Academics, Activism, Art & Culture, Asian International Affairs, Asian mental health, Current Events, Entrepreneurship, New York, Notable Taiwan Guest, Podcast, Racism and Diversity, Same Sex Marriage, Self-Empowerment, Taiwan, Taiwan Books, Taiwan Citizenship, Taiwan Community, Taiwan Geography, Taiwan Independence, Taiwan Life, Taiwan Organizations, Taiwan Travel, World Health

Dr. Bonny Ling Discusses the Challenges Taiwan Faces Dealing with Migrant Workers Ep 215

By Felicia Lin

A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

Dr. Bonny Ling is a scholar and practitioner who works on international human rights and development. She is Executive Director of Work Better Innovations, a research consultancy with a community service mission working on new ideas for a responsible economy. We spoke about her work with migrant workers, the challenges that Taiwan has faced in dealing with migrant workers, why it is important for Taiwan to address the wider challenges of combatting human trafficking and modern slavery. She also spoke about her forced labor project that is going to take her back to Taiwan to work with SMEs (small medium enterprises) in December. In Taiwan 98 percent of all businesses are small medium enterprises and they employ close to 80 percent of the total domestic workforce. The European Union (EU) defines a small enterprise as one with less than 50 employees and a medium enterprise as one with less than 250 employees.

Dr. Bonny Ling has worked in the UN system and in international civil society. Bonny is a Senior Non-Resident Fellow with the University of Nottingham Taiwan Studies Programme; Research Fellow with the Institute for Human Rights and Business; and Advisory Board Member of the INGO Human Rights at Sea. Bonny wrote her PhD in Law on human trafficking and China at the Irish Centre of Human Rights and is an expert on human trafficking and modern slavery. She graduated from Cambridge University (criminology) and the Fletcher School, Tufts University (law and diplomacy). Bonny has served as an international election observer in East Timor and for the OSCE. Previously at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, she writes on human rights, migrants, business responsibilities and international development and is a contributing writer for Ketagalan Media, New Bloom, Taipei Times, Taiwan Insight and The News Lens.

This episode of Talking Taiwan has been sponsored by NATWA, the North America Taiwanese Women’s Association.



NATWA was founded in 1988, and its mission is:


  1. to evoke a sense of self-esteem and enhance women’s dignity,
  2. to oppose gender discrimination and promote gender equality,
  3. to fully develop women’s potential and encourage their participation in public affairs,
  4. to contribute to the advancement of human rights and democratic development in Taiwan,
  5. to reach out and work with women’s organizations worldwide to promote peace for all.


To learn more about NATWA visit their website:



Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • Bonny’s connection to Taiwan
  • What constitutes a migrant worker
  • The importance of addressing and speaking about hate and discrimination toward migrants
  • The mistreatment of migrant workers who worked on construction for the 2022 Qatar World Cup
  • The terms forced labor, human trafficking and modern slavery
  • The Modern Slavery Act in the U.K. and Australia
  • The definition of forced labor
  • The indicators of forced labor
  • The media coverage on how migrant factory workers in Taiwan were mistreated during COVID
  • How movement restrictions on migrant workers in Miaoli initially applied to domestic workers and factory workers
  • How the movement restrictions did not make scientific sense from a public health point of view
  • How Taiwan is under scrutiny regarding the treatment of its migrant workers
  • How everyone has a connection to Taiwan if you consider the statistic that Taiwan makes 90% of the world’s high-end chips
  • What happened when Indonesia introduced a zero (pre-employment) fee policy for its migrant workers in 2020
  • The international legal definition of a migrant worker
  • Fees that low wage migrant workers are expected to pay
  • How migrant workers are often indebted (due to the fees they owe) before their first day of work
  • In private industry some brands have exerted pressure on their suppliers telling them that they cannot charge workers fees
  • Bilateral discussions between Indonesia and Taiwan in August that led to the increase in the wage for domestic care workers, and the wage for all domestic care workers has been raised in Taiwan but there are some caveats
  • The wage or domestic care workers hadn’t been raised in seven years in Taiwan
  • How Taiwan needs to hire and retain skilled workers for its manufacturing industry due to its declining birthrate and aging population
  • How Taiwan’s treatment of migrant workers is related to its image as a responsible global citizen
  • How Taiwan’s economy largely consists of (98-99%) SME (small medium enterprises)
  • How better wages and working conditions are related to attracting and retaining workers/employees
  • How there needs to be more dialogue and open communication between employers and workers
  • The importance of creating awareness of forced labor indicators amongst employers
  • How to deal with the infrastructure involved with hiring and bringing over migrant workers
  • Bonny’s forced labor project which will bring her to Taiwan in December to educate SMEs in Hsinchu, Taichung and Kaohsiung about the 11 indicators of forced labor
  • SMEs employ 80% of Taiwan’s domestic workforce
  • The case of Taiwanese who lured and trafficked to Cambodia
  • How Taiwan was the first country in Asia to legalize same sex marriage
  • When Taiwan lost representation in the United Nations in 1971, it was Taiwan’s SMEs that drove the economy


Related Links:

Work Better Innovations:


Dr. Bonny Ling on Twitter:


Dr. Bonny Ling on LinkedIn:


FIFA/Qatar: Migrant Workers Call for Compensation for Abuses (an article from Human Rights Watch):


World Cup 2022: How has Qatar treated foreign workers? (an article from  BBC News):


Modern Slavery Act 2015 (from


Modern Slavery Act 2018 (from Australia’s Federal Register of Legislation):


What is forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking:–en/index.htm


Taiwan, Indonesia Spar Over Migrant Worker Fees (an article from the News Lens):


Taiwan’s Employment Service Act:









Hundreds of Taiwanese trafficked to Cambodia and held captive by telecom scam gangs(an article from The Guardian):


Taiwan’s Parliament Legalizes Gay Marriage, A First In Asia (an article from NPR):


United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 (UN Resolution 2758):


Shu-Ying Chung Talks About Filmmaking and her Award-Winning Short (Episode 201):


Suelain and Otter: How to Combat Asian Hate Attacks (Episode 122):

Peter Yang Zhao and Steven Lee Fight to Stop Asian Hate Crimes (Episode 125):

Fight to Stop Asian Hate Crimes Part 2: Peter Yang Zhao and Sergeant Steven Lee (Episode 128):

What to Do if You Are the Target of Asian Hate, Part One (Episode 132):

What to Do if You Are the Target of Asian Hate, Part Two (Episode 133):

About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

Follow Talking Taiwan on your Favorite Social Media Platform!

Book Felicia Lin for an Exclusive Interview

Host of Talking Taiwan and Su Beng Biographer Felicia Lin is now available for interviews.
Her empathetic easy-going  yet deeply-informed style of conversation and mastery of the topics has elevated Talking Taiwan to the Top 5% of all podcasts in the World.
Book Felicia either as an interviewer or an interviewee.  


You may also like:

    • Indeed, in our interview Dr. Ling was deeply reflective and candid in sharing her own experiences as a migrant. A highly compelling account of her journey and hopeful towards a fairer future.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Get in touch

    0 of 350