Asian seafarers’ culture ignored, claims Taiwan professor at Vatican congress


The International Committee on Seafarers’ Welfare (ICSW) has ignored the culture and traditions of south-east Asia, a Vatican seafarers’ congress has been told.

Speaking at Apostleship of the Sea’s 23rd international congress, Professor Nien-Tsu Alfred Hu, Director of the Centre for Marine Policy Studies at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, said: “People sitting in London offices may have to learn how to deal with Asians before they can effectively work with Asians or do their homework before they initiate their projects in Asia.”

The ICSW regional welfare committee was set up and funded by the International Transport Workers Federation Seafarers Trust (ITFST) in 2008 to promote seafarers welfare in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Professor Hu said that meeting the needs of seafarers in Asia requires different structures to those in the West: “In other words, a model which may function very well in one region cannot be successfully implanted to another region, a lateral movement as described in the ‘glass wall effect’, due to some fundamental differences in culture, religion, mentality and others.”

He claimed that the ICSW has been largely ineffective in south-east Asia, citing, amongst other things, problems of autonomy and organisation, an unhealthy relationship with the ITFST.

He claimed that the ICSW was not sufficiently independent. “They seem to listen to and accept the instructions from their funding institution – the ITFST, while the latter has not yet developed a healthy donor and recipient relationship with its recipient organizations, the ICSW in this case.”