Rules eased on foreigners
Effective yesterday, foreign spouses who have received their Alien Resident Certificate need not apply for a work permit before starting work, the Council of Labor Affairs said. The relaxed measure was part of an amendment to the Employment Services Act (就業服務法), which was passed by the Legislative Yuan recently and promulgated by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on Tuesday. Also stipulated in the amendment was that public and private high schools through kindergartens can employ foreign nationals as language teachers. The amendment also relaxed restrictions on foreign blue-collar workers, allowing foreign laborers and household helpers whose visas have expired to re-enter the country after leaving for only one day -- before they were required to leave the country for 40 days before re-entering.The amendment also stipulated that each of the foreign laborers' work periods in Taiwan should not be longer than six years cumulatively, council officials said.
■ Legal system
Fugitive gets SARS reprieve
A Taiwanese fugitive wanted for drug crimes will get to enjoy an extra two weeks of freedom because he was quarantined for possible SARS infection after returning from Hong Kong. The man was convicted two years ago on drug offenses and sentenced to more than seven years in jail, but fled to China, police said. Upon returning to Taiwan, he was immediately identified as a fugitive and taken to the prosecutor's office in Chiayi. But because the man had come from a SARS-affected area, the prosecutor in charge had no choice but to send him home for a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Lu slams Beijing over SARS
Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday blamed Chinese leaders for the worldwide spread of SARS. Speaking to the media after attending a seminar on the aftermath of SARS, Lu said SARS has caused panic around the world, and the danger that the disease could still spread is rising in Taipei. Chinese leaders should be held responsible for the crisis, she said, adding that Taiwan was an innocent victim in this situation. She said Beijing should be condemned by everyone for its senseless opposition to Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization as an observer.
■ WHO bid
Church backs Taiwan
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan pleaded with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches stationed in Geneva, Switzerland, to support and promote Taiwan's entry into the World Health Organization (WHO). The church said in a press release yesterday that even though, as a nation, Taiwan is excluded from the WHO, the government had dutifully and responsibly reported to the WHO and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the SARS situation from March 14, when the first suspected cases were detected here. But it was not until May 3 that two WHO specialists arrived in Taiwan to help the government evaluate and understand the epidemic. The church asked the alliance and its members to support Taiwan's WHO bid, saying the move would not only safeguard the rights of Taiwanese to WHO services but also improve the general health and well-being of all people.