Refugees obtain residency
Seventy-eight Tibetan refugees who had overstayed their visas have been granted resident status in Taiwan, the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission said yesterday. Of the total, 40 have received work permits, it said. The commission is still reviewing the applications of the rest, adding that it would provide them with services such as job-matching, emergency aid, medical care and counseling. Amendments to the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法) passed in January provide that stateless people from India and Nepal who entered Taiwan on fake passports between May 21, 1999, and Dec. 31, 2007, and Tibetan refugees who have overstayed their time in Taiwan are eligible to apply for residency certificates. The law was amended after more than 100 Tibetan refugees in Taiwan staged a sit-in protest in December asking the government to grant them asylum.
Wu mulls candidates: Su
Executive Yuan Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) yesterday declined to answer whether Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) had appointed Taipei City Government Research, Development and Evaluation Commission Director-General Emile Sheng (盛治仁) as minister of cultural affairs after the incumbent, Huang Pi-twan (黃碧端), tendered her resignation last month. Su said Wu had been talking to possible candidates. “Anyone who can serve the cultural sector and effectively integrate opinions within the sector is a suitable candidate,” Su said. At a separate setting, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) voiced his support for Sheng, saying that Sheng’s experience in organizing the Deaflympics in September should prepare him for the new task in the ministry. “Sheng has good connections with people in cultural and arts circles after organizing the Deaflympics, and I believe he will do well in the ministry,” Hau said.
Men nabbed over drugs
Aviation police inspectors arrested two men for attempting to smuggle in 6kg of the drug ketamine at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday. Police said the suspects — both Taiwanese nationals — disguised the drug as an insulating agent. They tried to ship the drug into Taiwan from Malaysia as part of a consignment of living coral fish. The two men have been taken to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors' Office for further questioning, police said. Under Taiwan's laws, individuals who produce, transport and sell “category three” banned drugs like ketamine are subject to a jail sentence of at least five years and a maximum fine of NT$5 million (US$153,600).
Master puppets lost in fire
A region that takes pride in its puppetry lost between 400 and 500 of its best pieces to a fire, leaving just one major collection, county officials said yesterday. The fire, which is under investigation, burned most of the large, ornate, one-of-a-kind puppets in a warehouse in Huwei Township (虎尾), Yunlin County, officials said. The blaze spared only a few that had been taken out for a performance. “This is a big part of the county's culture, so we value its survival,” a county government official said. “Each puppet may have had only one or two likenesses, so there's no way to replicate them.” Local media called the fire a “burial” and listed the names of the more famous puppets that were lost in the fire. Officials said the county had planned to promote puppetry via films and a new museum to draw international interest.