Taitung County Police Bureau, Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps

Four Indonesian women were flagged as runaway migrant workers and later arrested for overstaying in Taiwan when their cover as indigenous inhabitants was blown after they failed to reply to police using the Paiwan language.

Late on Tuesday evening, a taxi with four female passengers heading to Guanshan, a township in northern Taitung county, underwent a spot check by police on the South-Link Highway, China Daily News reported on Thursday. When the passengers were asked to produce their identification documents, the four women told the officer they were Paiwan people, members of the second-largest indigenous group on the island.

It happened that the officer on duty was also a Paiwanese, so he spoke in the native tongue to the four women, who were taken aback. He then switched to Taiwanese Hokkien and then Mandarin, but the women remained silent.

The women were finally forced to admit that they were migrant workers who no longer had valid work visas as they had run away from their former employers, The Liberty Times reported.

They said they took the risk of being caught because they had been badly treated. They decided to take a cab and share the NT$2,000 (US$66) fare to travel to Guanshan, where they had heard there were job opportunities.

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