Taiwan's defense budget must be expanded as expenditure will exceed the proposed NT$1.67 trillion (US$49.35 billion) budget over the next five years, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday. \nIn the ministry's latest national defense buildup assessment report submitted to the Legislative Yuan yesterday for approval, it was argued that the defense budget had to be increased due to the need to acquire advanced weapons to beef up the country's self-defense capabilities and maintain the strength of the armed forces. \nThe Executive Yuan's annual budget proposal for national defense, if passed by the Legislative Yuan, would still be about NT$380 billion (US$11.2 billion) short of the NT$1.29 trillion regular budget the Executive Yuan has approved, the report indicated. \nIn addition, an extra NT$242 billion will be required in the following five years for the procurement of advanced weapon systems from the US -- including eight diesel-powered submarines, 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft and six PAC-3 Patriot anti-missile batteries -- which is not included in the NT$1.67 trillion budget plan for regular yearly defense expenditures, the ministry said. \nFinancing for the procurement of the submarines, anti-submarine aircraft and anti-missile batteries has been arranged through a planned NT$610.8 billion special arms procurement budget. The passage of the special budget would make up the shortfall. \nMinister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) said a day earlier that if the NT$610.8 billion special budget can be passed by the Legislative Yuan and carried out smoothly, the military strength of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will remain roughly balanced for the next three decades. Otherwise, he said, China will be able to attack Taiwan in two to three years. \nOn the planned arms purchase from the US, the Executive Yuan yesterday said that it does not rule out the possibility of holding public discussions similar to the just-concluded Youth National Affairs Conference (青年國是會議) to discuss sensitive issues such as weapons procurement. \n"Our stance on arms procurement is clear," Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) quoted Premier Yu Shyi-kun as saying during a press conference held after the weekly closed-door Cabinet meeting yesterday morning. \n"That is, it requires rational discussion and open debate to decide the necessity of such a plan and the reasonable amount of money to spend on it," Chen said. \nAlthough a consensus reached in such public debates would not be legally binding, Chen said that it would serve as a pivotal reference during the government's decision-making process. \nYu made the remarks during the Cabinet meeting, after a briefing on the conference presented by National Youth Commission Chairwoman Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君). The conference, held for the first time between Sept. 17 and Sept. 19, is to become an annual event.
FAMILY FEUD: Weng Jen-hsien, who was convicted of killing six people in 2016, was the second prisoner to be executed since President Tsai Ing-wen took office A death row inmate was executed on Wednesday, less than a year after he was convicted of killing six people by setting fire to his home. Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) said that he signed the order and the death sentence was carried out on Wednesday afternoon in New Taipei City. The Supreme Court on July 10 last year sentenced 53-year-old Weng Jen-hsien (翁仁賢) to death after he was convicted of killing his parents, niece, nephew and nephew’s wife and his parents’ caregivers. Weng set fire to his home in Taoyuan’s Longtan District (龍潭) on Feb. 7, 2016, after a family feud
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: The central government is offering subsidies to hotels to house people who have been ordered to undergo 14-day home quarantine Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) yesterday elaborated on the rules for “social distancing” and said that the government is providing subsidies to encourage more hotels to become quarantine hotels. Chen on Tuesday urged the public to practice social distancing by keeping at least 1m apart outdoors and 1.5m apart indoors. If maintaining such distances is not possible due to confined or crowded spaces, then everyone should wear a mask, Chen yesterday told a daily news briefing at the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) in Taipei. The center also suggested that people avoid exhibitions, sports events, concerts and other social
STRENGTH IN UNITY: The Executive Yuan respects KMT legislators’ viewpoints, but has no comment on calls for the premier to step down, spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday accused Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of treating the Legislative Yuan with disdain and demanded that he apologize or step down for saying that KMT Legislator Chen Yu-jen (陳玉珍) is unfit for her job. Prior to a question-and-answer session at the legislature on Tuesday, Su was asked by reporters to comment on Chen’s remark on Monday that Taiwan is not a country. “Then she is not qualified to be a lawmaker,” the premier said. Chen made the remark during a question-and-answer session with Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), when she asked him about his view
At a campground in Nantou County, a team of women are using ropes to shimmy up a towering seven-story tall Chinaberry tree, fighting their fear of heights and reconnecting with nature. Tree climbing remains somewhat niche in Taiwan, but a growing number of women are embracing the challenge thanks to the island’s first international certified female climber arborist. Sylvia Hsu (許芢涵), 26, said she was inspired to set up her own women-only tree climbing classes after seeing the popularity of similar gatherings in Europe. “A women-only camp is a more relaxed environment,” she said. “I was hooked on trees after my first climb...