President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will visit Central America today, bringing more than 7 tonnes of aid for victims of the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince earlier this month, a statement from the Presidential Office said yesterday.
The main purpose of Ma’s six-day visit is to attend the inauguration of Honduran president-elect Porfirio Lobo Sosa on Wednesday. A trip to the Dominican Republic on Thursday was added at the last minute so the president could show the nation’s support to the victims, it said.
During his short stay in the Dominican Republic, Ma is scheduled to meet Dominican President Leonel Fernandez Reyna to discuss assistance for Haiti.
Ma also intends to visit Ambassador to Haiti Hsu Mien-sheng (徐勉生) and Consul Chi Wang-teh (齊王德), both of whom are hospitalized in the Dominican Republic’s capital, Santo Domingo, it said. They were sent there to receive medical attention after being dug out of debris in Port-au-Prince.
Ma will visit Central America from today through Saturday. Ma and the delegation are scheduled to make a one-night stopover in San Francisco before heading to the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, and to make a short stopover in Los Angeles on the return trip, the office said.
During the stays in the US, Ma plans to meet US parliamentarians and local politicians to mend fences with Washington after the US beef controversy, it said.
Meanwhile, after refueling on US territory, a Taiwan Air Force C-130 transport plane was scheduled to arrive in Santo Domingo yesterday to unload relief supplies that will be transported by truck to Port-au-Prince, the Taiwanese embassy in the Dominican Republic said.
In related developments, three volunteers from the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation USA arrived in Haiti yesterday to assess the needs of earthquake victims in preparation for long-term aid and post-disaster reconstruction in the country.
Chen Chien (陳健), a volunteer from the foundation who traveled to Haiti from Miami via the Dominican Republic, said the organization’s headquarters in Taiwan assigned three volunteers in the US to travel to Haiti to assess the scale of the catastrophe and the needs of the victims.
As Master Cheng Yen (證嚴法師), the organization’s founder, sent the trio only on an appraisal visit to determine what the foundation can do to help, the trip was organized with the help of other Tzu Chi volunteers in the country instead of through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chen said.
The most urgent need for Haitian earthquake survivors is shelter, as the foundation’s short-term plan is to erect temporary housing and then select sites for the construction of permanent quake-resistant structures for the survivors in the mid and long-term, Chen said.
The organization has set up a relief supply warehouse in Santo Domingo to quickly deliver relief supplies to Haiti by land, as air and seaport operations in Haiti are still problematic, Chen said.
The foundation is delivering 35,000kg of instant rice to Haiti via the Dominican Republic, Chen added.
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) should not use the government’s disease-prevention policy as an excuse to block people’s access to the Taipei Railway Station’s main hall, the Taiwan International Workers’ Association said yesterday. The association held a protest at the station after what organizers said were about 400 people staged a sit-in on Saturday to demonstrate against the TRA’s proposal to ban sitting on the floor of the main hall. In accordance with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s disease-prevention measures, large gatherings have been banned in the hall since the end of February. After protesters yesterday expressed their grievances at the southern
SEEKING OPTIONS: A Sinyi Realty corporate realty official attributed the spike to proposed legal changes in the territory and the ongoing pro-democracy protests More Hong Kongers purchased real estate in Taiwan last year than other foreigners, Ministry of the Interior statistics showed. The ministry attributed the spike to a proposed extradition law that the Hong Kong government submitted last year, which would have allowed suspects to be sent to China and other nations, which sparked mass protests that are continuing. The rate of purchases last year by Hong Kong natural and juridical persons stood at 40 and 60 percent respectively, with building area purchased by both standing at 47.41 percent and 52.59 percent respectively, ministry data showed. Department of Land Administration statistics showed that Hong Kongers
ZERO TOLERANCE: National Police Agency Director-General Chen Ja-chin said that he ordered Kaohsiung police to investigate reports of planned voter intimidation Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokeswoman Yen Juo-fang (顏若芳) yesterday denounced the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for asking people not to vote in a recall poll against Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), while National Police Agency Director-General Chen Ja-chin (陳家欽) called on police to follow up on reports that gangsters are planning to intimidate voters. Yen said that in an effort to save Han, the KMT has mobilized all of its members, who have increasingly tried to prevent Kaohsiung residents from exercising their right to vote in the poll on Saturday next week. She called on Kaohsiung residents to have the courage
Taipei is to reopen public facilities starting on Monday next week under three conditions, and allow indoor and outdoor events with fewer than 250 and 1,000 people respectively, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) yesterday. The three conditions are practicing social distancing measures or wearing a mask if the proper distance cannot be kept, enforcing a real-name registration system for indoor activities and prohibiting meal sharing, Huang said. All municipal facilities would resume operations under those principles, with the exception of school campuses, she said. School campuses at high-school level and below would remain closed to the public to protect student health, but