Alishan up in flames
Firefighters fought a forest fire on Alishan for more than 24 hours, Chiayi County forestry officials said on Friday. The officials said forest police were investigating whether the fire was caused by arsonists, as the fire occurred in a remote, uninhabited area. Officials said the fire broke out at about 11am on Thursday near Hsiangshanmei Village. The Chiayi Forest District Office dispatched 34 workers to the scene. As there were no sources of water, firebreaks had to be used to contain the flames. The method, frequently used by forest management services, involves clearing trees, brush and vegetation to leave a path of bare soil so there is no vegetation to feed the flames. By Friday morning, the fire was under control, but firefighters were still at the scene as of late Friday afternoon to monitor the cinders to ensure they did not reignite. About 0.4 hectares of trees and vegetation were destroyed, the officials said.
Kuang under investigation
Taitung County Commissioner Kuang Li-chen (鄺麗貞) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is under investigation as a defendant in a corruption case, the Taitung District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday. Kuang was being investigated for allegedly using government funds for a private trip to the Europe in July, Taitung Chief Prosecutor Hsu Chien-jung (許建榮) said. Hsu said the prosecutors’ office had received “many anonymous tips” about the case since the investigation was launched last year. Investigators would need more time because it concerns many potential defendants in addition to Kuan, Hsu said.
Group seeks safe pet food
An animal rights group is calling on the government to formulate regulations to ensure the safety of pet food following the recent deaths of more than 300 dogs from contaminated food. Huang Ching-jung (黃慶榮), secretary-general of the Animal Protection Association of the Republic of China, said that test results released by the animal hospital at National Taiwan University confirmed an earlier report by the Council of Agriculture that 200 dogs in a shelter in Bali (八里), Taipei County, died earlier this year after eating aflatoxin-contaminated food. Huang said the government should regulate the pet food industry, adding that tests for aflatoxin, melamine and pesticide should be part of the regulations. Hsu Tien-lai (許天來), chief of the council’s Animal Husbandry Department, said there is no law to regulate pet food sold in Taiwan and that the council would draft a bill in six months.
Group heads for Brunei
A group of academics from Mingdao University will head for Brunei on Tuesday to provide guidance on the development of post-modern and organic agriculture in the Southeast Asian country. The delegation, led by university president Wang Da-yung (汪大永), was invited by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei to provide advice on how to develop a sustainable agricultural sector, said Cheng Chieh-ta (鄭皆達), director of the university’s Office for International Affairs. During the four-day visit, the delegation is expected to meet the sultan, experts and officials at a forum on agricultural technology and go on field trips to gain a better understanding of the local geography, Cheng said. The sultan has said that aside from exploiting crude oil and natural gas, the country must also develop sustainable industries, including agriculture, prompting him to invite academics from abroad to exchange views with the government, Cheng said.