Ma to hold new meetings
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will meet one Cabinet member each week starting next week to review their progress in implementing his more than 400 campaign promises, officials said yesterday. Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), head of the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, which is in charge of scheduling the meetings, said the arrangement will facilitate direct discussion between the president and Cabinet members and avoid possible communication gaps. The first of the meetings, set for next Wednesday, will be with Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰), who will brief the president on the planned enactment of sunshine laws and a law that would criminalize the possession of unaccounted wealth by public officials, Jiang said. The media has speculated that the meetings represent an attempt by Ma to involve himself in the alleged money-laundering case involving former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), an allegation rebutted by Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦), who said there was no way the president would discuss “individual judicial cases” during the meeting.
Pastor sentenced for rape
A pastor has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for raping 13 girls and women in his congregation over the course of more than two years, according to a report yesterday. Tang Tai-shen (唐台生), 58, sexually abused the women, the youngest of whom was aged only 14, under the pretext of offering them sex counseling and videotaped the crimes, the Chinese-language Apple Daily said. He was also ordered by the court to undergo therapy for three years, the report said. Eight female staffers, including Tang’s daughter-in-law, who were in charge of recruiting followers to his self-styled church, also received jail terms of between 12 months and seven and a half years for molesting the women, it said. The pastor was arrested last year and has been detained ever since. In 1999, Tang, then a pastor in the “China Holiness Church,” was convicted of molesting a female follower and was sentenced to three years and two months in prison. He was released in 2005 after serving the full jail term.
Group approves plan
The anti-smoking group John Tung Foundation approves of the Cabinet’s plan to increase taxes on cigarettes and expand non-smoking areas in public spaces, but says more must be done to reduce smoking, especially among youngsters. Lin Ching-li (林清麗), the foundation’s tobacco hazard prevention section chief, on Friday praised the draft amendment to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention and Control Act passed by the Cabinet on Thursday to increase the health and welfare surcharge on cigarettes to NT$20 per pack from the existing NT$10.
China reaches milestone
China imported more than 1,005 tonnes of fruit from Taiwan through Xiamen Port this year as of Thursday, surpassing the 1,000-tonne mark for a year for the first time ever, the Xiamen Quarantine Office said on Friday. According to a China News Services report seen in Taipei, the office’s tallies showed that 141 shipments of Taiwan fruit entered China via Xiamen port in the first 10 months of the year, 1.6 times the number of shipments over the same period last year, and the shipments were valued at US$971,000, up more than 25 percent year on year. Taiwan was the No. 1 source of China’s fruit imports through Xiamen port, according to the office’s statistics.
PILLAGING PENGHU: A 7,539-tonne Chinese ship found mining sand in the Formosa Banks area was escorted by several CGA ships to a Kaohsiung harbor The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday announced that it had dispatched ships to intercept Chinese dredging vessels operating in the nation’s territorial waters near Penghu and detained 10 crew members, who were transported to Kaohsiung. A coast guard patrol discovered more than 20 dredging vessels in an area known as the Formosa Banks, 46 nautical miles (85km) southwest of Penghu County’s Cimei islet (七美) at about 5am on Wednesday. The agency responded by dispatching two patrol boats, the 3,000-tonne Kaohsiung and the 500-tonne Penghu, along with two frigates, to intercept the Chinese vessels, while an airborne observation unit was used to monitor
‘HONEYMOON’ IS OVER: A political science professor said that the Tsai administration’s popularity peaked after it successfully contained COVID-19, but is waning President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) approval ratings fell significantly this month in the wake of the government’s handling of the distribution of relief funds and stimulus coupons to people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a poll released yesterday by the New Power Party (NPP) showed. The poll showed that 68 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Tsai’s performance, down 8.9 percentage points from last month, while 21 percent said they disapproved of her performance. Her approval among respondents aged 20 to 29 fell 14.7 percentage points, the largest decrease when compared with other age
CAUTION: The CECC would first observe how the nation fares after easing domestic restrictions and wait for the pandemic to further subside before making its next move The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that relaxing domestic restrictions and border controls simultaneously might complicate efforts to reopen the nation, amid discussions about Taiwan’s exclusion by other countries in their first lists of tourists. The center hopes for there to be a period of observation following the easing of domestic restrictions, before it decides what to do next, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a daily news briefing in Taipei. Chen was responding to a question about the reasoning behind the central government’s decision not to allow foreign students into the
Taiwan respects other countries’ decisions not to include it in their first lists of tourists allowed entry when they reopen their borders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday reported that the Japanese government was considering reopening the country to tourists from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand first. Greece on Friday announced that from June 15, it would allow visitors from 29 countries, including Australia, China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and Germany. Japan has not yet finalized its visitor list, but the ministry has conveyed its hope that Tokyo would