Sun, Mar 14, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan Quick Take

STAFF WRITER WITH AGENCIES

■ Crime
Girls offered for sale

EBay halted an auction this week and suspended a Taiwanese user who allegedly tried to sell three Vietnamese girls on the Internet site for a starting bid of US$5,400. The auction, which began on March 2 on eBay's Taiwan site, did not include a detailed description of the goods for sale, but said the "items" were from Vietnam and would be "shipped to Taiwan only." The site included five photos of three people. One dark-haired woman in a white shirt wore makeup and blue nail polish, and the other two appeared to be girls no older than their early teens. The 10-day auction had a starting price of NT$180,000, or US$5,411. Vietnamese activist groups in Australia and the US noticed the listing as early as March 5 and began sending e-mails to women's rights and immigrant advocates around the world. Many of them contacted eBay, and earlier this week customer service representatives pulled the auction. "There couldn't be a clearer case of what's not allowed on eBay," spokesman Hani Durzy said on Friday.

■ Referendum

Dissident fined

Chinese dissident writer Cao Chang-ching (曹長青) was fined NT$500,000 (US$15,000) for publicly lecturing on the importance of the referendum on Friday night, a move considered illegal by the Kaohsiung election monitoring group. Cao delivered the speech on invitation of the northern Kaohsiung chapter of the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU). Accompanied by law enforcement officers, auditor of the Kaohsiung election monitoring group Tsai Chi-ron (蔡枝榮) interrupted Cao's speech several times on the grounds that foreigners are banned from engaging in any electioneering activities for presidential candidates. Refusing to end his speech, Cao said that the speech was not aimed at electioneering for any particular presidential candidate but to show his support for Taiwanese people and Taiwan's democratic development. Huang Chao-chan (黃昭展), chairman of the TSU's northern Kaohsiung chapter, said the punishment was unacceptable and pledged to file for an appeal.

■ Health

SARS remedy mass produced

A product that researchers claim is effective in fighting SARS has been put into mass production, a Tamkang University professor reported yesterday. Adam S.Y. Lee (李世元), head of the Department of Chemistry, said that at present, a chemical compound that is 99 percent pure can be produced in quantities of 10kg per week that can be provided to manufacturers who produce anti-SARS masks and protective garments. Lee noted that the Ministry of Economic Affairs had originally commissioned the National Taiwan University (NTU) to research the anti-SARS product, which was jointly developed by the NTU and Tamkang University last year and has been proved effective in fighting the atypical pneumonia.

■ Infrastructure

LED plan almost complete

A plan to replace incandescent lamps with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in certain traffic lights will be completed in March, creating major energy savings, the Energy Commission under the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday. Once the plan has been fully implemented, 280,000 of the 646,000 incandescent lamps used in traffic lights around the country will have been replaced, which will save 8,000 watts of electricity per year and reduce dioxide emissions by 75,000 tonnes through the savings on electricity, which is usually produced by burning coal.

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