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Taiwan ambassador to Palau accused of mistreating Indonesian housekeeper
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2012-10-04 04:31 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Taiwanese ambassador in the Pacific island nation of Palau, Maggie Tien, was accused of mistreating her Indonesian housekeeper, reports said Thursday.

The case bore strong resemblances to what happened with Taiwan representative in Kansas City, Missouri, Jacqueline Liu, reports said. She was arrested in the US last November on charges of underpaying and overworking two consecutive Filipino housekeepers. Liu spent more than two months in detention before the court accepted a plea bargain and agreed to have her deported to Taiwan in February.

Palau is one of Taipei’s 23 diplomatic allies and is a popular beach destination for Taiwanese tourists.

Ruling Kuomintang lawmaker Ma Wen-chun said a Taiwanese business person in Palau told her about the incident. The housekeeper had filed a complaint against Tien with the Palau authorities accompanied by an official statement about her injuries, Ma said.

The local police was extremely circumspect because the case involved diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and the housekeeper had already left the embassy’s employment and returned to Indonesia, Ma said.

The lawmaker called on Foreign Minister David Lin to launch an immediate investigation into the case before it turned into an international scandal and damaged Taiwan’s image like the Liu case did.

Lin responded that since the Liu case broke, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had asked its overseas representatives to pay more attention to the treatment of staff and to similar incidents. He added that he hadn’t heard of any problems concerning Tien.

She took office in August 2008 and has since played an active role in Palau, raising funds from Taiwanese investors and even helping out with a presidential re-election campaign on the small island, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported Thursday.

A MOFA official in charge of Asia Pacific affairs described Tien as having a ‘rather aggressive personality,’ the paper wrote, while adding that none of her work reports had revealed any problems. He denied any knowledge of the incident described by Ma.

Full details of what Tien was supposed to have done were not yet available, reports said.

In the Liu case, the Taiwan representative was accused of having signed a contract for a Filipino housekeeper to work 40 hours a week for a US$1,240 (NT$36,300) monthly salary, but instead she only paid the woman US$450 (NT$13,100) a month for 18-hour days and six-and-a-half-day weeks. Liu also monitored the housekeeper with cameras and prevented her leaving home without supervision or permission, reports said. She also admitted she did the same with a previous Filipino employee.

The case attracted international attention and was described as a form of modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

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