New AIT director named
US diplomat Christopher Marut will take over as director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which represents US interests in Taiwan, diplomatic sources said on Thursday. Marut will succeed William Stanton, who completes his three-year tenure in August, the sources said, adding that the arrangement has been approved by the government of Taiwan and will be officially announced by the US Department of State next week. Marut is currently director of the Office of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs under the department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. He was director of the bureau’s Office of Regional and Security Policy before being assigned in 2007 to Hong Kong, where he served as deputy consul-general until 2009 and as acting consul-general from August 2009 to March 2010.
New flights to Seoul to start
Direct flights between Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) and Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport will be launched on Monday. Two Seoul-based discount carriers, T’way Airlines and Eastar Jet, and Taiwan’s two major airlines, China Airlines and Eva Airways, will offer 14 round-trip flights a week, seven for the carriers of each country, said Lu Ze-yen (呂枝彥), general manager of Sepung International Service, a Seoul-based travel agency. China Airlines will launch the first flight from Taipei to Gimpo International, while the first Seoul-Taipei flight will be offered by T’way Airlines, Lu said. The new routes are expected to cut travel time because of the proximity of the airports to the cities they serve. Gimpo International is about 35km closer to downtown Seoul than Incheon International Airport, while Taipei airport is within city limits.
Taipower sorry for project
State-owned Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) president Lee Han-shen (李漢申) apologized in person to villagers in Hualien County yesterday for conducting a geological exploration project not far from their homes without notifying them or local authorities. Amid demonstrations by local residents who voiced anger over the project, Lee watched as Taipower workers sealed wells on the site to officially terminate the project. Lee also signed an agreement to declare his company’s respect for the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民族基本法) and the rights of Aborigines who live in the region. The residents then erected a commemorative stele on the capped wells. Lawmakers earlier this month revealed that Taipower was undertaking the project near Sioulin Township (秀林), and some people alleged it was being done to pave the way for a nuclear waste storage facility.