Southeast Asia safety net needed for travelers

  • By Jeng Shann-yinn 鄭善印

It is disconcerting to learn of employment scams in Cambodia, in which Taiwanese were “sold out”, sexually assaulted, locked up and beaten. There have even been reports of organ harvesting.

I believe this to be true after watching news reports showing Criminal Investigation Bureau officers at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport trying to persuade Taiwanese job seekers not to fly to Cambodia.

In southern Taiwan, a policeman friend asked ward wardens to warn residents through the local broadcast system not to believe advertisements for high-paying jobs in Southeast Asia.

How should Taiwan eliminate these types of crimes, which are outside its jurisdiction?

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), the Cabinet set up a “national anti-fraud team” consisting of the Ministry of Interior, the National Communications Commission (NCC), the Commission financial monitoring, the Ministry of Justice and other government agencies.

As the national team pointed out, the governance of the telecommunications networks, through which job vacancies are advertised, is more difficult than the traditional administrative assistance between government agencies.

With the establishment of the Fraud Team, the joint efforts of the NCC and the National Police Agency are expected to result in the gradual disappearance of fraudulent advertisements and online messages nationwide.

However, what should be done to collect intelligence abroad, help victims trying to return home and coordinate with international relief organizations?

Taiwan’s embassies and consulates abroad are staffed with officials from government agencies who report directly to their own department heads. As they have a minimum term of three years, they are useful for gathering information for host countries and for conducting official business.

I once met an overseas liaison officer that the office had sent to Japan. I admired his understanding of Japanese police affairs, his work in solving security issues for Taiwanese in Japan, and his ability to negotiate with Japanese police officers. To qualify for the position, these officers must be cultured and, most importantly, endowed with good negotiation skills, diligence and a sense of purpose.

It seems that Taiwan does not have a police liaison officer in Southeast Asia, except in Thailand, and of course there is no consulate or representative office either. Once an emergency arises for a Taiwanese in Southeast Asia, other than Thailand, they may not be able to find help.

This situation is unfavorable to the government’s new southern policy. To improve this, he should make good use of Taiwanese businessmen abroad.

Police liaison officers are less politically sensitive than other diplomatic, judicial, military and security agency liaison officers, as they are solely responsible for handling criminal cases. For this reason, it is common for police officers from different countries to come into contact with each other through their shared channels.

To meet the needs of the new southbound policy, the office could set aside a budget to send its agents to Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries through Taiwanese businessmen to abroad, so that they can observe, develop personal networks and collect information.

With their experience in the field, their solid physique and their discipline, the police liaison officers could constitute a diplomatic force at a lower cost.

Jeng Shann-yinn is a professor in the law department of Kainan University.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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