Alleged drug ring arrested
A group has been arrested for allegedly smuggling 7kg of heroin, valued at more than NT$100 million (US$3.33 million), from Thailand to Taiwan through the mail, the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said yesterday. Members of the group allegedly purchased the drugs in Thailand, concealed them in decorative wall hangings and sent them overland to Yunnan and Guangdong provinces in China with the aim of eventually shipping them to Taiwan, a CIB official said. An investigation into the case began in May last year after the CIB received a tip-off, the bureau said. Police arrested three members of the group at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Thursday. The three suspects were interrogated yesterday and police said they confessed to having used the same method to ship heroin to Taiwan three times in the past. The ringleader of the group was still at large, police said.
Fetus screening ban mulled
Health authorities yesterday said a ban on doctors performing gender screening of fetuses in a bid to curb sex-selective abortions is being considered. The bureau of health promotion said it was reviewing the issue after up to 3,000 female babies were presumed to have been aborted last year. A government probe found that 10 out of every 11 babies delivered at a clinic in New Taipei City (新北市) last year were boys, while nine out of 10 babies born in another hospital during the same period were also male. Government officials suspected that doctors at the two medical institutions had carried out abortions at the request of parents who had viewed ultrasound scans which allowed them to predict the sex of their baby.
Taiwan to woo US tourists
The Tourism Bureau is preparing to take part in two major travel shows in the US, where it will tout Taiwan’s scenery, culinary diversity and wealth of cultural sites in a bid to attract more US tourists. The bureau will be one of the major exhibitors at the seventh annual Los Angeles Travel and Adventure Show in Long Beach on Jan. 14 and Jan. 15 and a sponsor of the 14th annual Los Angeles Times Travel Show, scheduled for Jan. 27 to Jan. 29. At the Long Beach show, the bureau will focus on Taiwan as a destination for outdoors enthusiasts, such as cyclists and surfers. At the Los Angeles Times fair, the target groups will be jet-setters and luxury travelers..
Compensation plan to begin
The government will soon launch a trial program with the aim of providing compensation for serious injury or wrongful death during childbirth, said Bureau of Medical Affairs director Shih Chung-liang (石崇良). Starting in February, patients who suffer serious injury during childbirth or families of patients who die during labor are eligible to claim compensation of up to NT$2 million (US$66,000), said Shih, adding that families are eligible to claim a maximum of NT$300,000 if their babies die during labor. In an attempt to minimize medical disputes and pricey litigation, the government has set aside a NT$300 million fund to support the program out of concern for the public’s health, he said. A total of 800 obstetric and gynecology clinics and 500 hospitals are in the program, under which the patients still have the right to file a lawsuit, but will not be able to apply for compensation from the program at the same time, Shih said.