■ National defense
Conscription revision mulled
A revision of the alternative service program for conscripts is in the pipeline, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said yesterday amid criticism from lawmakers. In a breakfast meeting with lawmakers of the Taiwan Solidarity Union, Shih said that under the revised program worked out by the Ministry of the Interior, draftees working for high-tech firms in lieu of military service will get the same treatment as draftees who perform other services. He did not elaborate on the revision, saying only that it has already been submitted to the legislature. Shih also defended the current program, which has been criticized by lawmakers for allowing draftees to work in Chinese factories owned by local high-tech companies, saying that those who enroll in the alternative service program are considered to have retired from the military the day they assume their jobs in private firms.
■ National defense
MND may deploy LACMs
Taiwan has developed three prototypes of a cruise missile capable of striking China, an international defense magazine will report in next week's edition. Jane's Defence Weekly cited local defense sources as saying that the state-run defense firm Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology developed the missile, which has a range exceeding 600km. Dubbed the Hsiung Feng 2E, the missile could strike "as far south as Hong Kong and as far north as Shanghai" if it was deployed on outlying islands, the magazine said. Initial plans were to produce 50 of the land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs) by 2010, and as many as 500 after that year, Jane's said. The magazine added that researchers were working to increase the range of the LACMs to 1,000km, and were also working on plans to create a short-range ballistic missile based on an already existing air-defense missile system.
Physician warns on eating
A physician warned the public yesterday not to overeat during the Lunar New Year festival, citing survey results showing that a significant number of the country's young adults have an "abnormally large waist circumference" and the "fact" that an elevated waistline can lead to "early aging." Hsiao Tun-jen (蕭敦仁), a doctor in Chungli City, cited an almost-three-year-old survey conducted by his clinic on more than 4,000 workers and employees in an electronics factory. The survey found that 12 percent had an "abnormally large waist circumference" -- greater than 90cm for men and 80cm for women. The average age of those surveyed was 33.
Photo rules relaxed
Women who wear headscarves for religious reasons are permitted to wear them in their photos for use in new ID cards, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday. In a move to further relax the rules governing the photos that appear on the new ID cards, the ministry said that those who wear head coverings because of their religious beliefs, such as Catholic nuns or Muslim women, can wear their head coverings in their photos as long as their facial features from forehead to chin are clearly visible. The ministry also said that those suffering from hair loss after undergoing chemotherapy will be allowed to wear a wig in their photos. Last week, the ministry also relaxed its rules by allowing applicants for new ID cards to submit photos showing them smiling and exposing their teeth.