Special flights no threat
Taiwan's defense authorities yesterday ruled out the likelihood of a surprise attack by China through loading incoming civilian planes with troops. "The chance of this happening is negligible, as the military has effective counter measures dealing with all incoming passenger planes from China," said Lee Chieh-chia (李界佳), director of the defense ministry's joint operation combat department. He was responding to lawmakers' queries during a Legislative Yuan session over the possibility of China using civilian planes loaded with troops to launch a surprise attack on Taiwan during the Lunar New Year holiday. The lawmakers demanded to know whether the landmark agreement reached by Taiwan and China on Saturday over the historic two-way charter flights would pose any security threat to Taiwan. Lee said Taiwan has the "absolute ability" to safeguard the nation and the military has all the contingency plans ready, including countering a so-called "Trojan horse" attack. However, he declined to review the details. On Sunday, Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said negotiators from the two sides had already committed themselves not to engage in any non-charter flight missions during the time designated for the special flights, between Jan. 29 and Feb. 20.
■ Legal Affairs
Malaysia to take legal action
Malaysian authorities will take legal action against a company that imported thousands of tons of toxic waste from Taiwan using a fake permit, a news report said yesterday. The Department of Environment plans to charge Syn-Enviro Sdn Bhd with illegally importing 12,000 tonnes of waste, which was being stored in 223 barrels at the southern Johor port and in 996 barrels at a brick factory owned by the company, the New Straits Times newspaper said. It quoted Deputy Minister for Natural Resources S. Sothinathan as saying that the government would wait for the courts to decide what to do with the toxic waste. The minister and company representatives were not immediately available for comment. The industrial waste, which contained byproducts from the manufacture of circuit boards, included high density minerals such as copper, lead, nickel, cadmium and chromium. The case was reported in a Taiwanese newspaper last year. In June, Taiwan confirmed that Taiwanese company Hong You Technology Co used a fake Malaysian import permit to get approval to ship the waste. Bringing toxic waste into Malaysia is strictly regulated and permission is only granted if the importer can show it will reprocess the waste. Offenders face fines up to 500,000 ringgit (US$131,600) and prison terms of up to five years.
Taiwan nabs nine golds
The 20th Melbourne Deaflympics ended Sunday after 12 days of competition, with Taiwan's team winning nine gold, four silver and three bronze medals, Chen Chuan-shou (陳全壽), chairman of the Cabinet-level National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports said yesterday. The result was Taiwan's best ever at the Deaflympics, Chen said. A total of 3,200 athletes from 78 countries took part in 16 athletic events, with a 45-member Taiwan delegation showing their skills in track and field, swimming, table tennis, bowling, handball and cycling, Chen said. Former Taipei Deputy Mayor Pai Hsiu-hsing (白秀雄) accepted the Deaflympic flag at the closing ceremony to symbolize that the games will be held next in Taipei.