MOFA promotes working holiday safety

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan –The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday reiterated its call to promote safety awareness among Taiwanese youths who plan to take advantage of working holiday programs. Speaking during a regular news briefing, MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (���w) reiterated the ministry’s warning that young Taiwanese who plan to travel abroad on working holiday programs should take out proper medical insurance before they travel. A lack of proper insurance could result in high medical expenses if a Taiwanese national needs to undergo emergency medical treatment or hospitalization in a foreign country where medical expenses for foreigners are often extremely high. Kao noted that the ministry has already worked with several government branches including the Insurance Bureau in setting up a one-step online platform for working holiday goers to purchase insurance online. Also, she noted that when looking for job opportunities overseas, the ministry urges Taiwanese to solicit help from legitimate employment agencies and be sure of work details before signing contracts. �@ They are also urged to follow local traffic rules and to be aware of road safety, especially in popular working holiday destinations such as Japan, Australia and the UK, where traffic drives on the left. Kao’s advice came one day after family members of a Taiwanese man who was rescued after being trapped in a crevice on Uluru in Australia earlier this month called for financial assistance from nationals to pay their son’s huge medical costs. Twenty-seven-year-old Yang Cheng-hsiao (������) returned to his hometown in southern Kaohsiung City on Monday. The tourist fell about 20 meters into a crevice high on Uluru earlier this month and spent the night with multiple limb fractures and head injuries before being rescued by helicopters.

The man became trapped after splitting off from his group to take a shortcut. His family has paid off NT$300,000-worth of medical bills at Alice Springs Hospital in Australia, but still faces around NT$2 million-worth of rescue and aerial transport charges, Yang’s mother said. In addition, her son still requires follow-up medical treatment, she said, adding that the family cannot afford the medical costs without help. Yang’s mother called for assistance from social charities, and promised the family will pay the money back in the future.