Sat, Oct 21, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Petition to jump time zone passes official threshold

By Jonathan Chin  /  Staff writer, with CNA

A netizen’s petition to change Taiwan’s time zone from the same as China’s to that of Japan and South Korea has gathered enough signatures on an official Web site to prompt an official response, the National Development Council said on Thursday.

When petitions receive more than 5,000 signatures within 60 days on the online public policy participation platform, which the council created in 2015, a government agency must be designated to issue a public response via the platform within two months.

Council Director of Information Management Chuang Ming-fen (莊明芬) said an agency would be appointed to the petition within seven days and would have to respond by Dec. 19.

“The netizen’s proposal touches upon the jurisdiction of several ministries. The council is coordinating with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the Ministry of the Interior and others,” Chuang said.

The netizen who launched the petition said that the country should leave the GMT+8 time zone, which it shares with Malaysia, China and parts of Indonesia and Australia, to the GMT+9 time zone, which covers Japan and South Korea.

The petition had garnered 7,879 signatures at press time last night.

“In the past, Taiwan belonged to GMT+9. North and South Korea, which are at similar latitudes with Taiwan, are also in the GMT+9 timezone. Switching time zone from GMT+8 to GMT+9 symbolically removes Taiwan from China and will serve as a subconscious reminder to Chinese and other foreign tourists in Taiwan that the country is not subordinated to China,” the petition said.

Moving the clock forward one hour would also save sunlight, the petition said.

A change of time zone would compel airports and airlines to change flight schedules, and systems for ticketing and sales, Civil Aeronautics Administration Air Transport Division Director Han Chen-hua (韓振華) said.

“The cost would be substantial and it would affect domestic airlines as well as foreign airlines that operate in Taiwan,” Han said.

Changing flight schedules would likely be troublesome because doing so would affect domestic and foreign airports, travel agencies, as well as hotels at the origin, destination and layover points for all of the country’s inbound and outgoing flights, an airline manager said on condition of anonymity.

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Co spokesman Lee Chien-kuo (李建國) said changing the country’s time zone would confuse travelers and disrupt the way of calculating time they are familiar with.

“This will cause difficulties, particularly with layover flights,” Lee said.

The airport handles 600 flights per day to and from 157 destinations and is used by 86 airlines, Lee said.

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