Regional group chief visits
Central American Integration System (SICA) -secretary-general Juan Daniel Aleman Gurdian arrived in Taipei yesterday for a five-day visit. SICA is a regional organization that aims to promote sustainable development in Central America through political, economic, social, cultural and ecological integration. Since Taiwan became an extra-regional observer at SICA in 2002, there have been many bilateral cultural and financial interactions, which have included Taiwanese aid to corporations in SICA countries. Aleman Gurdian was elected SICA secretary--general in 2009 and is an ally with Taiwan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. He is scheduled to attend a banquet hosted by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hou Ping-fu (侯平福) and to visit the Mainland Affairs Council and the International Cooperation and Development Fund.
Photo service suspended
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday suspended passport photograph services provided by a security guard at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles following complaints over the quality of the photos and the security guard’s attitude. “We have informed the representative office of the suspension of the service because people think that the service was under par,” Bureau of Consular Director-General Affairs Thomas Chen (陳經銓) said. He said the office allowed the guard to take photos for passport applicants and charge US$10 per person “to save people from inconvenience” and the office also provided applicants with information about nearby photoshops. The -Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday reported that a student had complained about the security guard’s bad attitude and unprofessional technique.
Cross-strait hotline planned
Medical institutes in Taiwan and China are planning to operate a joint medical hotline as early as October to allow people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait to seek emergency medical assistance. Emergency medical experts from the two countries met at a seminar in Taipei on Monday to discuss the operation of a special phone line — “79595” — to inform each other of casualties, assist patients or purchase return air tickets in case of emergency. Wang Tsung-lun (王宗倫), president of Taiwan’s Society of Emergency and Critical Care Medicine, said the hotline would allow medical professionals from either side of the Strait to share medical records in a timely manner and allow doctors to give professional advice over the telephone. Wang said the hotline would not be toll free, and it could begin operating once it is approved by China’s communications authorities. The emergency call number is in Taiwan is 119 and 120 in China.
Park seeks crab escorts
The Kenting National Park Administration is recruiting people to help land crabs cross the road starting on Sunday. Female land crabs carry their fertilized eggs to the sea during breeding season to release to release them into the water. The park is looking for volunteers to help starting at 7pm on Sunday, not only with crossing the road, but with observing the crustaceans’ night-time behavior as well. The park administration said the area was home to 20 species of land crab, which feed on deciduous leaves and fruits in the coastal forest.