Visa services suspended
Taiwan’s representative office in Thailand has suspended visa services because the Thai government designated Thursday until Monday a holiday in Bangkok and 20 other provinces that have been hit by the country’s worst flooding in 50 years. “The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand has suspended visa services from Oct. 27-31 in line with the Thai government’s holiday program,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement issued on Thursday. Taiwan residents who intend to invite people from Thailand to visit during that period should advise their guests to apply for visas or other certification at Taiwan’s representative offices in neighboring countries or areas, the ministry said. However, Taiwanese expatriates in Thailand can still contact the Taiwan representative office in Bangkok in case of an emergency, the ministry said. High tides in the Gulf of Thailand this weekend could complicate efforts to divert water away from low-lying Bangkok, according to reports from international news agencies.
Ship, freighter collide
Two sailors were killed and another two went missing after a Taiwanese ship collided with a Liberian freighter yesterday off the Penghu archipelago, rescuers said. The Taiwanese vessel, carrying 13 crew members, was transporting goods when it was allegedly rammed by the freighter and sank early yesterday near the islands, the coast guard said. One Taiwanese and an Indonesian drowned, while the ship’s Taiwanese skipper and another sailor were missing, the coast guard said, adding that nine others aboard the ship were rescued. No one from the Liberian ship was listed as hurt or missing. The cause of the incident is being investigated, the official said.
Headway made on visa plan
The nation is making headway in obtaining visa-free treatment from the US, a Taiwanese official stationed in the US said on Thursday. Leo Lee (李澄然), the nation’s deputy representative to the US, said the rejection rate for Taiwanese nationals applying for US visas was lower than 3 percent this year, one of the conditions for joining the US visa-waiver program. Regarding an APEC forum meeting scheduled for next month in Hawaii, Lee said the meeting’s agenda would focus on green energy and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — also known as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement — a multilateral free-trade pact that aims to further liberalize the economies of the Asia-Pacific region. With regard to progress of the TPP talks, Lee said the nation continues to communicate with the US on the issue.
University relay to be held
The first Asian university half-marathon relay will be held tomorrow at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Greater Tainan with 56 students from 14 universities in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore participating. Four students — two males and two females — from each university will run in the 21.2km race, part of activities to celebrate NCKU’s 80th anniversary. The Greater Tainan Government will temporarily block Shengli Road, Siao-dong Road and University Road, which surround the university, during the relay race. Some of the 14 participating universities are National Taiwan University, National Tsing Hua University, National Chiao Tung University, Peking University, Osaka University, Chiba University and National University of Singapore.