KMT seeks clarifications
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) camp yesterday urged Presidential Office Secretary-General Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) to clarify within three days allegations that Ma had acted as a student spy for the KMT. Yeh, the campaign director for Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), said on Tuesday that Ma had been hired by KMT authorities to spy on independence activists in the US -- including Carnegie Mellon University associate professor Chen Wen-chen (陳文成) -- when the former was a student in the US. Chen was found dead on the grounds of National Taiwan University a day after being questioned by secret police in 1981. In an editorial written at the time, Ma said the cause of death was either accident or murder. Ma spokesman Luo Chih-chiang (羅智強) yesterday denied Yeh's accusation and said the Ma camp would file a defamation lawsuit against Yeh if she failed to substantiate the accusations within three days.
Scholarship budget frozen
Opposition lawmakers on the legislature's Education and Culture Committee froze some funding for foreign students during a budget review session yesterday. They told the Ministry of Education to present a more comprehensive proposal on foreign student scholarships before they would consider releasing the remaining budget. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Teh-fu (林德福) asked why the government spends millions to aid foreign students while Taiwanese struggle to pay tuition fees. Ministry officials said foreign students who receive scholarships are indispensable because they provide an international perspective for local students. They also said 70 percent of scholarship recipients end up working for Taiwanese companies after graduation. The committee urged ministry officials to be impartial when they are selecting scholarship recipients. Eligibility should be based on academic records, not on nationality because "shoring up Taiwan's diplomacy" was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' job, not the education ministry's, KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said.
Aboriginal expo scheduled
The 2007 Taiwan Aboriginal Tribes Expo is scheduled to take place in Taipei from Nov. 17 to Nov. 24, the Council of Indigenous Peoples said yesterday. The expo will be held at the Xinyi Public Assembly Hall, a former military dependents' village that is now a civic space. The exhibition is intended to promote Aboriginal cultures and to market their products, the council said. Pavilions and stalls will feature crafts and other products, including Aboriginal delicacies. Anyone interested in setting up a stall should contact the council before Oct. 26.
Researchers find enzyme
A National Taiwan Ocean University research team has discovered an enzyme at undersea hydrothermal vents near Turtle Island (龜山島) in Ilan County, which could be used in the production of biomass energy, Tzou Wen-hsiung (鄒文雄), a professor of at the Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, said on Tuesday. The enzyme -- which is derived from Thermoanaerobacterium sp. NTOU2 -- can be used to decompose agricultural crops to produce biomass energy in the form of alcohol, Tzou said. He said the university was applying for patent rights for the application of their research to industrial processes involving the enzyme. He said it would take about one year before the enzyme could be marketed.