Pools not affected by SARS
All public swimming pools in Taipei opened as scheduled yesterday despite severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) fears. Swimmers were required to have their temperature taken before dipping into the thirty-three swimming pools in 13 parks under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks and Street Lights of Taipei City Government. Anyone found to have a temperature of higher than 38 degrees Celsius would be barred from entering the pools. Department officials said the SARS scare hardly had an effect on the number of morning swimmers this year, with the figure being about the same as in the past.
■ Human rights
Lu urges more protection
Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said yesterday that the nation should step up exchanges and cooperation with foreign governments and non-government organizations to further upgrade its human-rights development and protection. Lu made the remarks at a seminar on labor rights in celebration of May 1 Labor Day. While Taiwan has made progress in its human rights protection, Lu said, there is still ample room for Taiwan to upgrade its human rights protection. She hopes the Legislative Yuan passes several critical bills to upgrade the nation's human rights protection to international standards, including three bills on labor rights and the National Human Rights Commission organization statute.
New role for Chang
Former interior minister Chang Po-ya (張博雅) will serve as the chief adviser for an alliance of independent legislators, alliance member Chiu Chuang-liang (邱創良) said yesterday. Chiu made the remark while he and Chang attended a reunion of Taiwan Provincial Assembly members. The event was sponsored by the Taiwan Provincial Consultative Council, which took over the assembly after the streamlining of Taiwan Province in 1996. Chiu said that the alliance will rely on Chang's vast political experience. When asked about her new position, Chang only smiled. Chang has served as Chiayi mayor, a legislator and head of the Department of Health. She was never a member of the Taiwan Provincial Assembly but her mother, Hsu Shih-hsien (許世賢), was.
US paper supports WHO bid
The nation's absence from the WHO is a dangerous gap in the international public-health network, a US newspaper in Florida said editorially on Wednesday. In the editorial "Health over politics," the Orlando Sentinel said keeping Taiwan out of the WHO is a global health risk, because epidemics can reach worldwide. The US, which supports observer status for Taiwan, needs to press the case when the WHO convenes next month, the newspaper said. The Sentinel said that China, which is criticized worldwide for hiding information about the deadly new disease known as SARS, seems desperate to repair its reputation. The country's communist leadership issued a rare apology and sacked two top officials. But it can do better than this to prove it puts public health over politics. "It can drop its opposition to allowing Taiwan to participate in the World Health Organization." In its April 4 editorial, the Sentinel drew the world's attention to the exclusion of Taiwan from the WHO.