Chinese arrested at airport
Three young Chinese women attempting to transit through Taiwan to the US using fake Taiwanese passports were arrested at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Saturday, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) said yesterday. The three women were discovered at an airport gate using bogus passports and fake boarding passes carrying counterfeit departure stamps, the agency said. After a preliminary investigation, airport police discovered that the three had arrived from Hong Kong with travel documents indicating they were transiting to Palau on holiday. Police found the three had canceled their airplane tickets for Palau immediately upon landing and were given the fake passports and travel documents for flights destined to the US by intermediaries. Believing that the Chinese women were being helped by a “snake head” human trafficking ring, NIA officials referred them to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office for further investigation.
Ma praises worshipers
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday praised Taiwanese for showing their thanks to those who had helped them in their time of need. Ma traveled to Jhushan Township (竹山), Nantou County, and visited the Zinan Temple, a Taoist shrine famous for loaning cash to followers in need. The manager of the temple told Ma that more than 430,000 people borrowed a total of NT$250 million (US$7.42 million) from the land god worshiped at the temple last year, enabling them to ride out their financial difficulties. The borrowers had repaid NT$300 million to the temple. After being repaid with interest, temple authorities then used the extra money to bolster charity and public interest drives, including giving out scholarships and subsidies to youths from low-income families, financially supporting carers for the elderly and other social programs.
Pet owners offered subsidies
Kaohsiung City Government will offer subsidies to 1,000 residents of the city to neuter their dogs and cats this year, the city government said yesterday. Any resident older than 15 can apply for the stipends starting from today for as many as three pets, the Kaohsiung Municipal Institute for Animal Health said in a press release. The subsidy for a female cat or dog is NT$1,000, while that for a male cat or dog is NT$500, the institute said. Applications will close on Nov. 30, the institute said. Liu Hsin-cheng (劉馨正), director-general of the city’s Economic Development Bureau, which supervises the institute, said the city government was continuing to offer the stipends in a bid to reduce the number of unwanted pet pregnancies and the numbers of strays.
Zoo to be renovated
Shoushan Zoo — the biggest public zoo in the south — will be closed for renovations for several months starting today, the Kaohsiung City Government said yesterday. The renovations at the 30-year-old zoo are expected to take up to nine months and cost as much as NT$150 million (US$4.4 million) Scenic Area Administration of Kaohsiung City Director-General Lin Kun-shan (林崑山) said. Lin said the renovations — the most comprehensive since the zoo was established in 1978 — were taking place because there was a significant difference between the living environment of the zoo’s animals and their original habitats. Lin dismissed media speculation that the zoo was preparing to accept two white tigers offered by a Chinese zoo.