The Ministry of Culture hosted an open forum exploring cultural participation and the cultural rights of Taiwan’s new immigrants at Taoyuan’s Zhongli Arts Hall on June 18.
The forum was attended by roughly 200 new immigrants, migrant workers, second-generation immigrants, foreign students from Southeast Asia and China, and social activists who sought to talk with Deputy Culture Minister Dr. Pierre Tzu-pao Yang (楊子葆) and other government officials.
Deputy Minister Yang noted that as part of the 2017 National Cultural Congress program, Sunday’s forum was significant for the general public to learn more about how new immigrants have enriched Taiwan society.
The Ministry has been working to establish the Culture Basic Law, which aims to protect equal cultural rights and access to culture for all individuals, including new immigrants, added Deputy Minister Yang.
Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) also noted that many problems concerning the lives of new immigrants in Taiwan have been solved by concerted efforts between the Ministry of Culture and the Executive Yuan over the years.
However, most new immigrants and migrant workers have no right to vote, and their cultural rights become increasingly neglected by local governments. Thus, Chen hoped the forum will serve as a starting point for people to learn all aspects of the lives of new immigrants in Taiwan.
Titled “The Past and Present of New Immigrants,” the first session was hosted by Chang Cheng (張正), founder of Southeast Asia-themed bookstore Brilliant Time, to discuss issues encompassing government policy on new immigrants and tolerance in society.
The discussion was presided over by Li Dan-feng (李丹鳳), director of Taiwan International Family Association’s Taipei office; Nguyen Thi Thanh Ha (阮氏青河), lecturer at National Cheng Kung University; and Pan Cun-rong (潘存蓉), board director of the Chinese Association for Foreign Spouses & Labors’ Voice.
The second session, titled “The Present and Future of New Immigrants,” was hosted by Xu Rui-xi (徐瑞希), board director of the Global Workers' Association Taiwan, with professor Lee Mei-hsien (李美賢), legislator Lin Li-chan (林麗蟬), and Lin Zhou-xi (林周熙), founder of SouthEast Asian Migrant Inspired (SEAMi) bookstore, joining in to discuss how to achieve cultural equity among new immigrants.
During the forum, audience members also highlighted the current situation of being stereotyped and labeled, called for society to embrace inclusivity, and proposed several methods for Taiwanese people to learn more about Southeast Asian cultures.
The draft Culture Basic Law was also shared via instantaneous interpretation to help audience members understand the current rules governing diversity, cultural rights, and freedom of participation in Taiwan.
The Ministry of Culture noted such forums are incredibly important platforms for gathering information and advice from new immigrants, and promised to use feedback from the June 18 forum as reference for future cultural policymaking and revisions of the draft Culture Basic Law.