For the most part, Taiwan, an electoral democracy, presents freedoms to its people. While no teenagers may vote, they know that upon turning 20, they will be able to do so. Although the constitutional right to the vote may exist, people cannot vote in an entirely free manner, as the 2004 elections featured “widespread vote-buying,” the Asian Network for Free Elections commented. Still, the current government plans to crack down on voter fraud.
Freedom of the press exists, and the U.S. State Department has characterized the Taiwanese press as “vigorous and active.” Print media, for example, are completely independent of government control. Most Taiwanese can access about 100 cable television stations, so the state has limited influence over television broadcasting. By mandate of 2003 legislation, government, political parties, and political party officials are even banned from owning or running media organizations. In other spheres of critical and intellectual thought, “Taiwanese professors and other educators write and lecture freely,” Freedom House comments.
The people of Taiwan also celebrate freedom of religion. Religious organizations receive special status, in that if they register with the government, they can achieve tax-exempt status. This status can be acquired regardless of religion, and religious discrimination does not occur in this field.
Individuals may assemble and associate freely, and several peaceful demonstrations have occurred in recent years. All Taiwanese civic organizations – human rights, social welfare, and environmental nongovernmental organizations – freely operate.
Indigenous peoples also receive special protections and freedoms. “Apart from the unresolved issue of ownership of ancestral lands by indigenous peoples, the rights of descendents of speakers of Malayo-Polynesian languages are protected by law, and the government has instituted social and educational programs to help the population assimilate into mainstream Taiwanese society,” Freedom House explains. In fact, the Government enforces a quota system by which any company wishing to acquire governmental contracts must hire a certain number of Malayan aborigines and physically disabled people. The government also plans to reserve six representative seats for indigenous peoples.
The Government rarely infringes on the individual’s privacy. The Government can only search without a warrant with difficulty, and a 1999 law punishes those who engage in wiretapping.
There are roughly 580 internet users for every 1,000 people, and 106 mobile phones for every 100 people.
96.1% of the population 15 and over can read and write.
Government Granted “Rights of Age”
Anyone at least 20 years old can vote.
One must be at least 18 years old to buy or consume alcohol, and those who encourage or allow people under 18 to drink are subject to various fines.
From the age of 19 until the age of 35, one must serve in the military for 16 months. By 2008, however, this military obligation will be shortened to 12 months.
Health, Sexuality, and Dating Habits
In Taiwan, people can expect to live until they are 78.
There are no laws against homosexuality. For that matter, homosexuals can adopt children, and may very soon be able to have same-sex unions. Although the Taiwanese government announced plans to legalize same-sex unions in 2003, it has yet to legalize them. In 2007, the Taiwanese government created legislation banning discrimination against homosexuals. In spite of these laws and regulations favorable to homosexuals, some homosexual rights advocacy groups have reported monitoring and interference in online chat-rooms by the Taiwan authorities.
6.81% of the total population is from 15-19 years old.