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Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen defended the migrant workers against Mayor Han Kuo-yu

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen took wondering Kaohsiung Mayor and full-time presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu to be more efficient for his pointing out to migrant workers as "chickens" and warning against Southeast Asians "causing trouble."

President Tsai said that the National Immigration Agency (NIA) has clarified that it is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance's Customs Administration to screen for illegal visitors. In reference to Han's warning against visitors who come to "cause trouble," Tsai said, "All friends who come to Taiwan, regardless of whether they came a long time ago or recently, should not be discriminated against," reported ET today

Then, in a direct jab at Han's "chickens" comment, Tsai said, "Elected political figures should avoid using erroneous and stereotypical statements to single out immigrants and migrants who participate in Taiwan's society."

During a livestreamed video discussion about policies on Aug. 29, Han touched on the topic of Taiwan's brain drain. In the video, Han described the flight of Taiwanese talent and the arrival of migrant workers as "phoenixes flying away and a bunch of chickens coming in!" , insulting many in the immigrant community.

Han conceded that when he said, "phoenixes flying away and a bunch of chickens coming in," it sparked a huge uproar and immense confusion. He said that he was grateful to all those new immigrants who came to Taiwan to work legally, "But, as for those who come here illegally and enter the country to cause trouble, this is absolutely unacceptable."

Phoenixes and chickens’ misinterpreted

Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu has drawn criticism over his comment that “phoenixes are flying away and a bunch of chickens are coming in,” which some have alleged were a reference to Taiwan’s brain drain and the inflow of migrant workers. During a video livestream, he attempted to clarify the contentious remarks, saying he was referring to complaints he had received from Customs about the surge of visitors from New Southbound Policy countries seeking prostitution or other illegal employment. 

Note: This statement has been denied by the Customs Administration, which says the matter should be handled by the National Immigration Agency.

In response, the custom administration issued a press release, in which it said that the customs information mentioned in Han Kuo-yu's live broadcast was not actually the business of the Customs Administration. It said that customs is only responsible for the clearance of goods.

President Tsai said, "We are grateful to new immigrants and the contributions of migrant workers to Taiwan." She added, "We hope that everyone works to eliminate discrimination against them in Taiwanese society.


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