CNA celebrates birthday
The national Central News Agency (CNA) yesterday celebrated its 79th birthday and launched its monthly CNA News Show magazine. Established in 1923 in Kantong Province, China, CNA changed its structure to a non-government organization in July 1996 but still receives an annual government donation of NT$300 million. Originally providing only news and photos in Chinese, English and Spanish, CNA in January ventured into the TV business and now offers news programs to overseas Chinese. In a bid to instill new blood to the organization, the Cabinet earmarked another NT$300 million this year for the early retirement of 80 of the agency's employees and the employment of 20 new recruits.
Thai police arrest Taiwanese
Five Taiwanese and four Malaysians face the death penalty after being arrested on charges of attempting to traffic heroin to the US and Europe, Thai police said yesterday. Anti-narcotics officials arrested the nine in separate raids in Bangkok and the southern Thai city of Hat Yai, seizing 47.6kg of heroin. Police said the heroin was worth 19 million baht (US$452,380) in Thailand but would have fetched 100 times that price if it had reached its destination. The five Taiwanese, four men and a woman, were arrested last Wednesday with 9.6kg of heroin at a hotel in Bangkok's seedy Nana district. The four Malaysians were arrested on Sunday at their hotel in Hat Yai, near the Malaysian border. "These two gangs were working in cooperation and trafficking heroin to the United States and European destinations," said police Major General Adithep Panjamanon.
16 days with no new cases
Taiwan marked its 16th day of no new SARS infections being reported yesterday, bringing it another step closer to the 20-day point that will make it officially SARS-free in the eyes of the World Health Organization (WHO). The death toll from the SARS epidemic stood at 84, the Center for Disease Control said, while the number of infections remained at 678. Thirty-six people were still in hospital. The WHO lifted a month-long warning on June 17 against non-essential travel to Taiwan because of the improved situation, but the nation remains with Toronto on the list of SARS-affected areas. Lee Ming-liang (李明亮), chief of the Cabinet's SARS Prevention and Control Committee, said on Monday that the nation was expected to be delisted by the WHO on Friday unless new infections occurred. With the last reported case on June 15, Taiwan will have gone 20 straight days without a new infection by July 5, meeting the WHO's requirement for removal.
■ Foreign affairs
AIT gets new political head
Melvin Ang (吳錫麟), the new chief of the political section of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), took up his duties yesterday, AIT said, the same day his predecessor, Joseph Donovan, left for Washington. Ang was Donovan's deputy for the previous year. With a doctorate in history, Ang joined the US foreign service in 1987 after teaching at a university for 15 years, AIT said. Ang has worked in US overseas missions in Shenyang, Baghdad, Riyadh, Beirut and Guangzhou, AIT said. Ang was the deputy director of the Office of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs and a special assistant to the undersecretary of state for global affairs at the US State Department, AIT said.