Legislator calls for rules
Animal rights advocates and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) yesterday urged the government to regulate animal adoption procedures after a series of kitten abuse cases were reported in Taipei. The call came after a National Taiwan University (NTU) doctoral student was recently accused of abusing and killing kittens he had adopted. Huang said people wanting to adopt animals should be obliged to leave their personal information for verification so that people who give away the animals can regularly check on their living conditions to prevent potential abuse cases. Currently, only organizations such as public animal shelters check the authenticity of adopters’ personal information, said Yen I-feng (嚴一峰), director of the Taipei Municipal Institute for Animal Health. Statistics from government agencies tasked with animal protection showed that 743 suspected animal abuse cases were reported last year, but only 31 were established to be animal abuse cases, Huang said.
MOFA extends visa waiver
Effective March 1, citizens of India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines who hold permanent residency or a valid visa for the US, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia or an EU nation will be allowed to enter Taiwan on a visa-free basis, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday. The new policy, however, excludes citizens of the five Asian countries who have previously worked in Taiwan as blue-collar workers. The program is aimed at boosting the tourism industry by attracting high-income earners. Qualified individuals must register on the National Immigration Agency Web site prior to their visit to receive a certificate proving their visa-free status. Visitors will also be asked to show their visas or permanent residency cards at customs in Taiwan.
Survivor leaves hospital
A Taiwanese man who sustained minor head and leg injuries in the Turkish airliner crash on Wednesday has been released from hospital and is expected to return to Taiwan soon, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday. Ministry spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政) said Taiwan’s representative office in the Netherlands was immediately notified by the Dutch government when Taiwanese businessman Chen Shih-yin (陳詩尹) was found to have survived the crash that killed nine people. The Turkish Airlines aircraft carrying 134 passengers from Istanbul plowed into a muddy field on Wednesday near Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and broke into three pieces. The spokesman said the office has already arranged flights for Chen to return to Taiwan. As of press time, there has been no report of when Chen will travel home.
MOFA welcomes fee waiver
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday welcomed the Thai government’s announcement of a three-month visa fee-waiver starting on March 5 and lasting until June 4 for Republic of China passport holders. In a press release, the ministry said the step would encourage more Taiwanese to visit Thailand and boost exchanges between the two countries. Last year, Taiwanese investment in Thailand was more than US$12.1 billion, making Taiwan Thailand’s third largest investor. The ministry said it would continue its efforts to lobby for visa-waiver privilege for Republic of China passport holders.