Police here are twisted in their thinking. They assume that because they wear a uniform that they are unaccountable.
Last weekend, a friend was meeting a visitor from overseas who was staying at the Hyatt, and looking for some nightlife fun, they decided to go to Room 18, one of Taipei’s allegedly more “upscale” places. It is located right next to the Hyatt in Warner Village, so it was a convenient place for them to go.
Well, the idiot cops raided the place, found no evidence of drug usage, but still detained people for TWO HOURS! They also made everybody fill out a sheet, giving details of that person’s identity. Of course, there were only two pens provided for the hundreds of people there. Once the sheets were filled out, the customers were bounced from one incompetent officer to another before they were allowed to leave. When my friend’s guest asked if he could return to his hotel rather than wait, the idiot cops said that they would have to escort him to his room! This guest, being a fairly frequent visitor to the Hyatt, did not wish the staff there to see him being escorted by Taipei’s “finest” and declined the offer.
No explanations were given, no apologies offered, and apparently no arrests were made. Considering that this happened at exactly the busiest time of the week, one can only assume that they were laying the groundwork for a bigger shakedown than what they had previously been getting.
I don’t blame the management for not protesting too loudly, as that could result in a complete shutdown. I don’t blame the local population, as they have been brought up to respect authority, whether or not that respect is warranted.
I DO think that the foreign community can and should protest a little bit louder. If you are in Taiwan legitimately, drug-free, reasonably sober and otherwise “untouchable”, politely ask the policemen for their names and ranks. WHen they get in your face about this, as they most surely will, ask them if this is an illegal request. (It isn’t). Then follow up with a letter to the mayor’s office, detailing the incident, the inconvenience caused and the names, rank and behaviour of the police involved.
The mayor’s e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
(No, I didn’t hack Taipei City Gov’t’s system to get this, it’s available to the public and administered by some of his underlings. I happen to know that he does read at least some of his e-mails personally.)
If you work in an international company, are travelling to Taiwan on business, or if you hove a lofty and/or visible position in the community, be sure to include your own details. Trust me, the city government DOES care about its international image. Face is face, after all.
It would take balls to do this, but can you imagine Mayor Ma’s reaction if he ever got an unhappy letter from a visiting politician? Or from a country manager from some multi-national company? Even letters from less “important” visitors would have a cumulative effect. It wouldn’t take long before the cops started rethinking their tactics on acquiring Hong Bao.
We don’t have to put up with bullsh*t from police just because everybody else does. That being said, make sure that your status as a visitor, guest or resident in Taiwan is immaculate, and that you are polite/civil to the police, or you could find yourself in hot water!