Thu, Jun 03, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Taiwan Quick Take

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

■ Diplomacy

Paraguay ties firm: MOFA

Diplomatic relations between the Taiwan and Paraguay remain firm and solid, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Richard Shih (石瑞琦) said yesterday. Shih was responding to media reports that China has been lobbying Brazil to pressure Paraguay to switch its diplomatic recognition to Beijing. Shih said the reports were speculative. He said Taiwan-Paraguay relations are in good shape, noting that President Nicanor Duarte just concluded a state visit to Taipei late last month. After his return to Asuncion, Shih said, Duarte told the Paraguayan press that his visit was very fruitful and that the two countries will negotiate and sign a free-trade agreement within a year. Asked whether Paraguay is likely to yield to pressure from its Southern Common Market allies to switch its diplomatic allegiance, Shih said Duarte has reiterated on many public occasions that Paraguay's diplomatic ties with Taipei have contributed much to the country's economic development over the past decades.

■ Child Abuse

Yu speaks out

Premier Yu Shyi-kun issued a directive yesterday on the building of a nationwide information and rescue network for the protection of abused children. Speaking at the Executive Yuan, Yu said his heart went out to children who had been physically and mentally abused or had been deprived of human rights as a result of family crises. Yu instructed government agencies to address the matter by having specialists make field trips to communities and households as a first step toward building a nationwide network to protect youngsters. The premier said authorities must intervene to save mentally and physically abused children from families and institutions where economic, marital or social problems had made their environments hell.

■ Communications

People phone China a lot

China was the top destination last year for international calls placed from Taiwan, followed by the US and the Philippines, according to figures released yesterday by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The statistics showed that Taiwanese people placed 3.08 billion minutes' worth of international calls last year -- an average of 8.43 million minutes per day, up 42.8 percent from the previous year's level. China was the destination for 0.99 billion minutes' worth of calls, or 32.1 percent of the total, followed by the US at 290 million minutes, the Philippines at 270 million minutes, Hong Kong and Macau at 240 million minutes and Thailand at 210 million minutes. A large number of Filipino and Thai laborers work in the country, contributing to those countries' high rankings.

■ Politics

Chen to fete lawyers

To express his appreciation to nearly 800 lawyers who aided the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the recount of votes cast in the presidential election, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will hold a series of banquets in Taichung, Kaohsiung and Taipei on July 4, 7 and 9, respectively. Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦), director of the DPP's Information and Culture Department, announced yesterday that Chen would attend the banquets to thank the lawyers for their efforts in the 9-day recount, which set a record for the largest number of lawyers to be involved in a single legal proceeding.

■ Politics

DPP candidates queried

Questions have been raised about some of the 10 candidates the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)nominated on Tuesday for a Kaohsiung City Council by-election. Five candidates are family members or associates of three former city councilors convicted of election fraud in connection with the election of former City Council speaker Chu An-hsuing (朱安雄). Among the DPP's 10 candidates are Hsiao Yeh-chuan (蕭雅捐), who is the wife of former city councilor Chang Ching-chuan (張清泉). Chang was sentenced to 26 months in prison and expelled from the DPP in the vote-buying scandal. Candidate Chao Li-wen (趙麗文) is the wife of former city councilor Kao Tzeng-ying (高宗英) who was sentenced to a six-month jail term. DPP Legislator Lin Chin-hsing (林進興), who was cleared of charges, arranged for his sister Lin Mei-ling (林美玲) and his aides Lin Wu-chung (林武忠) and Cheng Kuang-feng (鄭光豐) to run in the by-

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