The referendum proposed by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is meaningful and necessary because it is conducive to the nation's democratic development and helps resolve such major controversial issues as cross-strait relations, Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday. \n"National identification and China's military threat are among the issues most Taiwanese people are concerned about," Lin said. "The planned referendum serves as a pivotal step toward the nation's democratic development and helps resolve such contentious issues as national identification and cross-strait relations." \nLin was commenting yesterday morning on US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's questioning of the motives behind the planned referendum. \nFollowing meetings with Chinese leaders, including Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶), Armitage on Friday told reporters in Beijing that referendums are generally reserved for issues that are either very divisive or very difficult. \n"The wording I've seen for the referendum seems to be neither divisive nor difficult. So I think it raises some questions about the motives of those who want to put it forward," he said. \nArmitage suggested that the referendum was part of Chen's election tactics, saying this would explain why he is moving ahead with his plans despite the US' words of caution. \nIn the referendum, scheduled for March 20 to coincide with the presidential poll, people will be asked whether the nation should strengthen its defenses in the face of China's missile threat, and whether Taiwan should hold talks with Beijing to establish a peaceful and stable framework for cross-strait interactions. \nLin said that, after carefully studying and analyzing Armitage's statements, national security and diplomatic agencies concluded that the questions did not represent any significant change in Taiwan-US relations. \n"The US government has said that it respects Taiwan's democracy and I don't think it's appropriate for the public and the media to `exaggerate' or even `twist' Armitage's comments about the planned referendum to cater to the interests of particular parties," Lin said. \nHe added that Armitage's comments were to be regarded as neutral, because he made it clear that the US government was still stu-dying the wording, as well as the context, of the referendum, since it is a fluid situation. \n"We're not worried about his comments, because we realize that what he said was to reiterate the US policy, which is still based on its `one-China' principle, the three Sino-US Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act," Lin said. "President [George W.] Bush has also made it clear that the US government is opposed to any unilateral action which alters the status quo by either side." \nLin, however, dismissed Armitage's insinuation that the referendum was part of Chen's election tactics. \n"The presidential poll and the referendum are two very different things. It's impossible for us to stop our democratic development simply because of elections," Lin said. \nLin said that the government "fully understood" the concern of the US about the planned referendum and would continue to negotiate with the US government. \n"We fully understand that the US is concerned that the referendum might cause a dramatic reaction from China and that it might affect the stability across the Taiwan Strait," Lin said.
A Taipei veterinarian is urging pet owners to avoid using insecticides around their homes, as their ingredients can be toxic to pets. Commercial-grade insecticides contain pyrethroids — organic compounds similar to natural pyrethrins, pesticides produced by flowers such as chrysanthemums — in quantities that are harmless to humans, but potentially fatal to cats and dogs, Asian Veterinary Specialist Referral Center veterinarian Chua Man-ling (蔡曼琳) said. Even in small quantities, pyrethroids are hazardous to cats, as they lack the metabolic enzymes needed to process them, Chua said. Cockroach sprays and ant traps are especially dangerous to pets as they contain boric acid, she
DOING ENOUGH? The HPA budgets NT$1.3 billion to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but has no separate budget to fight teen drinking, a doctor said The government should step up alcohol education and prevention efforts, and allocate more of the budget to it, doctors said on Friday, citing the high consumption of alcohol among Taiwanese adolescents. One out of four 12-to-17-year-olds has consumed alcohol, said Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology. The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) budgets NT$1.3 billion (US$43.9 million) annually to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but it has not allocated a separate budget for preventing teenage drinking or excessive alcohol use, Yen said. “There is no so-called ‘safe drinking level’ for minors,” because any amount consumed
The Fancy Frontier manga and anime expo held in Taipei over the weekend has sparked controversy, after a participant allegedly contravened the Act on Offenses Against Sexual Morality (妨害風化罪) by publicly exposing her private parts during a photo shoot. The two-day event opened at the Expo Dome at the Taipei Expo Park on Saturday, attracting numerous comic and anime creators, cosplayers, photographers and fans. Allegedly, a female cosplayer who was not wearing any underwear lifted up her skirt and revealed her private parts at an outdoor photography area near the venue. Event organizers said yesterday that to prevent indecent exposure, they have since
DREAMING OF TRAVEL: About 7,000 people applied for the experience, with about 60 chosen for the first flight yesterday, which includes boarding an airplane Starved of the travel experience during COVID-19? Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) has the solution — a fake itinerary where you check in, go through passport control and security, and even board the aircraft. You just never leave. The airport yesterday began offering travelers the chance to do just that, with about 60 people eager to get going, albeit to nowhere. About 7,000 people applied to take part, with the winners chosen by random. More fake flight experiences are to take place in the coming weeks. “I really want to leave the country, but because of the pandemic, lots of flights cannot fly,”