Face Off: Has anti-masker nonsense infected Taiwan, too?

Normally I would never repost anything from Taiwan News because it’s fourth rate journalism.  But the video speaks for itself, so this one passes as verified.

On the weekend, a foreigner boarded a regular passenger train from New Taipei City (the metro area, not Taipei itself) to Taichung, Taiwan’s second largest city.  Taipei (north city), Taichung (middle city) and Tainan (south city) are three of the four largest cities in Taiwan.  She claimed the mask “made her cough” and pretended not to understand Mandarin when confronted by the train’s staff – after arguing with other passengers in the language.  That’s never a good look.

What’s really astounding about the video is the calmness of the other passengers, the Train Master and other people involved.  This has been the case elsewhere, even as passengers became violent towards the staff and security on various public transports.

Masks have been mandatory on all public and commercial transit in Taiwan (taxis, buses, trains, subway, etc.) since the beginning of April 2020, with a fine of NT$15000 (US$536) and refusal of service for noncompliance.  Most people entering Taiwan in the past year have been returning citizens.  Very few foreigners have been allowed in since March, all either Asian contract labourers, business people with short term visas, or diplomatic staff.  No tourists visas have been issued since immigration was closed on March 17, 2020.  She almost certainly has been here since at least March and knows that masks are required.  And since she speaks the language, she’s obviously been here some length of time or studied it.

Video shows foreign woman lash out when asked to wear mask on Taiwan train

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Video surfaced on Sunday (Jan. 17) showing a foreign national shout at passengers, conductors, and police when asked to wear a face mask and apply it properly, because she claimed masks make her cough.

On Sunday, a foreign woman was seen riding a Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) train bound for Taichung without a mask. When she was asked to wear a mask, she allegedly cursed fellow passengers, made obscene hand gestures, and refused to cooperate with conductors and police officers.

A member of the Facebook group Breaking News Commune (爆料公社), Rex Huang, on Sunday wrote an account of the incident and included photos and videos demonstrating the woman’s behavior while on the train. Huang said that while riding a TRA train on Sunday from New Taipei City’s Banqiao District to Taoyuan’s Zhongli District, he overheard a foreign woman sitting behind him suddenly starting to yell and shout the expletive “f***!”

When he turned around to see what the commotion was about, he saw that a Taiwanese woman was asking a foreign woman to wear her mask, but she refused and cursed at her. When Huang tried to reason with the woman, he alleges that she flipped him off.

When a conductor came to try to deal with the situation, the woman pretended not to be able to speak Mandarin and claimed in English that wearing the mask causes her to cough and refused to wear it. In the first video of the confrontation, she can be seen placing the mask on her face but leaving it hanging beneath her nose, prompting passengers to request her to wear it properly.

I won’t speculate on her mental state nor make commentary about her situation.  But there are no “freedumb” exceptions to wearing masks as some in the US and other countries have argued for.  If you refuse to wear a mask in Taiwan, you can be removed from the vehicle and refused service.  It’s not negotiable.  There’s no information on what happened next, but either she would have to obey to use the train or bus again, or pay through the nose for a taxi willing to take her city to city.

My biggest annoyance with masks on transit is my glasses fogging up.  Oh, it’s such a hardship to put my glasses in my pocket while I’m riding the bus to work. 9_9

True story, personal experience:

A few years ago, I went to do my annual health check which is required for foreigners with work visas.  While there a 20-something male asked me about the form people must fill in:

“It says we have to be vaccinated or get booster shots.  That’s not mandatory, is it?”

After rolling my eyes, I said, “No, it’s not mandatory.  You can always go back to the airport and leave Taiwan.”

He didn’t like my answer, but since it was inside a hospital, he didn’t say much.  I don’t know whether he caved and got a “vaccine injury” or left Taiwan, but I do know he didn’t have the third option he wanted.



  1. says

    My biggest annoyance with masks on transit is my glasses fogging up. Oh, it’s such a hardship to put my glasses in my pocket while I’m riding the bus to work.

    If your eyesight really sucks, then removing your glasses is indeed a problem. As long as you can somehow tell when to get out of your bus/train without seeing much and you can see well enough to not bump into other people, you can remove your glasses in public transport. But shopping without glasses can be problematic when you don’t see what you are buying (at least where I live grocery stores aren’t designed for people people with poor eyesight). My observation is that I see more with foggy glasses than without glasses, which for me means grocery shopping with foggy glasses. By the way, if you live in a cold climate (cold outdoors, heated indoors), trying to clean your glasses is pointless. Of course, grocery shopping with limited sight is much better than getting very sick.

    Still, being so dismissive about the fact that some people’s eyesight really sucks is not the best idea.

    • says

      I’m talking about passengers sitting on a bus, not someone driving it, so this isn’t a case of people being caused harm. Even those who are extremely nearsighted (e.g. me) can still tell where the correct stop is.