Lai allegations dismissed
People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday dismissed allegations that Mainland Affairs Council chairwoman-designate Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) had asked to join his administration if he had won the presidential election in 2000. Soong also denied having any knowledge about Lai’s alleged bid for a legislator-at-large nomination from the PFP. “The speculations about Lai seeking positions from me are groundless and untrue. I hope that the public will stop speculating about the Cabinet lineup,” Soong said in a written statement. Soong made the comments in response to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiu Yi’s (邱毅) accusations that Lai, a Taiwan Solidarity Union member, had asked to join Soong’s campaign team during the 2000 presidential election via a business tycoon’s wife.
Philippines protests visit
The head of the Philippine Senate’s foreign relations committee called yesterday for a diplomatic protest over reported plans by Taiwanese officials to visit the disputed Spratly Islands next week. Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, in a letter to Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, said the planned visit to the new airstrip on Taiping Island “would constitute a provocative act on the part of Taiwan” and violate a declaration by China and ASEAN’s Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. Taiwan is not a signatory to the 2002 declaration, but Santiago said “it is bound by the declaration, which in my humble view has since evolved into regional customary international law.” Minister of National Defense Michael Tsai (蔡明憲) and a group of legislators are planning to visit the island on Wednesday.
Tokyo governor plans visit
Governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara will visit Taiwan on May 19 to attend president-elect Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inauguration the following day, the Sankei Shimbun reported yesterday. Ishihara will depart from Narita International Airport for Taipei, the report said. Outgoing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is scheduled to confer the Order of the Brilliant Star with Special Grand Gordon on Ishihara in recognition of his long-term efforts in promoting Taiwan-Japan ties, the report said. Ishihara is also expected to meet former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and several economists in Taipei and to tour a high-tech park in Taichung.
Temple burglars arrested
Police yesterday arrested five members of a gang suspected of carrying out a string of temple burglaries over the past several years around the nation. In separate raids, police in Yangmei Township (楊梅), Taoyuan County, Chiayi, Taichung and Taoyuan City arrested the five members, including the suspected ringleaders, surnamed Yao and Hsu. The police also seized several items as evidence, including maps and information on the temples that were burgled, lock cutters, telescopes, walkie-talkies, fake guns and computer files with details of further planned burglaries. The members of the ring are suspected of having carried out more than 100 burglaries in which they grabbed over NT$10 million (US$329,000) in cash and valuable temple items, police said. Initial investigations revealed the ring members had also collected information on another 1,000 temples across the country.
Champion kids run set
Three teams of children and parents will be selected next month to represent the country at the Olympic “Champion Kids” run in Beijing in August, sources from the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) said yesterday. The 2008 Olympic Day Run, sponsored by the CTOC, will be held in Taipei on June 15, and will allow children and their parents to team up to take part in a 3km road run. Elementary school students can team up with either their father or mother to take part in the race. The runners will be divided into three divisions depending on age and will run from the Taipei City Government square to Anhe Road. Participants can register at the CTOC’s Web site before June 25, officials said. A total of 300 teams will be selected worldwide to take part in the Olympic road run, CTOC chairman Tsai Chen-wei (蔡辰威) said.