AIT hikes visa fee
The fee for applying for the US non-immigrant visa will be raised to NT$3,400 from NT$3,300 as of Saturday, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) announced yesterday. AIT said that the move is a result of recent fluctuations in the exchange rate between the US dollar and the NT dollar, which enables it to charge Taiwanese the same fee as people in other countries.
Dengue warning issued
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday urged people visiting Singapore to remain on alert for the mosquito-borne disease dengue fever, as the city-state is reporting its worst outbreak of the disease on record. Spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) suggested that travelers pay extra heed to preventing dengue fever, and in particular avoid visiting potential mosquito-breeding areas. Foreign wire services reported that the death toll for dengue fever had risen to 11 yesterday, with the total number of reported cases reaching 10,000.
Service term to be cut
The mandatory military service period for conscripts will be cut from 18 months to 16 as of next Jan. 1, Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) said yesterday. Lee told the legislature's National Defense Committee that the compulsory service period will be trimmed to one year by July 2008. He said the military began promoting a volunteer-conscripts mixed system this year and planned to recruit 6,561 volunteers this year. So far it has recruited 67 percent of the target figure. Lee said the ministry will continue to streamline its recruiting mechanism, ease age limits for those intending to pursue a military career, recruit more women and lower the retirement age. He said the ministry will work with the Ministry of the Interior to reduce social problems that may arise when young men have to wait a long time before being drafted for their mandatory military service.
■ Cross-strait ties
Religious groups warned
SinicaThe Mainland Affairs Council urged managers of religious temples around the nation yesterday to refrain from joining a Chinese cultural organization or risk violating Taiwan's laws. Council Vice Chairman You Ying-lung (游盈龍) call followed a council report on China's alternative "united front" strategy of taking advantage of followers of Matsu, the goddess of the sea. You said that the Chinese Matsu Cultural Exchange Association was established last October on Meizhou island, Fujian Province. Its list of executive members included managers of 57 temples in this country. Under the Statute Governing the Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例), religious temples in Taiwan are banned from serving as members of any China-based organizations.
Lee Yuan-tseh to retire
Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) announced yesterday that he wants to retire in October next year when his term ends. Lee made the remark during a briefing to a legislative committee on the draft amendments to Academia Sinica's organic law. Lee said that what worries him most before his retirement is the possibility of seeing a successor "who is not so ideal" head the nation's top research center. The committee passed several of the amendments yesterday but put three articles aside for further negotiations.