You see them – the domestic helpers – in different parts in Asia. From Hong Kong to Taiwan, from Malaysian cities to Singapore, you see them working with affluent and ordinary families to do the chores which locals shun. Cleaning, cooking, and car-washing. Some are hired to take care of paralysed and immobile old folks at home.
While performing these tasks, some females are brought into Taiwanese families to serve another function – to be the wives of single Taiwanese young men. This book depicts the stories of the young ladies playing such role.
In central and southern and eastern regions of Taiwan – which are relatively conservative compared to Greater Taipei – the elderly would usually want their boys to get married. For those who are not doing well financially, or those who found Taiwanese girls to be too troublesome, they would opt to look for wives in Vietnam and Indonesia and Thailand. Agencies in Taiwan would approach and provide them with photos of young pretty girls. Once narrowing down their target(s), the agency would arrange a meet-up session in the girl’s native.
Within a short meet-up or two, the girl would have to decide if she wants to marry the arranged Taiwanese guy. Such a decision heralds a new start of the girl’s life.
While some suffer from unequal treatment or discrimination marrying into Taiwanese families, some non-Chinese Southeast Asian young wives found themselves happier in Taiwan.
To date, it is estimated that some 300,000 to 500,000 non-Taiwanese girls of various nationalities married into Taiwanese families. Such a trend poises to diversify Taiwan’s demographic. In my point of view, it enhances Taiwan’s competitiveness in terms of multiculturalism. But sadly, some Taiwanese families just wouldn’t allow their mixed kids to pick up the Southeast Asian mother tongue of their foreign mothers.
Which prompted me to speculate about this. Unless their mothers speak Japanese or Korean, mixed kids – quipped as the new Taiwanese children – can otherwise forget about learning Indonesian or Thai or Vietnamese languages.
While Taiwan vows to reach out to potential business partners in Southeast Asia, it would be great if they put in more effort to try to know more about Southeast Asian languages and cultures.