Wang visits Washington
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will put forward its own version of an arms-procurement package late next month that should help lead to full discussion and quick screening by lawmakers on a related bill in the legislature, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said in Washington on Monday. Wang made the remarks upon arrival at Dulles Airport. While in Washington, Wang will meet with officials of the Department of State, the Department of Defense, Senate Taiwan Caucus co-chairmen George Allen and Tim Johnson as well as Senate Democratic Party whip Richard Durbin. He will then travel to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to attend Friday's inauguration of president-elect Manuel Zelaya on behalf of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
DPP appoints more officials
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday announced the appointment of more new party officials. Former DPP legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) will take over as director of the department of culture and information and act as one of the DPP's spokesmen. Hsu Chia-tien (許嘉恬), former secretary to the DPP's new chairman Yu Shy-kun when Yu was premier, will be the director of the department of women's development. Chang Yu-feng (張毓芬), a member of the public survey center, will take charge of the center and Lo Cheng-fang (羅正方), director of the Satellite Informatics Research Center at National Cheng Kung University and a member of the Taiwan Thinktank, will become a deputy executive of the DPP's policy development committee.
Tsai plugs referendum
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) yesterday formally announced his intention to enter the year-end Taipei mayoral election and proposed to include a referendum as part of the party's primary mechanism for mayoral elections. Tsai said that he would team up with another mayoral hopeful, KMT Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴), to file a motion in the party's Central Standing Committee meeting today to modify the party's primary system for mayoral elections. He proposed that candidates be chosen through a local referendum, with a 40 percent weighting, a vote among party members, which would be given a 30 percent weighting, and opinion polls, which would account for a 30 percent weighting. Tsai made the remarks yesterday morning during a Lunar New Year greeting event at the legislative compound.
Group upset at about-face
Conservationists yesterday protested a government decision to partially lift a ban on free plastic bags, saying the move was a setback for environmental protection efforts. The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said on Monday that from March 1, restaurants will be allowed to distribute plastic bags to customers free of charge. "This is a big step backward in domestic environmental education," said Chou Chun-ti (周春娣), head of an environmental group whose membership consists of mothers. EPA officials found that over the past year, restaurants -- which consume at least half of the nation's plastic bags -- had ignored the ban since the agency had too few staff to enforce the policy. "The EPA should come up with solutions to solve the problems rather than dropping it when it is half-way done," Chou said.