■ Cross-strait ties
Talks needed for Chen visit
Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday said official level negotiations are necessary to arrange a visit by the head of China's State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office. Wu made the remarks after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) filed an application for Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) yesterday. Wu told a press conference that such talks would ensure Chen's security. He said that if Beijing is willing to conduct such negotiations through the Straits Exchange Foundation and China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, the government will also accept this option. The KMT invited Chen to attend a party-to-party (KMT and the Chinese Communist Party) platform to be held in December. Regardless of whether the KMT invited Chen as a Chinese official or as an academic from Beijing University, he would still be the highest-ranking Chinese official to ever visit Taiwan, Wu said.
Rail theft suspect nabbed
The Railway Police Bureau arrested a man yesterday suspected of damaging the Southern Link Line between Taitung and Kaohsiung at least twice in three months, leading to at least one accident. "The suspect, Lee Chung-hsing (李中興), 34, admitted to police he stole the spring-type anchors to sell them to factories gathering scrap iron," said Lee Chen-kwang (李振光), the bureau's deputy chief. "Police visited several scrap iron factories in Taitung County and found 38 spring-type anchors. Factory personnel helped us to identify Lee." Police arrested Lee at his Taitung home yesterday morning. Police said more than 70 sets of the anchors were damaged or stolen in the two incidents. The suspect reportedly told police he stole the anchors for money because he is out of work. On June 21, 14 people were injured when a train derailed in Fangliao (枋寮) Township, Pingtung County, because of a loose rail.
Smoke-free offices urged
The Department of Health unveiled a plan yesterday to promote smoke-free workplaces to reduce non-smokers' exposure to second-hand smoke by 10 percent in five years. According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Health Promotion, 5 million workers, or 25 percent of the total workforce, are smokers, with male white-collar workers accounting for 37 percent, male blue-collar workers accounting 46 percent, and women accounting for 5 percent to 6 percent. However, most workplaces have no designated smoking zones to protect non-smokers. The survey found that 75 percent of people work in places that are not regulated by the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (煙害防治法). Only 13.8 percent of workplaces are required by law to be non-smoking, while only 10.4 percent are required to set up smoking zones.
Kaohsiung MRT backed
Nearly 70 percent of Kaohsiung residents have confidence in the city's mass rapid transit project, despite an investigation into alleged profiteering, according to a new survey by Taiwan Real Survey Co conducted last week. The survey said 86.7 percent of the respondents want the MRT construction to continue, and 69.6 percent said they will use the system once it is completed. Almost 50 percent believe the scandal will affect the safety of the MRT system, but 50.6 percent said they are confident that a thorough examination of the system will help enhancing the safety of the network.