`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.
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.
A Taipei veterinarian is urging pet owners to avoid using insecticides around their homes, as their ingredients can be toxic to pets. Commercial-grade insecticides contain pyrethroids — organic compounds similar to natural pyrethrins, pesticides produced by flowers such as chrysanthemums — in quantities that are harmless to humans, but potentially fatal to cats and dogs, Asian Veterinary Specialist Referral Center veterinarian Chua Man-ling (蔡曼琳) said. Even in small quantities, pyrethroids are hazardous to cats, as they lack the metabolic enzymes needed to process them, Chua said. Cockroach sprays and ant traps are especially dangerous to pets as they contain boric acid, she
DOING ENOUGH? The HPA budgets NT$1.3 billion to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but has no separate budget to fight teen drinking, a doctor said The government should step up alcohol education and prevention efforts, and allocate more of the budget to it, doctors said on Friday, citing the high consumption of alcohol among Taiwanese adolescents. One out of four 12-to-17-year-olds has consumed alcohol, said Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology. The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) budgets NT$1.3 billion (US$43.9 million) annually to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but it has not allocated a separate budget for preventing teenage drinking or excessive alcohol use, Yen said. “There is no so-called ‘safe drinking level’ for minors,” because any amount consumed
The Fancy Frontier manga and anime expo held in Taipei over the weekend has sparked controversy, after a participant allegedly contravened the Act on Offenses Against Sexual Morality (妨害風化罪) by publicly exposing her private parts during a photo shoot. The two-day event opened at the Expo Dome at the Taipei Expo Park on Saturday, attracting numerous comic and anime creators, cosplayers, photographers and fans. Allegedly, a female cosplayer who was not wearing any underwear lifted up her skirt and revealed her private parts at an outdoor photography area near the venue. Event organizers said yesterday that to prevent indecent exposure, they have since
DREAMING OF TRAVEL: About 7,000 people applied for the experience, with about 60 chosen for the first flight yesterday, which includes boarding an airplane Starved of the travel experience during COVID-19? Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) has the solution — a fake itinerary where you check in, go through passport control and security, and even board the aircraft. You just never leave. The airport yesterday began offering travelers the chance to do just that, with about 60 people eager to get going, albeit to nowhere. About 7,000 people applied to take part, with the winners chosen by random. More fake flight experiences are to take place in the coming weeks. “I really want to leave the country, but because of the pandemic, lots of flights cannot fly,”