74 Vietnamese who left tour groups found so far: NIA

Taipei, Jan. 11 (CNA) Half of the 148 Vietnamese who left their tour groups after entering Taiwan last month have been located, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) said Friday.As of 8 a.m. Friday, 74 of the Vietnamese who disappeared after arriving in Kaohsiung in four tour groups on Dec. 21 and Dec. 23 had been found, the NIA said in a statement, and they are being held in detention centers around Taiwan.The NIA also urged those who remain unaccounted for to report to the authorities.Many of the Vietnamese who have already been located left their tour groups to try to land a job in Taiwan.NIA Director-General Chiu Feng-kuang urged people not to employ or provide shelter to the Vietnamese, saying such actions would violate the Employment Service Act and be subject to a fine between NT$150,000 and NT$750,000.The NIA has also offered a NT$4,000 (US$130) reward to informants who provide a tipoff that leads to the arrest of foreigners who illegally stay in Taiwan from countries covered in the "Kuan Hung Pilot Project."Six of the missing Vietnamese have been located through tipoffs provided by informants, it said.Vietnam is one of the Southeast Asian countries whose nationals can apply for an electronic visa to visit Taiwan as part of a tour group under the program, which began in November 2015.When the project was first launched, it covered citizens from Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, India and Brunei. It now covers citizens from Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, after Thailand, Brunei and the Philippines exited the program because their citizens were granted visa-free entry to Taiwan.These countries are also included in Taiwan's "New Southbound Policy," launched by President Tsai Ing-wen after she assumed office in May 2016 to boost exchanges.