BTCO to stop passport work
From May 17, UK passport applications for British nationals will no longer be handled by the British Trade and Cultural Office (BTCO) and will need to be sent directly by the applicant to a regional passport processing center in Hong Kong, the UK’s representative office in Taiwan announced yesterday. The office will no longer accept passport applications from British nationals, said the BTCO, Britain’s official authority in Taiwan in the absence of bilateral diplomatic ties. Previously, the BTCO acted as a middleman for British passport applications in Taipei, accepting the applications, sending them to the issuing authorities in Hong Kong, and then issuing the passport to the applicant. The BTCO said the changes are part of a global initiative to streamline the issuance of passports overseas. The Passport Processing Center in Hong Kong, which will produce and return passports directly to applicants in Taiwan, aims to issue all new passports within 10 working days, the office said. If British nationals need to travel urgently, however, the BTCO will still be able to issue emergency travel documents.
Kaohsiung set for rationing
Water rationing measures might be implemented in Kaohsiung from late next month because of a serious drought in the southern part of the country, Water Resources Agency (WRA) officials said yesterday. WRA Director-General Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) said the WRA had expected normal water supplies to continue into mid-June in the Kaohsiung and Pingtung areas and late June in the Tainan area. However, water reserves in southern Taiwan are diminishing faster than expected, with almost no rainfall in the Kaohsiung and Pingtung areas in recent months, Yang said. If the drought continues, water rationing measures will have to be enforced in Kaohsiung beginning late next month, he said, urging residents to conserve water.
Alishan flower visitors down
Road damage has taken a heavy toll on travel services in the Alishan area, causing the number of visitors to the mountain resort during this year’s spring flower season to drop to a 27-year low, according statistics released by the Alishan Highway Toll Station show. The statistics showed only 102,853 people visited the Alishan National Scenic Area between March 15 and Thursday, the lowest number for the period since the inauguration of the Alishan Highway in 1983. A toll station official attributed the low number mainly to the suspension of services on the Alishan alpine railway in the wake of Typhoon Morakot in August last year.
Man indicted for spying
A Taiwanese businessman was indicted by the Shihlin Prosecutors’ Office on Thursday on suspicion spying for China, according to the indictment released the same day. Ho Chih-chiang (何志強), a China-based Taiwanese businessman, was recruited by China’s national security authorities in 2007 to collect Taiwanese national security secrets in return for financial subsidies and other privileges, the indictment said. Ho returned to Taiwan and tried to recruit a Taiwan National Security Bureau officer to serve as a spy and collect information related to the government’s policies on Falun Gong, Tibetan independence, Japan and diplomacy, between December 2008 and February this year it said. Ho was indicted on charges of bribery and of violating laws on national security and the protection of national secrets.