Wed, Dec 24, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan Quick Take

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

■ Crime

Bomber strikes again

Taiwan's "rice bomber" has apparently struck again, this time fashioning an explosive device using a tea pot and placing it in the men's toilet at Yucheng Park in Taipei, police said yesterday. This is the sixth time over the past two months that an explosive device has been found bearing similar characteristics: a typed note saying "oppose rice imports," and a warning that the object was in fact an explosive device. Local media have dubbed the devices "rice bombs." The previous ones were found in city parks, MRT stations, and outside a government building. Police said that the cycle of the "rice bomber" for each act is about 10 to 14 days, invariably in Taipei. The protest against rice imports are obviously a ploy to draw media attention, they said. Police have not revealed if the devices were armed.

■ Finance

Debt worries PFP legislator

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lee Tung-hao (李桐豪) said yesterday that he and eight other legislators have jointly introduced a bill governing public debt and budgets because the central government's debt is increasing at an alarming rate. Lee said at a news conference that the central government's debt has already increased to NT$3.98 trillion (US$116.6 billion), and is increasing at a speed of NT$1.2 billion per day. It will break the NT$4 trillion mark early next year. The total debt of central and local governments has reached NT$4.7 trillion. He said it is necessary to control government debt by legislation because a high debt can dampen economic development and blunt the nation's competitive edge. More than 70 legislators have endorsed the bill, he added.

■ Society

Human-rights law demanded

Members of several homosexual groups and human-rights activists organizations urged the government yesterday to come up with a timetable for the enactment of a basic human-rights law, which will also protect the rights of gays and lesbians. The groups lodged their appeal in front of the headquarters of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), calling for concrete and effective measures to be taken by the government to facilitate legislation of a basic human-rights law.

■ Diplomacy

Ex-Japanese PM to visit

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori is scheduled to arrive in Taiwan tomorrow for a three-day private visit, a Japanese daily reported yesterday. Mori, who was prime minister between April 2000 and April 2001, told reporters in Tokyo on Monday that his upcoming Taiwan visit would be purely private in nature. The itinerary will include a visit to an old friend of his late father and rendezvous with people in Taiwan's sports and economics circles, the Asahi Shimbun quoted Mori as saying.

■ Elderly

Pension changes approved

The Legislative Yuan yesterday gave the go-ahead to a proposed addition to a government budget on pensions. The legislature approved the additional budget of NT$3.79 billion for an amendment to pension regulations. The amendment had been passed by the legislature and put pensions for former manual workers in line with retired teachers, soldiers and civil servants. "The budgetary approval means that 210,000 former workers will receive their pensions retroactive from July before the Chinese New Year," Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said.

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