DPP to deal with Wu
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is expected to deal with a disciplinary violation involving first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) later this week, with Wu facing at least a suspension of party membership, a DPP official said yesterday. DPP Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said the party's Central Review Committee had scheduled another meeting for Thursday on the matter after a meeting last week was canceled because half of the committee did not attend. Tsai said that the party's Central Executive Committee had stipulated that any members indicted on vote-buying or corruption charges would have their membership suspended and would then be expelled if convicted. Tsai denied that the DPP's decision to handle the matter quickly was aimed at boosting the party's campaign in the Dec. 9 mayoral elections in Taipei and Kaohsiung.
Heroin hidden in plums
Two local men were arrested at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Friday while attempting to smuggle heroin into Taiwan, aviation police authorities said yesterday. The two men, identified by their surnames of Teng and Chen, had hidden the high-grade Cambodian heroin in preserved plums in their checked-in luggage, police said. Customs officials became suspicious after finding the packets of preserved plums in their luggage, since the products generally originate in Hong Kong and would be unlikely to have been brought in from Cambodia. The officials further examined the two men's luggage and discovered 4.6kg of the illicit drug.
Chen urges FTA with Seoul
President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday said that the time was ripe for Taiwan and South Korea to begin talks on signing a free trade agreement (FTA). Chen made the remark while meeting the South Korean delegation to this year's Taiwan-Korea economic conference at the Presidential Office yesterday morning. He said it was time for talks about signing a FTA because South Korea was Taiwan's fifth-largest trading partner, fourth-largest source of imports and sixth-largest export destination. Bilateral trade volume was recorded at US$18.7 billion (NT$584 million) last year and South Korea enjoyed a US$7.6 billion trading surplus, he said. "Based on this solid foundation, it is the right time for the two countries to talk about an FTA," Chen said. In addition to the annual conference, Chen said that he hoped to see top-level officials of the two countries conduct country-to-country consultation meetings on economic and other issues.
EPA scrutinizing batteries
The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) announced yesterday that it is examining 500 different types of batteries available locally to check if their mercury content falls within legal limits. EPA officials plan to sample batteries from retail stores as well as those stored in warehouses. The testing began yesterday and will continue until the end of next month. Importers and manufacturers of batteries found to contain more than 5ppm of mercury will be asked to withdraw their products from the market immediately. Meanwhile, they will not be able to manufacture, import or sell these illegal batteries anymore. The EPA in September introduced regulations limiting batteries' mercury content to no more than 5ppm.