A legislative committee yesterday approved a state-secrets protection law but staved off clauses that would allow authorities to seek an injunction forbidding publication of materials considered harmful to national security and to deny defendants the right to cross-examine witnesses. \nLawmakers also failed to agree on the definition of state secrets and the lengths of protection that should apply to them. \nKMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順), who chaired the meeting of the Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, ruled that review of all disputed articles should be delayed until the bill's second reading, which should not take place until cross-party talks have been held to iron out differences over their content. \nThe legislation was prompted by disclosures in March this year of classified National Security Bureau documents showing the bureau has kept budget surpluses to sponsor covert intelligence operations. \nFormer bureau cashier Liu Kuan-chun (劉冠軍), who allegedly pocketed millions of public money before fleeing the country in 2000, reportedly leaked the materials to Next magazine and the China Times. \n"National security must not be used as a pretext to strangle freedom of the press, or the latter may not engage in robust, uninhibited reporting of the government," Huang said of the proposed injunction. \nIntroduced by DPP lawmaker Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), the injunction measure which remains in dispute says authorities may petition the court to impose a temporary ban on publication and dissemination of materials they regard as damaging to national security. \nIt would also allow the judiciary to conduct closed-door hearings and deny defendants the right to cross-examine witnesses, if the court deems such a restriction to be necessary. \nProponents argue such legislation is necessary to rein in the nation's media, which, they say, have shown an increasing penchant for sensational, scandalous stories in recent years. \nWith China constantly looking to annex Taiwan, freedom of the press must be properly restrained to avoid jeopardizing national security, said Chiu Chwei-liang (邱垂亮), a visiting professor at Tamkang University. \nTo that end, investigators raided the offices of Next magazine and the China Times in recent months, moves that drew sharp protest at home and abroad. President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), in a bid to calm the outcry, was forced to quote late US president Thomas Jefferson's remark that, "...were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. " \nThe suggested injunction would grant those in possession of sensitive materials three days to appeal the ban, on which the court would be required to hand down its ruling within seven days. \nAs the clause is bound to infuriate the media, Huang said she does not expect its sponsors to push for its inclusion any time soon. \n"The ruling party is well aware of the enormous political price such legislation would take," she said. \nThe Liu scandal has led to the resignation of former national security advisers Yin Tsung-wen (殷宗文) and Ting Yu-chou (丁渝洲), both of whom held top executive posts in the NSB when Liu's alleged misdeeds took place. \nWhile sharing the need to protect state secrets, committee members differed on their definitions, with opposition lawmakers insisting their scope and duration be narrowed. \nThe Cabinet draft proposes classifying confidential information as "top secret," "highly confidential" and "confidential," which would be kept from the public for 30 years, 20 years, and 10 years, respectively. The limits would be extended, if necessary, the draft says.
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these
DIPLOMATIC MOVES: Beijing is reportedly pressing the state after reports of forming links with Taiwan, while the ministry is also planning to reopen its office in Guam soon A representative office is set to open in Somaliland at the end of this month, at the earliest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday amid reports that Beijing is sending a diplomatic delegation to the east African country. The ministry on July 1 announced that Taiwan and Somaliland would establish representative offices, following a report by the Somaliland Chronicle Web site. It said at the time that the two nations did not plan to establish formal ties. Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi has instructed close confidants to explore the possibility of “mutual recognition between Taiwan and Somaliland,” the Somaliland Chronicle reported
A Belgian man who tested positive for COVID-19 in Taiwan last week is likely to have contracted the disease in Taipei in late June, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health vice dean Tony Chen (陳秀熙) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Saturday reported that the man, who is in his 20s, came to Taiwan for work on May 3 and tested positive on Wednesday last week as he was about to depart. The man in March reported loss of taste and smell, the center said, adding that he worked in Changhua County, but visited Taipei several times,
NEW ERA: Taiwan, which has controlled its virus outbreak, now faces the challenge of safely resuming economic exchanges with other nations, Chang Shan-chwen said People should not focus entirely on having zero new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, but neglect overall control over the disease situation, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said yesterday. Chang made the remark at a forum in Taipei discussing the steps Taiwan should take in the post-pandemic era, organized by the Chinese-language magazine Global Views Monthly. Chang, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), and Stanford University’s Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention director C. Jason Wang (王智弘) each made a presentation, followed by a panel discussion with Chang, Wang and Buddhist Tzu