Hello Kitty on gondola cars
The Maokong Gondola has begun a year of Hello Kitty rides, with the cable cars decorated with Hello Kitty images. The Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC) had signed an agreement with Japanese cartoon character producer Sanrio Co. General manager Tan Gwa-guang (譚國光) said all 145 cars are to be painted and each station decorated. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) is to visit the Taipei Zoo MRT station this morning and take a ride with a group of young children to promote the newly redecorated system.
Bureau seeks agents’ release
National Security Bureau (NSB) Director Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝) on Wednesday said the government has been trying to free two senior intelligence agents kidnapped and held by China for the past seven years. Military Intelligence Bureau colonels Chu Kung-hsun (朱恭訓) and Hsu Chang-kuo (徐章國) were kidnapped in Vietnam and taken to China in 2006. Tsai said the bureau and intelligence bureau established an ad hoc group tasked with rescuing the colonels in May 2009. “Through different channels, either in public or secretly, we have been working hard to seek their release for the past few years,” he said, but declined to give details. The Supreme Court last year upheld the ruling of the Military Supreme Court and sentenced former army general Lo Hsien-che (羅賢哲) to life imprisonment for spying for China. Lo, the highest-ranking official ever to be convicted of spying in Taiwan, reportedly started working for China as a spy in 2004. He was suspected of handing over information related to a project giving Taiwanese military access to US intelligence systems.
Women outnumber men
The nation’s female population surpassed that of men for the first time in 100 years at the end of last month, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday. As of Nov. 30, there were 11,684,133 women in Taiwan compared with 11,683,187 men, the ministry said. The disparity of 946 in favor of women caused Taiwan’s gender ratio — the number of men per 100 women — to fall below 100 to 99.99 for the first time in a century, Deputy Minister of the Interior Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) said. Hsiao said Taiwan’s gender ratio used to exceed 100, as the country had more men than women for decades. Compared with many other countries, Taiwan’s gender ratio is relatively high. In 2011, Taiwan’s gender ratio was 100.6, higher than Norway’s 100.5, South Korea’s 100.4, Mexico’s 94.8, Austria’s 95.1, Japan’s 94.8, France’s 93.9 and Italy’s 93.7, but lower than India’s 107.8, Malaysia’s 106.1 and China’s 105.2.
New base to finish in July
The military has given July next year as a concrete date for the completion of the new Ministry of National Defense headquarters, indicating the end is in sight for work that has been planned since 1997. Ministry spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said yesterday that defense operations are to be moved to the new complex, located in Taipei’s Dazhi (大直) neighborhood, next year from the current headquarters near the Presidential Office. Development of the 19.5 hectare site, originally set to be completed by 2008, has been plagued by a string of setbacks since construction work began, including the death of the original architect. As of Monday, the complex was about 80 percent complete, the ministry said.