■ ETHNIC AFFAIRS
Aboriginal team in US
Representatives of several Aboriginal tribes held a “Taiwan Aboriginal Night” at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York on Friday. The representatives are attending the seventh session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York until Friday next week. Dressed in traditional costume, the representatives briefed guests on Taiwanese Aborigines’ circumstances, and also staged several performances of song and dance. TECO director Kenneth Liao (廖港民) thanked delegates from around the world for their support for Taiwan’s efforts to take part in international organizations. More than 3,000 indigenous representatives are taking part in this year’s forum, which will include more than 300 seminars and friendship-building activities. The theme of the forum this year is “Climate change, bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods: the stewardship role of indigenous peoples and new challenges.” Taiwan’s delegates will host a seminar on Tuesday. The main topics will be justice in land use and the controversy over Aboriginal surnames.
Police arrest gravel gangs
The National Police Agency has cracked 104 cases of willful land damage to reduce the devastation that could occur in the event of a natural disaster, according to an agency report released yesterday. This week the agency raided 33 illegal sand and gravel extraction operations and 71 illegal logging operations, arresting a total of 207 suspects, the report said. Illegal gravel extraction is rampant in Taiwan as demand for gravel surges in the construction industry, encouraged by numerous government construction projects now under way and growing sales in the housing sector, the report said.
Divers missing in Kenting
An all-out search for eight missing divers in waters off Kenting National Park had not yielded any results as of yesterday, coastguard sources said. The eight holidaymakers — six men and two women — were reported missing while scuba diving in waters near Chihsingyen, 22km southwest of Kenting, Pingtung County, the sources said. They left for Chihsingyen along with four other holidaymakers aboard a yacht early in the morning. With the assistance of a diving company, the 12 began scuba diving in waters between Oluanbi and Chihsingyen at 10:30am and were supposed to return to the yacht at 11:30am. However, eight of them failed to return to the yacht on schedule. Strong winds and high currents in the region meant that the skipper of the yacht failed to find the missing divers. The skipper then reported the case to the Hengchun coastguard. Coastguard teams from Pingtung and neighboring Kaohsiung County launched an all-out sea and aerial search as soon as they were informed of the case at around noon.
Wind power on display
Thirteen local manufacturers are expected to take part for the first time in an annual wind energy expo slated for June in Texas, officials from the Taiwan External Trade Development Council said. The council will set up a pavilion consisting of 18 booths at the show, the officials said. The event, Windpower 2008, is scheduled to run from June 1 to June 4 in Houston. It is North America’s largest annual event for the wind energy industry. This year’s participants are expected to include leading manufacturers including GE Energy, Gamesa Wind US, Vestas, Repower Systems AG and Siemens Wind Power.