The reason for my non-reply is that every time I make the mistake of getting involved with cyber chat forums, I always almost instantly regret it. I answer you here simply out of respect for your email today.
As to my thoughts on what I will call a Foreigners Human Rights Group here are the reasons I question such a things viability. And I will go from broad reasons to narrow reasons.
Taiwan does not now, nor will it anytime soon (anytime in my life time- I am 45) have anything which even comes close to a rule of law. Simply put, the Taiwanese do not structure their society around law. Which is fine, they have other ways of resolving disputes. And this place (which I have stopped calling a country, it is simply a place) is not run (I will not dignify it with the word governed) with a rule of law in mind.
Tying in with that is the fact that Taiwans statutory structure, at least as far as I have seen, is a confused, poorly drafted, vague, often contradictory hodgepodge. Often within one Act there will be direct contradictions within a few lines of each other. The image I use when telling tales about Taiwan to my California attorney friends is that Taiwan statutory scheme is like you took the rules of poker, checkers, and golf; slapped them together and said these are the rules to one game. In situations like this the law becomes a kind of Alice in Wonderland nonsense.
Foreigners need to keep the above facts in mind. Beyond the general confusion in the law, I have many, many times seen situations where the law is basically clear; but the snivel servant simply refuses to follow the law. They will cite policy, their specific office regulations or some other excuse. If you press them on it they will simply go into the sullen snivel servant stare face until you are pushed aside from the window by the polite local behind you. Unless you are going to put a gun to their little pointed heads there is no way to force them to chop your document. Pointing to the law is pointless.
The way this place is set up, the law means little or nothing. If you need something done you got to rely on connections or getting lucky. Guanxi rules, not the law. If you intend to live here for any length of time, and this is my stock advice, start to gather guanxi like a squirrel collects acorns. And my other bit of practical advice is to realize that this place is set up and operates fundamentally differently than any western society.
So pressing for legal changes is, in my analysis, a waste of time. Actually from the tone of this letter one might correctly infer that I think Taiwan is destined to be, as one local judge put it, a basket case. Or as I mentioned to one of my editors yesterday, Taiwan is already a backwater of Asia.
But let us say I am wrong and pressing for legal changes would make a difference. Miracles do happen after all. So what about a Foreigner Human Right group? My immediate question is; how would the new one be any different than the ones that have gone before. For example did not a guy named Chris Peck have a Foreign Spouses Group, what happened to it? If I understood correctly it fell victim to personal politics or perhaps we should say the politics of personality. Several people I have spoken with thought that Mr. Peck was an obnoxious dingbat and refused to deal with him. I myself never dealt with him, that I recall. And if memory serves there have been other short lived attempts to form similar groups.
The other problem you got is that the foreigner population in Taiwan is not very stable and the population has very different agenda and needs. An Indonesian maid, a Filipino guy working at a computer factory, an American living up in Tienmu making $200,000NT a month and an 18 year old Oz backpacker working for ELSI English school, do not really have the same demands, the same problems.
The other problem you got is any group will have to get linked up with AIT and or the European Trade Office Association. Those are the only two groups I have ever heard the MOJ or Judicial Yuan really pay any attention too other than international human rights groups like AI or corporate giants like Microsoft or General Electric.
The other problem you got is that the local agencies place foreigner problems on the bottom of the priority list. Which I can understand. Along with this is the fact that this island has (literally) hundreds of Mom and Pop human right organizations; usually run by two people, mom and pop. Forming a human rights NGO is a popular way to beat taxes and gain a little face and have something cool to put on your Big Face Business card. Well, the deal then becomes that government agencies dismiss these type of groups. And unfortunately, they would view this new Foreigner Human Rights group as just another Mom and Pop tax dodge.
Another problem you got is that 99% of the changes that I have seen made in Taiwan are really just empty shows. I could go on and on with the problems but my accountant says I should get paid to type.
Brian bottom line, I am not against it, but I am not going to devote much of my time or mental energy to it either. Do not form organizations, gather guanxi.