Well, when I first came to Taiwan which was a number of years ago, telling a gangster apart from a cop was a very difficult thing to do.
In Kaohsiung I had a bike stolen. I reported it to the police on the very same night and they were reluctant to file a report.
After a couple of hours I finally managed to get the report filed. Two weeks went by and there was no news of the bike so I went to the police station to see what was going on.
I spoke to an officer who told me they’d found the bike and it was in a holding place and I’d have to pay 3000NT to get it returned.
I questioned this and asked to see the bike but I was refused. To cut a long story short, the bike hadn’t been found (or if it had, the police sold it) and they were just con merchants after a quick buck from a naive foreigner.
I had a traffic accident in Taichung which was blatantly not my fault (motorcycle v’s scooter). The scooter came out of nowhere from a side road with no lights on at night and I ploughed straight into it.
The police and even the courts were supportive of me and actually on my side for the whole time (there were injuries to me and the two jesters on the other bike). All the evidence and positive noises from the courts suggested that I was not in anyway to blame and a preliminary hearing blamed the other party.
However, as if by magic (or as if by fat Hon Bao), the court blamed me 100% for the accident and I was ordered to pay something in the region of $200,000NT.
It doesn’t take a genious to work out what happened behind the scenes.
Now compare this with my recent escapades involving police in Taiwan.
Not long ago I found a thief rifling through my saddlebags at two o’clock in the morning and some scooters had also had their lids popped.
The thief was bin lang stained, tattooed and had a knife on him (unbeknown to me at the time).
So I caught him as he was trying to get away and I pushed him off his scooter. Then I held him on the floor. He was bleeding from his knees, he sprained his wrist, his nose was bleeding and he had a gash on his head from when he fell off the bike. I think I also punched him in the face.
Some neighbours heard the commotion and called the police who arrived within two minutes - two on scooters and a car turned up.
The man was arrested, taken to the station and locked up. I made a statement. They told me that even if I didn’t want to press charges, they would.
Needless to say I was impressed. There was no expected counter sue from the criminal for being knocked about because the police wouldn’t let him - or told him it wasn’t in his interests.
Two weeks later I have a letter from the court saying he’s been put away in gaol for a month. Cool.
And finally, only last month I had an accident where a car turned left across my path. It was a sooped up gangsta affair - a Merc with mods and the mirrored number plates - the kind you don’t really mess with.
My bike was totalled and initially the man driving - unsavoury to say the least - started mouthing off as to why I should have waited for him because he was turning left and I should have seen him.
The police arrive and draw up the scene, mark the road and take a statement from a shop keeper. A few minutes later, gangsta man is all nice and apologetic and admits to being wrong.
I go to the police station the next day and the police have asked him (because he admitted guilt) to pay for my bike to be repaired - $25,000NT’s worth - I sign a form and everything is OK.
I even get a phone call from the officer in charge three days later, asking if I am OK and if I need anything, just give the station a ring.
There is also something ongoing which I can’t really mention, but this is being handled very well too.
So from my point of veiw, I’m very impressed and I hope it continues for the rest of my stay here.
There are still many links with the police and ganters here, especially higher up the ladder. But thankfully it seems the gap is getting wider and wider