Expo visitors reach 2 million
The number of visitors to the Taipei International Flora Expo broke the 2 million mark yesterday, slightly earlier than the organizers had projected. The 2 millionth visitor was recorded at 10:11am, less than three weeks after the 1 millionth visitor was recorded on Nov. 27, Taipei International Flora Expo Operational Headquarters said. The visitor total was about 10 percent ahead of the organizers’ original expectations. The organizers could not immediately identify the 2 millionth visitor because the exposition has many entrances and ticket booths. So the expo organizers gave vouchers to the 1,999,500th visitor and the 999 visitors who followed, from which the 2 millionth visitor was chosen in a draw later yesterday. The winner received an EVA Airways ticket to an Asian destination.
Singapore pact talks to start
Taiwan and Singapore will start talks on the possible signing of an economic partnership agreement early next year, a joint statement released by the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei and the Taipei Representative Office in Singapore said yesterday. Taiwan and Singapore, which are both members of the WTO, have completed their own feasibility studies and concluded that such an agreement “would offer significant mutual benefits,” the statement said. Should the formal negotiations result in a deal, the trade pact would be titled: “Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership,” according to the statement.
Smuggling ring busted
The National Immigration Agency (NIA) announced on Tuesday that it has smashed a cross-border human smuggling ring, the largest in Asia, after more than a year of cooperation with its counterparts in Hong Kong, Thailand, the UK and the US. The NIA said it detained seven suspects and summoned seven others for questioning, all of whom have been handed over to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office. Ten members of the ring are still at large. The NIA said the ring made more than NT$100 million (US$3.3 million) in profits from more than 30 cases, helping Chinese to illegally enter the US, Canada, the UK or the Netherlands. The ring made of profit of US$50,000 to US$70,000 for every stowaway they smuggled into these countries. Through ads on the Internet or in newspapers, the criminal ring recruited members to serve as middlemen who were responsible for traveling to Hong Kong or Bangkok, where they handed forged Republic of China passports and boarding passes to the Chinese.
SAC vows to protect Yang
Sports Affairs Council (SAC) Minister Tai Hsia-ling (戴遐齡) yesterday promised to protect the rights of taekwondo athlete Yang Shu-chun (楊淑君) as Yang prepares to attend a disciplinary meeting held by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). Tai said the SAC has sent personnel to travel to South Korea with Yang to offer her assistance. Yang is scheduled to fly to Seoul tomorrow to attend a disciplinary hearing regarding her controversial dismissal from the women’s under-49kg division at the Asian Games on Nov. 17. The disqualification sparked a public outcry at the Asian Taekwondo Union, which accused Yang of cheating. Taiwan filed an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) related to the disqualification. Tai said yesterday that CAS has decided to accept the case.