Crime is an odd subject for the first episode of Only in Taiwan. Why not something obvious, like betel nut beauties or Ghost Month? Why pin the needle to the dark side?
My singular response to any hypothetical question is “don’t rush to judge.”
After coming up with the Only in Taiwan concept, I challenged myself, “Name two things that Taiwan has that [my home country] doesn’t.” The first two subjects that popped into my head were universal health care and a very low crime rate.
Granted, at the time I had been confined in a Taipei hospital for three days running and watching a lot more TV than I’m used to. You get a couple of hours of CNN under your belt followed by a Law and Order marathon, and you too might start to believe that people are getting chopped up and turned into sausage like it’s no big deal.
The universal health care issue has been previously discussed in this post. But you almost never hear anything about Taiwan’s crime rate, for two main reasons. (1) There’s not much to talk about, and (2) the majority of crime stories which make the news are corruption-based scandals involving government officials, and those fuckers don’t enjoy seeing their names in print unless it’s on a cashier’s check.
Based on a composite of sources including Wikipedia’s homicide rates by country, the Global Peace Index, and the CIA Factbook, Taiwan is one of the 20 safest countries in the world, and I can tell you first-hand from six-plus years of experience, I can only think of one situation in which I felt threatened or vulnerable, and that was more than partially my fault for hanging out with those dudes in the first place.
Violent crimes such as armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and rape are not unheard of on la isla Formosa, in fact, these things are everyday types of events; but they aren’t so common that the public is jaded to violence. It’s real big news when some college kid snaps and guts his roommate with a meat cleaver. Where I come from, that’s worth a shrug and a “Pass the Doritos.”
However, homicide rates don’t tell the whole story. In fact, there is a shitload of crime in Taiwan; the difference is (a) that much of it isn’t prosecuted because (b) they have their own way of dealing with it. Hence, only in Taiwan.