Newspaper article China Post

MOFA Should Place Envoy Safety above Int'l Pandering

Newspaper article China Post

MOFA Should Place Envoy Safety above Int'l Pandering

Article excerpt

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In the wake of the murder of a female Taiwanese diplomat in the Dominican Republic last month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is considering raising housing subsidies for overseas representatives that have thus far been criticized as insufficient.

During a hearing of the Legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee earlier this week, Foreign Minister Timothy Yang said that the allowances are unacceptably low because of inflation and the depreciating U.S. dollar.

According to a MOFA report, no overall adjustment has been made to housing subsidies for diplomats since 2005.

The relatively low subsidies have forced Taiwanese diplomats in certain countries to choose apartments located in less central areas that inherently come with increased security risks, he added.

A total of 48 incidents concerning the safety of Taiwanese overseas representatives have been reported since 2010, Yang said. Most of these cases were attempted robberies.

The minister cited poor government finances for this, while documents provided by lawmakers also show that the budget for such allowances dropped from NT$577 million in 2011 to NT$550 million this year.

The minister said he has been calling on the Cabinet to allocate more funds to improve the living standards of overseas diplomats for years. It has been rejected, however, because of budget constraints.

For the safety of our envoys aboard, The China Post supports the MOFA's initiative to raise allowances.

We would also like to point out, however, that the measure is not a cure-all that will prevent similar tragedies like the murder of Julia Ou ([...]) in the Dominican Republic from happening again.

Taking the case of Ou for instance, the diplomat was not living in a high-risk neighborhood and the apartment building she lived in has increased security, including guards.

The truth is, according to the MOFA, Ou had worked overtime on April 16 (local time) and left the office late. It was suspected that she may have been killed by a burglar who followed her home.

Instead of blaming the lack of subsidies for the tragedy, the MOFA should conduct a review to alleviate diplomats' workloads so that they won't have to work such demanding hours. …

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