Group to observe elections
A civic group comprised of members from Asian democracies is scheduled to visit next week to observe Saturday’s legislative and presidential elections, the Taipei-based Civil Congress Watch (CCW) said yesterday. A delegation from the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), an organization that has members from countries including Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia, will arrive in Taipei shortly before the elections, said the CCW, which joined the network this year. During their visit, the four or five delegates are scheduled to visit several places, such as the Central Election Commission (CEC), candidates’ campaign headquarters and the offices of think tanks. According to the ANFREL’s last report, the political education of Taiwan’s electorate was found to be insufficient, CCW board member Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華) said. Ku said he had not seen much improvement with regard to educating the electorate over the past four years and urged the CEC to make more effort.
Sao Tome offers landing visa
Sao Tome and Principe has become the 126th country or region to grant visa-free entry or landing visas to Republic of China passport holders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced yesterday. Starting yesterday, Taiwanese nationals entering the island nation are entitled to visa-on-arrival privileges for a stay of up to 30 days, the ministry said in a statement. Individuals holding diplomatic or official passports will be granted visa-free stays of up to 90 days, it added. The agreement is expected to most benefit Taiwanese traveling in Europe who may be interested in making a side trip to Sao Tome and Principe, located just off the coast of Gabon, the statement said. Taiwan gained visa-free access to 35 nations or regions in Europe on Jan. 11 last year.
Hotpot sales take off
The recent cold spell helped boost hotpot restaurant sales by about 20 percent this week, according to members of the food industry. The King Duck restaurant chain, which operates 71 stores nationwide, has seen its business grow significantly since the New Year, according to Tien Tzu-ting (田紫婷), assistant vice president of the company. Wang Yi-shan (王益珊), the head of 12 Sabu, a hotpot restaurant chain run by Wowprime Corp, said that although its stores were normally packed with crowds, the recent cold front had helped business even more as sales grew by 3 to 5 percent during off peak hours between 9pm and 11pm this week. In addition, packages of frozen hotpot ingredients were also selling well, according to Long Fong Foods Co marketing manager Wang Yung-chiang (王永強), who said sales over the recent cold spell were up by 250 percent.