Indonesia freezes Taiwan internship program after students forced to work in factories, eat pork

Indonesia suspends Taiwan internship program after students forced to work in contact lens factory, eat meals with pork

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Students at lens factory. (Photo by Ko Chih-en)

Students at lens factory. (Photo by Ko Chih-en)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- After news broke last week that Indonesian college students, as well as other nationalities, had been forced to work in factories and eat meals that contained pork, Indonesia's Foreign Ministry has suspended internships for its country's students in Taiwan pending a thorough investigation.

On Dec. 27, Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) said six universities have been exposed as sending their students from New Southbound Policy (NSP) to work as manual laborers in factories. Citing one case as an example, Ko said that 300 Indonesian students enrolled at Hsing Wu University (醒吾科大) were only allowed to go to class two days a week and have one day of rest, while working the remaining four days at a factory, where they packaged 30,000 contact lenses for 10 hours per shift.

Ko said that most of the Indonesian students were Muslims and yet, shockingly, many of the meals consisted of pork chops. Moreover, when the students complained to the university, officials oddly asked them to be patient, and said that if the students help the company, the company will help the school.

The Indonesia Trade and Economic Chamber (KDEI) had previously received a complaint from students about the internships going back to the program's beginning in 2017, and in response "the KDEI in Taipei has coordinated with local authorities to seek clarification," said Director for the Protection of Indonesian Citizens and Legal Entities at the Foreign Ministry Lalu Muhammad Iqbal on Wednesday, reported Antara News. The KDEI is now investigating internship programs at eight universities in Taiwan, according to the report.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir has requested that KDEI further investigate the internships, take steps to ensure their safety, and suspend recruitment and placement of students in internships in Taiwan "until a better management is agreed upon," reported SCMP.

Of the approximately 6,000 Indonesian students presently studying in Taiwan, about 1,000 participated in internships at Taiwanese universities from 2017 to 2018, SCMP cited Nasir as saying.

The latest revelations came two months after news broke that 40 Sri Lankan students at the University of Kang Ning were forced to work in a slaughterhouse in Taipei and Tainan.


Tight quarters students confined to. (Photo by Ko Chih-en)