MND announces reshuffle
The Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced a senior military reshuffle on Monday, with the deputy minister of defense, Admiral Lin Chen-yi (林鎮夷), promoted to the post of chief of the general staff. Lin, a naval academy graduate who rose through the ranks to reach the navy's top office before assuming his current post, will replace General Hou Shou-yeh (霍守業), who has been tapped to serve as a strategic adviser to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). Meanwhile, Army Commanding General Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋) will succeed Lin as deputy minister of defense. Chao's position will be filled by Yang Tien-hsiao (楊天嘯), incumbent head of the ministry's General Political Warfare Bureau. The MND said the personnel changes would take effect tomorrow.
Lai to attend St Lucia day
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has named Judicial Yuan President Lai In-jaw (賴英照) as his special envoy to attend the 30th Independence Day celebrations in St Lucia, one of the nation's Caribbean diplomatic allies. Diego Chou (周麟), deputy director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of Central and South American Affairs, said the delegation attending the Feb. 22 celebration would include Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Javier Hou (侯清山), who would depart for St Lucia on Feb. 19. The ministry said Lai would be the highest-ranking official from Taiwan to visit the Caribbean island nation since the two countries restored diplomatic relations in April 2007. St Lucia established official relations with Taiwan in 1984 but the friendship was terminated in 1997 when St Lucia's government at the time switched diplomatic recognition to China.
Winkler eyes legislature
Robin Winkler, an environmentalist and founder of Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association (WaH), said yesterday he was bidding for the Green Party Taiwan's (GPT) nomination for the legislative by-election in Taipei City's sixth electoral district. The by-election is being held after former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) resigned over allegations she still holds US citizenship. The Nationality Act (國籍法) prohibits government officials from possessing foreign citizenship. Winkler, who gave up his US citizenship in 2003 to become a naturalized Taiwanese, is a lawyer by occupation. Winkler, who founded WaH in 1993, is an avid lobbyist for the rights of animals and plants against developing constructions. He also served one term as a member of the Environmental Protection Administration's environmental impact assessment panel. Other GPT primary candidates include GPT Secretary-General Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲), as well as the party's founding member Chang Shu-mei (張淑玫).
Group plans gene bank
An environmental protection association in Taipei County is promoting a project to establish the nation's first gene bank for native aquatic and wetland plants in Wugu Township (五股). The Taipei County Sustainable and Environmental Development Association floated the concept of setting up the gene bank in line with the theme for World Wetlands Day 2009 — Upstream-Downstream: Wetlands Connect Us All, association president Chen Mu-cheng said. Chen said the association hoped the gene bank could help increase public awareness of the fact that the nation's aquatic plants are fast-disappearing and enhance public understanding of people and wetlands.