Paal honored with medal
American Institute in Taiwan Director Douglas Paal yesterday received a medal of the Order of the Brilliant Star from President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who expressed his appreciation for Paal's contribution to the improvement of relations between Taiwan and the US. Paal said that during his three-and-a-half years in Taiwan, he has been fully supported by the president, who kept communication channels open at all times. Paal said that collaboration between the two countries has been significantly improved, especially in the fields of law enforcement, business, technology and security. He said that his most important goal in Taiwan has been maintaining peace in the region. Paal is expected to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today to say goodbye to the staff he has worked with.
Chen expecting grandchild
Chen Hsing-yu (陳幸妤), President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) only daughter, is expecting her third child. The president yesterday told the media that his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), had been very surprised to learn about the pregnancy. "They've got three-year-old Chao Yi-an (趙翊安) and one-year-old Yi-ting (翊廷). Now the name for the third child could be Chao Yi-wai (趙意外)," the president said. "Yi-wai" means "accident" in Mandarin. "Perhaps the first family has set a good example to boost the population of Taiwan," the president said. Statistics released in the middle of last year show 216,419 babies were born in Taiwan in 2004. The birth rate was 9.56 births per 1,000 people. Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘), the president's son-in-law, said in a TV interview that his wife is 14 weeks pregnant.
No Olympic events in Taiwan
A government official yesterday ruled out the possibility that any of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games events would be held in Taiwan. Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Minister Johnnason Liu (劉德勳) quoted the National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (NCPFS) as saying that according to Beijing's plans, all events except sailing and showjumping will take place in Beijing. The sailing event is slated to be held in Qindao, Shandong Province, while the equestrian events will be held in Hong Kong. As to whether the Olympic Torch relay would pass through Taiwan, Liu said that both the MAC and the NCPFS have been paying close attention to China's arrangements for the relay.
Ma vows to be reasonable
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promised that his party's dealings with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will be "rational and reasonable." Ma made the remarks during a lunch gathering with a group of retired military leaders. However, Ma expressed suspicion over the new Cabinet to be led by former DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) that will be sworn in tomorrow. Saying that he has no intention of "singing the blues" about the new Cabinet, Ma added, however, that Taiwan had gone backwards over the past six years under the DPP's governance. He said that both he and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) share the view that Taiwan must maintain sufficient national defences to counter China's military threat. The KMT will not oppose the government increasing its military spending to 3 percent of GDP should national finances allow, he said.