Minister pans Chinese army
Mainland Affairs Council Minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said in the US over the weekend that China’s military deployment against Taiwan was a barrier to cross-strait relations. Meeting with Taiwanese expatriates in San Francisco, Lai said true cross-strait reconciliation would not be achieved through military means, adding that she hoped China would eliminate this obstacle. Doing so would deepen the development of cross-strait relations, establish mutual trust and strengthen rapprochement, she said.
Taipei seeks anti-smokers
The Taipei City Government and the John Tung Foundation yesterday launched a campaign to recruit anti-smoking volunteers as part of the city’s efforts to promote a healthy image and move toward a smoke-free environment. A Bureau of Health Promotion survey found that on average 19.77 percent of Taiwanese adults smoked last year, while Taipei City recording the lowest rate, at 13.37 percent. To protect people from the harm caused by second-hand smoke, Lin Ching-li (林清麗), chief of the foundation’s tobacco control division, urged people under the age of 65 to join the campaign. The volunteers will receive professional training on how to discourage smoking at tourist attractions and other public places.
Novelist Wang collects prize
Novelist Wang Wen-hsing (王文興) accepted the top Malaysian Chinese-language literary award in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, becoming the third Taiwanese to win the prize. “I have come here on behalf of Taiwan to accept the award,” Wang said at the presentation ceremony for the Hua Zong Literature Award. Wang said he had mixed feelings about receiving the honor because he wondered if he was worthy, but said he was proud to see Taiwanese literature gain recognition from the international community. Wang, who taught at National Taiwan University from 1965 until 2005, has not shirked from controversy in his literary career. His novels Family Catastrophe (家變) and Backed Against the Sea (背海的人) both sparked debate, and the author said his third novel, which has been in the works for five years, would not be any different. Chen Ying-chen (陳映真) and Yang Mu (楊牧) were the previous Taiwanese winners of the award, which was launched in 1991 by the Sin Chew Daily, a Chinese-language newspaper in Malaysia.
Aboriginal kids taught free
The Ministry of Education announced yesterday that Aboriginal children under the age of five would receive free tuition for both public and private kindergartens. The announcement followed an amendment to a law introduced in April and implemented this month that waives some tuition fees for Aboriginal children, said Huang Chi-teng (黃子騰), head of the ministry’s Department of Elementary Education. Previously, only students in public kindergartens or associated private kindergartens had been entitled to subsidies, Huang said. However, for Aboriginal families, the law now applies to all kindergartens. In addition, children from low-income Aboriginal families or families with an annual household income of under NT$700,000 can apply for additional subsidies for economically disadvantaged children, Huang said. More than 7,000 Aboriginal children are expected to benefit from the revised regulation in the new school year, the ministry said.