Minister wavers over clause
Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday said he had reservations over adding a proposed “assassination prevention” clause to the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act (總統副總統選舉罷免法), saying it could lead candidates to incite violence and force the suspension of an election. The assassination prevention clause, initiated by a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators led by Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) would require the Central Election Commission (CEC) to postpone a presidential election if any presidential or vice presidential candidate or top campaign aide were shot, abducted or injured. Asked about the proposal prior to a legislative hearing, Jiang said the law already had regulations governing the suspension of an election in the event of a natural disaster or force majeure. “If one of the presidential candidates dies after the deadline for registration and before polling day, the CEC shall immediately issue a public notice to stop the election and determine another time for a new election,” Article 29 of the law reads. The issue of whether a presidential election should be suspended if any of the candidates or key campaign aides were threatened needed to be carefully discussed by lawmakers, he said. He also worried that if the measure were passed, candidates could manipulate the clause by persuading someone to fire off shots.
Groups urge gender equality
Several civic groups yesterday called for gay-friendly laws and early education on gender equality. At a press conference on the eve of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, the groups presented a chart and a list of examples that they said were an indication of the level of homophobia in the country. One of the examples cited was the recent opposition to a Ministry of Education plan to include gender equality in its curriculum for elementary and junior high school students. “Many think that Taiwan is a gay-friendly country, free from oppression and sexual bullying, with an increasingly popular annual gay parade,” Awakening Foundation -secretary-general Chien Chih-chieh (簡至潔) said. “However, Taiwan is indeed a place where homophobia exists. If the country really wants to create a gender-friendly society, the government should make efforts to legalize gay marriage and/or civil partnerships, and teach gender equality in schools as early as possible.”
Office to open in Germany
A new representative office will soon open in Frankfurt, Germany, to help Taiwanese travelers in European countries and to encourage greater exchanges between the two nations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday. The Frankfurt office will employ at least six officials from the ministry, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, MOFA spokesman James Chang (章計平) said. There are currently three other offices in the German cities of Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. “We are expecting more people to travel to Europe now that Taiwan’s Schengen visa-waiver program was launched on January 12,” Chang said. “The Frankfurt office will form a complete service network for our nationals.” Chang said MOFA had been consulting with the German government on the plan since last year and had recently received positive feedback. The office will be set up once administrative procedures are finished, but MOFA could not confirm when it will be open for business.