Taipei--The Executive Yuan has submitted a draft bill to the Legislative Yuan to encourage the recruitment and hiring of foreign professionals, under which foreign artists and performers will be allowed to apply for work permits themselves and will no longer require a prospective employer to sponsor them, a Ministry of Labor official said Tuesday. Su Yu-kuo (???), an official of the ministry's Workforce Development Agency, made the remarks after Simon Whetham, a British sound artist who traveled to Taiwan in June through a "work in exchange for free accommodation" program and worked on field recordings, was found to be in violation of Taiwanese law.
Whetham was invited by two Taiwanese artists -- Ye Yu-jun (???) and Pinti Zheng (???) -- to conduct exchanges with local artists during forums organized by the two in Taiwan to discuss his work and his methods of producing undersea recording equipment with cheap materials after he was granted visa-free entry to the country.
He was provided with accommodation in Taiwan by the two artists.
Whetham was asked to leave the country within 10 days after receiving notification that he had violated Article 46 of the Employment Service Act and the Immigration Act, and he could also be prohibited from entry into Taiwan for 1-3 years, according to the existing regulations.
The incident came under the media spotlight at a press conference held by opposition Kuomintang Legislator Chen Shei-saint (???) at the Legislative Yuan earlier in the day.
Chen said that the regulations not only shut out a professional artist from Taiwan but also left the two Taiwanese artists who helped Whetham come to Taiwan to face fines of NT$150,000-NT$750,000 (US$5,070-US$25,350) because they are deemed as employers in this case and did not apply for a work permit for Whetham.
Su said that to ensure the rights of local workers, the Employment Service Act contains strict regulations under which artists who provide personal services to an employer and get a certain amount of compensation or even no compensation can be deemed as working for the employer and therefore have to apply for work permits. "There is no leeway for "work in exchange for free accommodation," Su added.
The Cabinet is pushing a draft bill on the recruitment and hiring of foreign professionals, aimed at easing the regulations pertaining to visas, work permits, taxes and residency for foreign white-collar workers in Taiwan, Su noted.
After the draft bill is approved by the Legislature, foreign artists will be able to apply for work permits themselves with the Ministry of Labor and will no longer require a prospective employer's assistance, Su added.
Meanwhile, National Immigration Agency official Su Hui-wen (???) said that since Whetham was provided visa-free entry to Taiwan as a tourist, he could not undertake activities in Taiwan for any purposes other than travel and tourism.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel