ECA long-term goal
An economic cooperation arrangement (ECA) between Taiwan and Indonesia should be seen as a mid to long-term goal because the two sides still need to remove some trade barriers, the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER) said yesterday. The institution said its feasibility study of such a pact indicated that a gradual approach would be more suitable. The feasibility study, conducted jointly with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, found that there are “potential challenges and difficulties” to be addressed before a comprehensive ECA could be possible, CIER said in an e-mailed statement.
‘Curiosity’ lecture planned
A Taiwanese scientist who works on NASA’s robot rover project called “Curiosity” will share his experience and the team’s latest findings on Sunday, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said yesterday. Yen Jen helped design Curiosity, which landed on Mars in August on a mission of least two years to seek evidence that there once might have been life on that planet. Yen will brief local astronomy buffs about the science and technology involved in the rover’s exploration of Mars, the museum said. He will also give information on two earlier NASA space rovers — Spirit and Opportunity — that landed on Mars in 2004 to look for evidence of possible habitable environments. Sunday’s lecture will begin at 2pm at the museum. Registration is required and can be made online at tamweb.tam.gov.tw/asp/activity/content.asp?actno=341.
III, AIC ink agreement
The Institute for Information Industry (III) signed an agreement with Vietnam’s Advanced International Joint Stock Company (AIC) yesterday to help build integrated solutions for smart classrooms in Vietnam. Under the agreement, the AIC plans to build 2,000 smart classrooms using products made by Taiwanese firms, such as Acer’s notebook computers, BenQ Corp’s projectors, HaBook Information Technology’s electronic whiteboards and Hebron Soft’s online English tutoring services. The institute will help the AIC to integrate these hardware products with e-learning software and knowledge management systems to help drive the popularity of e-learning in Vietnam, institute representatives said. Tsai I-chang (蔡義昌), director of the Digital Education Institute at the institute, told a news conference that the agreement was just the first step for Taiwanese suppliers to tap into Vietnam’s e-learning market.
Ketamine stays in Class 3
A drug-review committee at the Ministry of Justice yesterday rejected a proposal to upgrade ketamine to a Class 2 controlled substance because of concern of the lack of adequate support measures. It was the eighth time in two years the proposal was rejected. Representatives from the ministries of education and the interior and the Department of Health did not support the proposal to upgrade the Class 3 drug or the imposition of harsher penalties for offenders. Class 2 drug offenders are subject to imprisonment of up to thee years. Ketamine, which is commonly used by local teens, is more psychologically addictive than physically addictive, so the justice ministry should implement better support measures to address the issue of the increasing number of young drug abusers, the committee said.