Monday, December 31, 2007

Assignment #14

High school intern teacher hangs self in MRT

A 22-year-old intern teacher at Taipei's First Girls' High School was found dead at a Taipei main station restroom Thursday.

Police said Hsu Pei-hsing, who began an internship last July, hanged herself with her sneaker laces. An MRT station janitor reported the suicide at 7 p.m.

The janitor, whose identity was withheld, told investigators she found nothing wrong when she cleaned the restroom on the third deck of the MRT main station at 6 p.m.

When she was cleaning the same restroom again one hour later, the janitor found one of the bathroom stalls couldn't be opened. When she opened the toilet door, the janitor found Hsu hanging on the pegs for clothing. Her sneakers were left by the side of the toilet bowl.

No suicide note was found, however.

Hsu left a message on her cellphone, investigators said. "Somebody is watching me," the message said, "but I've done nothing against anyone." The message is not yet understood, but Hsu's mother told police her daughter, had no enemies.

"Probably she was under heavy pressure from work," one investigator said. Chow Wen-wei, principal of the girls' high school, said she didn't understand why the intern teacher, who was an alumnus of the school, should commit suicide. "She was well liked by faculty as well as students," Chow said.

1. What do you think was the reason behind this suicide?
2. Why would someone choose a public place like an MRT station to commit suicide?
3. What do you think is causing Taiwan's increasing suicide rate?

For the real article:

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Assignment #13

Ma comment sparks Aboriginal fury

KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou is involved in a controversy over his recent and remarks about the Aborigines of the Amis tribe in Taipei County.

Ma's comments, which several political observers yesterday described as "dumbfounding," were made on Dec. 8 during a campaign platform presentation in Sindian City (新店), Taipei County, when a Sijhou woman pleaded for "President Ma" to prevent the community's relocation.

"If you come into the city, you are a Taipei citizen; I see you as a human being, I see you as a citizen, and I will educate you well," Ma said, adding: "Aborigines should adjust their mentality -- if you come into the city you have to play by its rules."

The incident was exposed when an anonymous source sent video footage of it to Chinese-language Liberty Times on Saturday.

In response to Ma's comments, Sijhou Community Self-Help Association executive director Osay Saoma said that the Sijhou community felt "humiliated."

"The tribe is not happy. Does [he] mean that we were not treated like humans before?" he asked.

More than 200 members of the Sijhou community have resided at their current location at the left bank of the Sindian River for 30 years, but now face relocation since their houses are built on a flood area.

"The Amis people are heroes behind the modern development of cities like Taipei, being migrant workers and helping with its construction," Saoma said. "But now we are being kicked out of our homes in return."

When approached for his response, Ma's campaign spokesman Su Jun-pin yesterday said the media took Ma's remarks out of context and misinterpreted his meaning.

He disputed Saoma's remarks and said Ma had always been well-received in Aboriginal communities.

1. What do you think about Mr. Ma's comments?
2. What do you think about the reaction to his comments?
3. Do you think political candidates pay attention to the needs of the Aboriginal community?

For the real article:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Assignment #12

CLA says it is `infeasible' to cover foreign caregivers

Offering coverage under the Labor Standards Act (勞基法) to foreign caregivers in Taiwan is [not going to work] an official of the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) said on Monday.

The remark came after a protest by several foreign labor human rights groups on Sunday to demand that the government include the 160,000 foreign caregivers working in Taiwan in the labor act.

In response, CLA Deputy Chairwoman Tsao Ai-lan said that unlike foreign factory workers, it is difficult to distinguish a caregivers' working time from their rest time.There would be a lot of disputes if the act were extended to include foreign caregivers, Tsao said.

Tsao also said that foreign caregivers often take care of those who are incapable of moving; so the government cannot require foreign caregivers to take a break after working a certain number of hours.

Meanwhile, she also said that local employers of foreign caregivers should not ask their foreign caregivers to do all of the care work, suggesting the employers to give their foreign employees some days off.

Tsao suggested foreign caregivers negotiate their rights with their employers, noting that if foreign caregivers' rights are infringed upon, they can file a complaint with local labor bureaus.

1. Why does the CLA "suggest" employers give care workers "some days off" rather than make it part of the law?
2. Do you think foreign caregivers should have more labor rights in Taiwan? (they currently have very very little protection)
3. Why are there not more local (Taiwanese) caregivers for elderly people?

For the article, check out:

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Assignment #11

Sudan teacher arrested over teddy bear

A 54 year old British teacher has been arrested in Sudan. She is accused of insulting Islam's prophet by allowing her class to name a teddy bear Mohammed. Gillian Gibbons could face several months in jail if she's convicted of blasphemy under Sudanese law.
Gillian Gibbons' colleagues at Unity High School in the Sudanese capital said they feared for her safety. They said there were reports that young men had already started gathering outside the Khartoum police station where she's being held.
The 54 year old teacher was arrested at her house on Sunday afternoon. State media said she was being charged with blasphemy after allowing her class of 6 and 7 year olds to choose their favourite name for a teddy bear they were using as part of a school project. The pupils voted to call the toy Mohammed.
The school said Miss Gibbons had been following a British educational course designed to teach the children about animals and their habitats. She was taken into custody after complaints to the Ministry of Education.
Unity High School's director, Robert Bulos, insisted that the teacher had made an innocent mistake but he said he was concerned it could have serious consequences. As a result the school has decided to close until January. British Embassy officials in Khartoum are visiting Gillian Gibbons in custody.

1. Why do you think the reaction from the government is so strong?
2. Do you think the teacher was not aware of the possible results?
3. What does this story make you think about?

For the real article, check out the BBC website: