No Africa trip for Ma soon
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is not scheduled to visit Africa, but he will likely visit the continent at some point during his second term in office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. “There is a need for him to make such a visit,” Department of African Affairs Director-General Hsu Mien-sheng (徐勉生) said. He said that Ma visited the nation’s allies in the South Pacific and in Central and South America after taking office in 2008, but he did not go to Africa. Ma was scheduled to tour four diplomatic allies in Africa — Gambia, Burkina Faso, Swaziland and Sao Tome and Principe — last year, but the visit was postponed due to political turbulence abroad. African leaders were looking forward to a visit by Ma, said Hsu, who accompanied Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang earlier this year to the inauguration ceremony of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. Amid media speculation that Ma is set to make such a trip next month, Hsu said lots of administrative work is required and he hinted that there would not be enough time to prepare. “He’s still got four years in his term, so he should visit at some point,” Hsu said.
Lottery profits top NT$100bn
The net profit of the Public Welfare Lottery since 2007, when Taiwan Lottery Co took it over, exceeded NT$100 billion (US$3.38 billion) as of the end of December, the company said. Taiwan Lottery said earlier this week that it recorded NT$1.94 billion in net profit in December, which is the amount of sales minus the prize money paid out and administrative fees. This brought the total net profit used to subsidize social welfare programs to NT$100.67 billion, the company said. According to government regulations, 50 percent of the net profit is given to local governments for social welfare programs and charitable purposes, 45 percent is allotted to the national pension fund and 5 percent is used as reserves for the national health insurance program.
Temperature set to rise
Temperatures around the nation were expected to start rising yesterday as a cold front from China moves on, the Central Weather Bureau said. While the mercury dipped to lows of about 10oC in some areas, the bureau said warmer and drier weather is expected. The bureau said highs could reach 19oC in northern and eastern Taiwan, 22oC in central Taiwan and 24oC in the south. However, the bureau cautioned that sporadic rainy periods are likely in the east until the weekend, while cloudy weather is expected in most other areas.
Diplomat calls for truce
Representative to the Philippines Raymond Wang (王樂生) said yesterday that Chinese and Taiwanese representatives and expatriate groups abroad should set aside their differences following warming ties across the Taiwan Strait. Wang, who was sworn in on Jan. 31, said that despite closer exchanges between Taiwan and China, groups representing the two sides in the Philippines remain hostile because of their divergent political stances. The “diplomatic truce” between the two sides should be extended to representative groups in countries outside of Taiwan and China, Wang said while visiting a Chinese-language media organization in Manila. He cited an instance in which Chinese personnel waited outside the Republic of China National Day reception and recorded the names of expatriate leaders who attended the event. Wang said it was