Navy sergeant honored
Minister of National Defense Tang Yiau-min (湯曜明) received Huang Huei-fen (黃慧芬) yesterday, the first female sergeant in the navy's explosives disposal unit, and spoke highly of her accomplishments. Huang, 26, has become the first service man or woman to be chosen by the navy to attend the Navy School of Explosive Ordinance Disposal in the US and to pass its rigorous training courses and tests. Tang also presented Huang with a medal, saying that since Huang joined the navy's amphibious combat unit, she has worked very hard and has set a shining example to all service members.
Wharf planned for Pratas
The Executive Yuan yesterday announced that it plans to spend NT$140 million to build a wharf in the Pratas Islands in three years to allow large-size cutters and logistics transportation. The Cabinet also agreed in principle to establish an ocean-style national park on the island group. Situated in the South China Sea, the Pratas Islands are about 4,40lkm from the Kaohsiung harbor and 425km from Penghu. The Pratas Islands have a total land area of about 1.7km2 and comprise of four major islands:Peiweitan, Nanweitan and Tongsha. The island group is under the jurisdiction of Kaohsiung City and is a rich fishing ground.
■ Foreign labor
Vietnamese broker jailed
A Vietnamese woman has been jailed for 10 years for running off with US$20,000 in payments from people seeking jobs in Taiwan, court officials said yesterday. The Ho Chi Minh City's People Court found Phan Thi Nen, a 43-year-old employee at the state-run Van Loi Trade and Construction company, guilty last Friday of "appropriating people's property," a court clerk said. Nen pocketed around US$20,000 from 26 people seeking employment in Taiwan last year but then fled with the money after failing to arrange jobs for them, the court heard. She was arrested at the end of last year. More than 300,000 Vietnamese work overseas in 40 countries. Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea account for the largest number of Vietnamese guest-workers.
Reserve training to resume
The call-up of military reserve forces, which was suspended in late April due to outbreaks of SARS, will resume Friday, the Ministry of National Defense reported yesterday. Defense ministry spokesman Huang Suey-sheng (黃穗生) said that since SARS no longer threatens the health of the nation, normal reserve-training programs will be reactivated. First to be resumed will include the "Tung Hsin No. 15 Drill" for reservists, originally scheduled to be held in May, as well as reserve troops training programs slated for June and this month, Huang noted. The military has 800,000 to 1 million people serve annually in the reserve.
SARS delegation leaves
Deputy Taipei Mayor Ou Chin-der (歐晉德), heading a delegation of municipal officials and councilors, left for a three-leg overseas visit yesterday to study measures to prevent a relapse of SARS. The delegation will visit Hong Kong, Hanoi and Singapore to exchange information with health and medical officials in each city regarding how they dealt with SARS. "We hope to learn from their experiences in SARS prevention and control so that we can come up with a more effective response in the event of a SARS relapse," Ou said.