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Taiwan tauted for treatment of South Asian migrant workers

TAIPEI -- Indonesian officials in recent days have commended Taiwan for the way it treats domestic helpers from the Southeast Asian country, with one saying it can be held up as an example for other countries.

Priyo Budi Santoso, deputy speaker of the Indonesian legislature, recently thanked Taiwan for its treatment of the more than 275,000 workers from Indonesia and said its experience can serve as an example for countries in the Middle East and other parts of the world where there are large numbers of workers from the Southeast Asian nation.

Agus Prihono Roostiawati, former director of the National Agency for Placement and Protection of Indonesian Overseas Workers (BNP2TKI) told CNA recently that, compared with frequent reports of abuse of Indonesian domestic helpers in Middle Eastern countries, the treatment of the workers in Taiwan is clearly much better.

She cited the story of an Indonesian worker who was rewarded for saving the life of her employer and said it is indicative of the warm relationship that exists between Indonesian workers and their Taiwanese employers.

In April 2013, an Indonesian helper jumped into a navigation channel in Changhua County to rescue her employer, a 65-year-old female cancer patient who intended to kill herself.

Although she could not swim, the maid managed to hold on to the elderly woman and the two floated for about two kilometers before being pulled up from the two-meter deep channel by good Samaritans. Neither woman was badly injured.

In addition to treating Indonesian domestic helpers better, Taiwanese employers appear to pay them higher salaries, too.

According to figures compiled by the Malaysia National Association of Employment Agencies (Pikap), Indonesian maids earn more in Taiwan than in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and countries in the Middle East.

There are about six million Indonesians working overseas, most of them domestic helpers.

As of the end of last year, around 275,000 of the migrant workers work in Taiwan, with more than 209,000 of them employed as caretakers for elderly or sick people, according to Taiwan government statistics.

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