Singapore expects conflict
The chances of armed conflict across the Taiwan Strait are high, Singapore's government said yesterday, warning that such a con-frontation would derail Asia's economic growth. "Taiwan appears to be taking steps to move permanently away from China. The risk of a miscalculation leading to military conflict is high in the next few years," Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong (吳作棟) said in an address to staff at the central bank. Goh, who handed the premiership to Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) last August, was named head of the Monetary Authority of Singapore during that transition. His remarks yesterday mapped out the body's priorities for the next five years and included a survey of the security situation in Asia. Goh said yesterday that the economic fallout of a conflict would be devastating. "The conse-quences of such a war will make the war in Iraq look like a skirmish. Asia will be in turmoil. Its development will be set back for many years," Goh said.
Foreign stars being checked
Authorities are creating a new monitoring system to keep track of work permits issued to foreigners in a move to clamp down on tax evasion, especially by overseas entertainers, reports said yesterday. Reports said the new move is aimed at entertainers from Hong Kong, South Korea and China who have collected millions of dollars from shooting commercials or attending product launches here. A tax bureau official, who declined to be named, confirmed that labor authorities would pro-vide information to monitor income-tax payments by foreign nationals. The tax bureau has started auditing this year's income tax filings, reportedly with a focus on entertainers and dentists. But the official declined to say if any foreign entertainers were being investigated for alleged tax evasion. Foreigners on work visas are subject to a 20-percent income tax rate for each stay of less than 183 days, and failure to file taxes will lead to a 100 to 300 percent fine.
Group headed for tuna meet
Taiwan will organize an official group to attend the first meeting of the West and Central Pacific Tuna Commission as a formal member of the regional organization, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday. Department of International Organizations Deputy Director-General Chie Wen-chi (介文汲) said the meeting will open Dec. 9 and added that the delegation will comprise officials of the ministry and of the Fisheries Admini-stration. Chie said the government signed a convention to set up a regional commission dedicated to tuna conser-vation and the development of the tuna industry, along with another 28 countries.
Tainan tops for spoonbills
The wetlands in Tainan County still have the largest number of black-faced spoonbills in the world, with a total of 727 of the rare migratory birds having arrived there to winter as of last Friday, according to the private Happy Family organi-zation, which groups wild-bird fans to promote wildlife conservation. A total of 605 black-faced spoonbills have been sighted at the Chiku wetlands, while another 122 have been sighted near the Sitsao wetlands area of Tainan City so far this year. According to a global survey conducted in January of this year, only 1,206 black-faced spoonbills remain in the world.