CDC warns of bird flu
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday urged Taiwanese traveling to Vietnam to exercise caution after the bird flu toll hit 22 on Thursday. The center's warning came as Vietnam's health ministry confirmed on Thursday that bird flu had killed a six-year-old boy from Dong Thap Province on Dec. 30. A nine-year-old boy from Tra Vihn Province also died on Tuesday, the first bird flu death this year. The Vietnamese government has culled nearly 28,700 poultry since the beginning of December, according to the center. Since both cases were in Vietnam's southern provinces, the CDC officials yesterday reminded Taiwan's travel agencies to avoid the south and poultry farms. Tourists who fall ill within two weeks of returning to Taiwan are advised to inform doctors of their travel history and seek medical treatment.
Bonuses draw criticism
Faced with an avalanche of criticism over its employees' bonuses, the Bureau of National Health Insurance yesterday reiterated that the bonus is part of the annual personnel budget approved by the Legislative Yuan, even though the bureau has been operating deep in the red. "We didn't spend a cent of insurance income to pay for personnel costs," said the bureau's president Liu Chien-hsiang (劉見祥). According to Liu, the financial imbalance in the insurance system and personnel costs are two separate issues. The additional year-end bonus of 4.6-months' salary (about NT$200,000) for each employee is paid by the government, whereas insurance income comes from every citizen's pocket, the bureau said.
Communist told to disband
The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) has ordered a Taipei citizen to disband his self-styled "communist organization," ministry officials said yesterday. The ministry issued the order after Dai Chung (戴忠) published an announcement late last year in local media that he had established a Chinese Communist Party Taiwan provincial council in Taipei to advocate communism and recruit party members, the officials said. The order is based on the Civic Organization Law and the National Security Law, which prohibit civic groups from advocating and promoting communism or secessionist activities, they said. Also, Dai did not present a report on the establishment of his group as stipulated by law, thus further violating the regulations, the officials said. Dai should dismiss his group within seven days of receiving the ministry's order, the officials added.
Falun Gong to hold protest
The Taiwanese branch of China's Falun Gong religious group wants to rally 3,000 supporters today to form a human chain protesting human rights abuses, the group said yesterday. The two-hour event, dubbed the "Long Wall of Justice," is designed to protest the persecution of its members by Chinese authorities, the group said. Beijing says Falun Gong is an "evil cult" that threatens to sabotage social order. China has arrested thousands of followers since it outlawed the group in 1999. Today's Taipei rally will feat-ure lawyers who have started legal action against former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) in 28 countries, the group said. Falun Gong says Jiang should bear resp-onsibility for the alleged torture and deaths of hun-dreds of its followers under the crackdown. Today's 6km-long human chain will show pictures of alleged abuse by China, the group said.