F-16 hit utility pole: witness
A resident of Sincheng Township (新城), Hualien County, yesterday said an F-16 hit a utility pole while coming in to land, damaging the top of the pole and several overhead cables. Kao Shang-ming (高尚明) said he heard the sound of a very loud engine overhead at about 9am and saw that some cables had fallen to the ground immediately after the jet passed, adding that the aircraft was flying lower than usual on its final approach to the airbase. The top of the pole was found later to have been bent 90? toward the runway and the overhead power lines it supported were on the ground. Chen Hua-jin (陳華進), an air force official, confirmed that a routine flight had taken place that morning and an initial investigation of the aircraft dispatched that morning found that the landing gear of one of the jets showed visible marks that could have been the result of a collision.
Customs officials questioned
Former Keelung Customs Office deputy director Chang Liang-chang (張良章) and several customs officials were questioned by investigators yesterday over their involvement in a customs bribery scandal. Taipei prosecutors led investigators in a raid of 13 locations nationwide, including four customs offices. Chang, who retired after he became a target of the investigation last month, along with five customs officials, were summoned for questioning. Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office spokesperson Wang Wen-te (王文德) said the officials could be released on bail or a request could be made for their detention. Wang said investigators suspected the officials had requested bribes from companies in exchange for allowing them to import restricted or banned items.
Insurance to end for debtors
Almost 200,000 Taiwanese who can afford to pay their national health insurance fees, but have failed to do so, will soon not be able to use their insurance card and enjoy the system’s medical services, the Bureau of National Health Insurance said. The bureau said it implemented more flexible repayment terms last year to help people in financial difficulty to pay their insurance fees. For example, the option to pay in installments — previously reserved only for those who owe NT$5,000 or more — was expanded in August last year to include people who owe as little as NT$2,000, while the minimum monthly installment amount was decreased from NT$1,000 to NT$749. A total of 14,013 people applied for the new payment plan once it was launched, a bureau official said.
California mayor to visit
A delegation led by Monterey Park City Mayor Betty Tom Chu left for Taiwan on Tuesday as part of the Californian city’s — the first in the US to have a population majority that is Asian — efforts to establish a zone to sell Taiwanese delicacies. Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) Minister Christina Liu (劉憶如) first pitched the idea of a Taiwanese delicacy zone in Los Angeles County, California, while visiting the US in May to solicit investment in Taiwan. Chu said if a Taiwanese delicacy zone were set up in the city, it would create an influx of visitors that could boost the area’s economic growth. During Chu’s four-day stay, she plans to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission, the CEPD and Monterey Park’s sister city — Yonghe District (永和) in New Taipei City (新北市).