New organ network formed
National Taiwan University Hospital and Tri-Service General Hospital established a network for organ procurement and transplantation yesterday that will help reduce the waiting time for transplants. It is the second such network founded in recent weeks, following one set up by Taipei Veterans General Hospital, the Linkou branch of Chang Gung Medical Foundation and the Far Eastern Memorial Hospital. More than 7,000 people are awaiting organ transplants in Taiwan, while fewer than 200 people have donated their organs, the hospitals said. According to government regulations, people listed with the same procurement organization as a donor will be given priority to receive matched organs.
Officials, contractors held
Two government officials and three contractors were detained yesterday by the New Taipei City District Court for their alleged involvement in a highway construction scandal. Kao Chien-chung (郭見忠) and Yao Cheng (游成), who worked for the New Taipei City branch of the Ministry of the Interior’s Construction and Planning Agency, and three contractors working for BES Engineering Corp were detained, while six suspects were released on bail. The prosecutors said that BES won part of bids in 2008 for constructing a highway system around New Taipei City and construction was supposed to be completed in April last year, but contractors working for BES seriously delayed the construction processes. Prosecutors said the agency officials under investigations admitted they were treated to drinks in hostess bars and visits to prostitutes several times by the contractors, but denied it was in exchange for allowing contractors to delay their work.
Wetlands protection urged
The government is promoting a draft bill to protect and conserve wetlands to raise public awareness of the issue, Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said yesterday. Lee said he hoped the public would recognize the importance of wetland conservation and for wetlands to play a greater role in recreation activities. He made the remarks at a Construction and Planning Agency press conference held to mark World Wetlands Day. Feb. 2 marks the 1971 adoption of a Wetlands Convention in Ramsar, Iran. In November last year, the Cabinet approved a draft wetland bill proposed by the Ministry of the Interior and forwarded it to the legislature for approval.
Fast to focus on famine
More than 55,000 people will fast for 30 hours this weekend to raise awareness about hunger, World Vision Taiwan said. The annual “Famine Hero Rally,” now in its 24th year, will be held today in Greater Kaohsiung, World Vision said in a statement. Participants will gain an insight into the plight of people around the world who suffer as result of hunger, war, natural disasters and disease, it said. Those who join the campaign will also have an opportunity to learn how their efforts in Taiwan transform the lives of people in need globally, it said. Several celebrities are scheduled to appear at the event to encourage the participants. Rock star Wu Bai (伍佰), the 24th 30 Hour Famine ambassador, visited Lesotho early last month and will talk about his trip, World Vision said. Wang Lee-hom (王力宏), Harlem Yu (庾澄慶) and Claire Kuo (郭靜) will be among the performers at a concert which begins at 3:30pm tomorrow.