Tue, Apr 24, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan Quick Take



`Lid amendment' passes

Transportation Committee lawmakers yesterday passed the first reading of an amendment to the Highway Law (公路法) which would require Taiwan Power Co and Taiwan Water Corp contractors to bury the lids of sewage or electricity lines under road surfaces. The amendment would require that the lids be installed several centimeters beneath the road surface, and then the road surface evened out with asphalt. The bill was proposed because many motorists have asked for compensation from the government for injuries or deaths caused by uneven roads. Ministry of the Interior officials tried to prevent the reading of the amendment, saying road conditions would worsen if the asphalt-filling work was not thoroughly executed. If maintenance work was needed on the utility lines, the roads would have to be dug up, they said.


Lawmaker concerned

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator expressed concern yesterday that the Nationality Law (國籍法) could provide a fast track for foreign nationals to become Republic of China (ROC) citizens. Legislator Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) said Item I of Article 3 of the law stipulates that foreigners or non-ROC citizens who remain in the country for more than 183 days per year for five consecutive years are allowed to apply for citizenship. This might open the door to foreign nationals, particularly those hired to work on fishing vessels, or as household helpers and care givers, since these people are now allowed to stay in the country for up to six consecutive years. Wang said the legislature must close this loophole. Members of the Home and Nations Committee said that they would study whether the law needed revising.


Unions demand wage hike

Trade and teachers' groups yesterday urged the government to raise the minimum wage -- which has been frozen for a decade -- to make it more commensurate with the general economic situation and consumer price index. Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions and National Teachers' Association representatives demanded that the government raise the minimum wage immediately to show that it was concerned about the "survival rights" of low-level workers. Union chairman Shih Chao-hsien (施朝賢) said that enormous amounts of capital have flowed overseas in recent years as a result of the government's liberalization policies. The outflow of capital has compromised domestic workers' rights and interests, he said. Shih said the minimum wage, which has remained at NT$15,840 per month, or NT$66 per hour, for 10 years, does not reflect economic reality, including rising inflation.


Smuggling still rampant

Kaohsiung customs agents seized contraband products worth more than NT$42 million (US$1.2 million) in 249 cases in the first quarter of this year, according to the Kaohsiung Customs Office. The high value of the contraband highlights the fact that smuggling remains rampant in the first three months of the year despite a drive by authorities to wipe out illicit imports, officials said. Many of the items, including illegal drugs, unlawful chemical substances and firearms were concealed on shipping boats or inside containers. Some pricey contraband goods had also been disguised as cheaper products by smuggling rings in an attempt to import them at lower tariff rates, the customs officials said.

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