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Thu, Jan 06, 2000 - Page 2 News List

OFF THE BEAT

The President and the peach

Calculated by the lunar calendar and filtered through Taiwanese tradition, President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday.

In fact, Lee is only 79 this year, but as Taiwanese custom holds that the number nine is an inauspicious sign, every birthday containing the unlucky number as the second digit is automatically skipped over.

As KMT heavyweights gathered yesterday for the party's weekly Central Standing Committee, they greeted the president heartily as they filed into the party's headquarters.

Later, as Council for Economic Planning and Development chairman Chiang Pin-kung (|?) prepared to give a lecture on Taiwan's economic prospects, he apparently felt he should express birthday wishes to Lee.

"May chairman Lee be healthy and strong on his birthday!" Chiang declared.

In fact, high-ranking party officials said later that they had arranged to have a five-layer cake delivered to mark the occasion, as the 80th is considered a particularly significant birthday.

Lee, however, refused to have any of it, and was quoted as saying that there should be a distinction between public and private occasions.

The party officials had no choice but to make other arrangements, relying on symbolism instead of words. A party official managed to get the president to accept something at the end of the meeting: a "birthday peach."

Two sets of triplets born at Linkou hospital

Two women gave birth to triplets at the Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (林?f長庚醫院) on Monday, bringing smiles to hospital staff on the third day of the new year.

In the first delivery, Yeh Lih-ling (?俐伶), 24, gave birth to triplets -- two boys and a girl -- at 10:15am. The babies were delivered by Cesarean section. Then just 45 minutes later, Chung Shu-li (鐘2Q俐), 34, also gave birth to a set of triplets -- two girls and a boy -- this time through natural childbirth.

Chung and her husband told reporters that they were especially pleased with the arrival of their three "millennium babies" because the pregnancy was the result of a fifth try at artificial insemination. Four of the six newborns are doing fine, doctors said, although two of them are in the intensive care unit because they had low birth-weights.

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