形器來幫助她行走。她的母親Meagunn Hart是美國人，2009年隨丈夫移居台灣。Meagunn Hart生下女兒後，辭去了出版業的工作，全心全意照顧女兒。
[[Anwynn媽媽 Meagunn Hart]]
[[台灣全球連結發展協會執行長 David Chang ]]
[[台灣全球連結發展協會執行長 David Chang]]