Prisoner releases down
There were 7,206 prisoners released on parole between January and November last year, down 5.4 percent from the same period the year before, according to statistics released by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics yesterday. In terms of offenses committed by the parolees, those who were in violation of drug prevention laws accounted for the most at 2,458, or 34.1 percent, followed by burglary at 793, or 11 percent. During the same period, 1,682 people had their parole revoked, down 19.4 percent from the same period last year.
■ Cross-Strait Ties
Illegal immigrants nabbed
Ten Chinese citizens -- eight men and two women -- were rounded up in waters off Lungtung Thursday night as they were trying to sneak into the country, Coast Guard Administration (CGA) authorities reported yesterday. Acting on tips, two teams of agents from the Keelung CGA and police from Juifang, Taipei County, began searching the Lungtung coast near Pitouchiao around 7:20pm. With the help of radar, police found the Chinese jumping from a Fuchi Fishing Port-registered boat into a sampan, which had sailed about 350m off Lungtung to pick up the smuggled human cargo. The 10 were brought to a nearby police station for questioning, while the skippers of the two Taiwanese fishing vessels were ordered to sail to Auti Port in Juifang for questioning.
Premier to step down
Premier Yu Shyi-kun said for the first time yesterday that he will not remain as premier after the Cabinet resigns on Jan. 24. Yu told reporters while making an inspection tour in central Taiwan that he has been in the post for three years and that's long enough. "I will be very pleased when somebody takes over my job in the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle. I want to take a rest to refresh my mind," Yu said. He said he is very confident of the competence and dedication of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) administration, adding that the government's work will not be affected by the departure of any single official. Yu and the rest of the Cabinet will resign en masse Jan. 24 to pave the way for the formation of a new Cabinet ahead of the Feb. 1 inauguration of a new Legislative Yuan.
Yu refused to speculate on who his successor might be.
Lu talks up Central America
Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday spoke about government projects in Central America aimed at boosting the electronic integration of diplomatic allies in the region. Addressing a seminar on technological development in Taiwan's industries, Lu said the nation would make use of its information technology know-how and resources to help Central American technological development. The projects include a "Taiwan park," which will bring together local industries in each country, Lu said. While the host countries will provide land, manpower and long-term investment incentives, Taiwan will provide the technology and experience in electronic integration, she said. Taiwan will also introduce a vocational training system and set up a Taiwan Institute in Central America. Lu also said that her pet project, the Democratic Pacific Union, will convene in Taipei on Aug. 14 and that an "e-Pacific" project aimed at narrowing the digital gap will feature prominently.
A man convicted of pushing six Chinese women to their deaths in a bid to escape the coast guard was executed on Wednesday, the judiciary said yesterday. Wang Chung-hsing (王中興) was executed at a Taichung prison. Wang and his crew forced 20 young women to jump into the sea as a coast guard vessel approached their ship off the west coast in August 2003. Rescue workers later found the bodies of six women. As the ring leader, Wang was sentenced to death, while three of his crew members received prison sentences. Appeals failed to overturn the death penalty for Wang, but he never accepted his sentence, a coroner said. "Snakeheads" smuggle Chinese illegal migrants across the Taiwan Strait in boats. Many such women end up working in hostess bars and brothels.