King takes advisor spot
Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) secretary-general King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) will serve as a top advisor in the KMT’s International Affairs Center to promote party diplomacy, KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) said yesterday. King, a top aide to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), played a major role in Ma’s re-election as the director of Ma’s campaign team. After assuming his new post, King will help the party engage in exchanges with political parties in other countries, Yin said. King will serve as a non-paid advisor to the center, he said. It is expected that Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, will continue to consult King on government policies and political issues after King returns to the KMT as a non-paid advisor.
Ministry downplays reports
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday dismissed criticism that the reported new director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Christopher Marut, does not have enough seniority to hold the position, saying the issue should not be over-interpreted. Marut, director of the Office of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs under the US Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, is reportedly to succeed AIT Director William Stanton after he completes his three-year tenure in August. The Chinese-language United Daily News published a report yesterday that quoted anonymous sources in diplomatic circles as saying Marut was not a heavyweight compared with his predecessors, as well as an analysis piece that suggested Taipei should be cautious of approving the candidate. When asked to comment, Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達), director-general of the Department of North American Affairs, downplayed the reports, saying it is out of question that the US would nominate a person who was not qualified for the position, he said.
Heat wave over today
Taipei and Taitung County yesterday recorded temperatures of 35.9oC and 38.1oC respectively, the highest this year, the Central Weather Bureau said. In Taipei, the high was recorded in the early afternoon after warm southwesterly winds blew in, with an urban heat-island effect contributing to the rising mercury, the bureau said. The same weather pattern also caused foehn winds — warm, dry winds — that blew down the sheltered side of mountains into the valleys in Taitung, sending temperatures there soaring to the fourth-highest recorded for that area in May, the bureau said. Temperatures are expected to cool down nationwide today with the arrival of the first plum rains of the year, it added. The weather front is likely to bring heavy rainfall for the rest of the week in most regions, with temperatures ranging between 21oC and 28oC nationwide, it forecast.
Charcoal sales ‘harder’
Some retail and wholesale stores in New Taipei City (新北市) started a drive yesterday to make charcoal less accessible, in keeping with a city government initiative to prevent suicides. At several stores around the city, charcoal is now being stored in locked cabinets or at the cashier counter to make it less accessible to people who might try to commit suicide by burning charcoal in an enclosed space. The city’s public health officials said the buyers have to ask for the charcoal and tell the salesperson why they want to purchase it. However, the store is not required to record the personal information of charcoal buyers, city officials added.