Police may get electric prods
Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) yesterday announced that his ministry will consider the idea of equipping the nation's police with electric prods and tear gas. That way, should police need to confront suspects in crowded areas, they would be able to bring them under control without using their guns. The use of electric prods or tear gas could also prevent bystanders from being accidentally injured, the minister said. Lee said the ministry will review the proposal and map out details on the project's budget and whether electric prods should be assigned to all police or just patrol units.
■ Foreign Affairs
Hong Kong praised for rescue
The nation's representative office in Hong Kong conveyed Taiwan's gratitude to the Hong Kong government over the weekend for having rescued three crewmen from a sinking Taiwan freighter in waters off Hong Kong's outlying islands of Kwo Chau (果洲). The Shun Fa No. 16 freighter was hit by rough seas on Tuesday while sailing past the Kwo Chau Islands, suffering serious damage. The three Taiwanese sailors contacted Hong Kong's marine rescue center for help. The center dispatched a helicopter to the scene, rescuing the Taiwanese before the ship sank. The three men all suffered minor injuries. They have returned to Taiwan after receiving medical treatment in Hong Kong.
Japan food fair coming up
More than 50 Taiwanese businesses from the food industry will attend this year's Japan International Food Exhibition to be held in Tokyo from March 14 to March 17. Foodex Japan 2006 is the largest food fair of its kind in Asia and the world's third largest, officials from the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday. Foodex Japan, held every two years, is expected to attract the participation of thousands of companies from 80 countries and areas this year. Japan is Taiwan's largest agricultural export market, according to the COA. Taiwan exported nearly US$1.3 billion worth of agricultural products to the country last year, an amount accounting for 36 percent of Taiwan's total agricultural exports for that year. A wide variety of Taiwan-produced premium agricultural goods -- such as tea, fruits and vegetables, rice, frozen foods, as well as processed foods and various meat products -- will be on display at the March fair, COA officials said.
US tourists on the rise
The number of US citizens visiting Taiwan has been on the rise as efforts to promote such trips in the US have begun to bear fruit, officials from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York reported. The number of US citizens who visited Taiwan in January totaled 31,248, marking an increase of 7.43 percent over the level of the same month a year earlier. Of the total US visitors, 20 percent were tourists, representing a remarkable increase over the average figure of 9 percent seen over the past three years, said Chang Cheng-yuan (張政源), director of the tourism section of TECO's New York office. Chang attributed the growth in the number of US tourists to Taiwan in January mainly to efforts made by Taiwan's government and private sector in attracting US tourists by increasing tourism publicity around the US in the past year. Chang said the TECO's New York office, China Airlines and two Taiwanese travel agencies jointly participated in the recent New York Times Tourism Show.