Mayor Ko wins landslide support for migrant-worker-friendly policy

Mayor Ko announces migrant-worker-friendly policy. (photo courtesy/ NOWnews)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) announced last week several new epidemic-prevention measures, including one allowing runaway migrant workers to test for COVID-19 without fear of being arrested (and deported).

The new policy that prioritizes containing the virus won major support from social media users, according to a survey released on Monday by online media NOWnews.

The survey conducted from May 14 to May 17 showed landslide support for the new policy with over 97 percent of voters expressing their support for the migrant-worker-friendly measure.

Many of the voters pointed out that adjusting existing policies to better serve people’s interests is not only humane but also necessary, especially in these unusual times.

“Finding out the potential infected cases and cutting off transmission chains is more critical right now than catching runaway migrants”, a social media user said.

Other comments agreeing with Ko’s decision wrote: “If we don’t implement this policy, no migrant workers would dare to come forward”; “Containing the virus is more urgent than arresting illegal migrant workers, let alone many of them were abused and forced to run away by their employers in the first place.”

Others added: “The virus doesn’t care about your nationality, the epidemic can only be controlled if everyone is protected”; “This is a time for all humans to unite”.

Social media users who opposed the policy questioned its effectiveness though. A social media user pointed out that Malaysia had the same policy at the beginning of the outbreak but it didn’t improve the situation as expected.

Some commentators argued that law shouldn’t be easily compromised even in dire situations: “Illegal is illegal”; “What’s the point of having a police force and making a law in the first place if it can be compromised so easily?”

Other people feared that the policy would justify illegal behavior and cause social issues, “illegal migrant workers would only increase if we do this.”