Television

Taiwan immigration use 'soap test' to trap illegals

MUMBAI: Who says soaps are just about hankie wringing? In Taiwan, a hit soap is reportedly serving the immigration department to ferret out illegals.

The Taiwan police are cracking down on illegal Chinese immigrants using a novel search tool - asking suspects to recite a well-known slogan from Taiwanese TV's most popular soap Taiwan Thunder Fire.

A police officer working with the vice squad in Taiwan's capital Taipei has been quoted as saying that the "soap test" helped them in nabbing a commercial sex worker who sneaked into the country from China several months ago.

During the interrogation, the sex worker was asked to detail the plot of Taiwan Thunder Fire and a key dialogue the main protagonist of the serial uses, "If I am not happy, I will send you a tank of gasoline and a match."

"She was totally at a loss," the officer was quoted as saying, about the sex worker's response to the questioning.

Interestingly, the very same soap had been criticized earlier this month because some of its scenes "inaccurately portrayed Taiwanese legal procedure." Taiwan's Judicial Reform Foundation had raised objections to some of the "inaccurate legal concepts presented in the show", and had called for TV stations to "consider their social responsibilities" while producing popular TV shows.

The 90-minute show, which airs Monday through Friday, started on 19 June 2002 and is scheduled to end its run this month. It is currently the most popular TV soap opera in the Far East Asian country and the majority of its audience is located in southern Taiwan.

While this makes for interesting reportage, the issue does raise ethical questions. Is knowledge of the "popular" literature and entertainment common to all residents and citizens in any country? Irrespective of the answer, should such methods, in any way, be used to determine legality of citizenship and immigration?

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