Tooth to get new home
One of Taiwan's largest Buddhist organizations broke ground in Kaohsiung County yesterday on a huge museum to house a relic believed to be one of the Buddha's teeth. Thousands of Buddhist faithful prayed and prostrated themselves to the strains of solemn music as the relic, protected in a golden case, was brought in a sedan chair to the venue of the planned museum next to the Fokuangshan Monastery. Master Hsing Yun (星雲), the abbot of Fokuangshan Monastery, presided over the ceremony attended by dozens of politicians. The museum complex will occupy 50 hectares with the main building standing some 130m tall. A center square will have capacity for up to 100,000 people, the monastery said. The museum is set to open within three years.
■ Arts and culture
Awards face budget cut
The country may have to cancel the 40-year-old Golden Horse Award film festival this year, officials said yesterday. The legislature has passed the second reading of a motion brought by 13 TSU legislators to cut the NT$15 million budget for the festival to be held later this year. The third and the final reading of the motion is expected to be passed soon. Angered by the organizer's refusal to allow President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to speak during the award ceremony last year, the TSU sought to have the entire budget axed, despite an explanation for the move by Wang Ying-hsiang (王曉祥), chairman of the Taiwan Movies Industry Foundation. "We were just following the previous practice of not inviting political leaders to speak on the stage as the event is designed for movie business people," Wang said.
Court to rule on retrial
The nation's high court is to rule today in a retrial of three young men who have spent 12 years in jail for allegedly killing a couple. The families of the three, Su Chien-ho (蘇建和), Chuang Lin-hsun (莊林勳) and Liu Bin-lang (劉秉郎), continued to maintain their sons' innocence while awaiting the ruling that human rights groups have said will be the standard against which the nation's progress in human rights will be measured. The three were convicted and sentenced to death but have continued to protest their innocence, insisting they had been forced into confessing by police. The case of the Hsichih Trio, named after the city where the crime took place, has been controversial from the beginning. On March 24, 1991, a husband and wife were murdered at their home. The three suspects were soon implicated by another man who was subsequently executed for the crime. Human rights groups charge no physical evidence has ever linked the three to the murder.
CLA looks to limit foreigners
The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) plans to ban wealthy families from employing foreign caretakers and offer subsidies to families that are willing to hire local housemaids or caretakers, a senior official said yesterday. CLA Chairwoman Chen Chu (陳菊) made the remark at a panel session of a two-day seminar on administrative reform organized by the DPP. Many participants at the seminar urged the government to curtail the employment of foreign laborers in an effort to lower the unemployment rate, Chu said. Taiwan brought in 6,000 foreign laborers in 1992 and the number of legal alien workers now stands at 317,000. Chen said a complete ban would be difficult as local workers have little interest in working in certain fields.