Taiwan News Quick Take

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

Sun, Jun 08, 2008 - Page 3

■ AGRICULTURE

COA details farmers’ losses

Agricultural losses from heavy rain in central and southern Taiwan in recent days had amounted to more than NT$50 million (US$1.65 million) as of yesterday morning, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said.

Pingtung County had been the hardest hit region, suffering agricultural losses totaling NT$17.92 million, followed by Changhua at NT$11.52 million, Yunlin at NT$10.18 million, Kaohsiung at NT$8.61 million, Hsinchu at NT$1.95 million and Tainan at NT$510,000, COA figures showed. Damage to crops has amounted to NT$50.66 million, with rice, leafy vegetables, cabbage, green onions, cantaloupes and watermelons among the hardest hit. About 1,982 hectares of farmland in central and southern counties have been damaged by the heavy rain and resultant flooding, the COA said.

■SOCIETY

Chinese tourists allowed

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said yesterday that the Presidential Office would soon lift the ban on tourists from China, Hong Kong and Macau visiting the building. The Presidential Office building will re-open to the public for sightseeing on weekdays tomorrow following the transfer of power on May 20. The Presidential Office building, built during the Japanese colonial period from 1895 to 1945, was declared a “national historic site” in 1998. The building was first opened to the public two days a year in 1995 during former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) tenure, and former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) extended the opening times, opening the building to the public from 9am to 11:30am Monday to Friday.

■FESTIVALS

President’s team competes

Despite President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) last-minute withdrawal from a dragon boat competition on Friday after being criticized for failing to visit flood-hit areas, the Presidential Office still organized a rowing team of officials. The team was led by Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川), and competed against the Taipei City Government team led by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌). A total of 167 teams raced to the finish line at Taipei’s Keelung River yesterday as the 2008 Taipei International Dragon Boat Championships kicked off. The annual dragon boat race is the highlight of the dragon boat festival, which runs through today at Taipei’s Dajia Riverside Park (大佳河濱公園). The city government also invited residents to experience paddling the dragon boats and other activities at the festival, which will run till today.

■DRIVING

Quebec, Taiwan reach deal

Taiwan’s representative office has reached an agreement with the provincial government of Quebec that, starting last Sunday, the two sides would mutually recognize the other’s driver licenses. Taiwanese residents with a valid Canadian driver’s license issued by Quebec can bypass the usual process of a road and written test before obtaining a Taiwanese driver’s license. The same is true for Canadian residents with a valid Taiwanese driver’s license. Those who qualify for the new perk must submit their applications to the Directorate General of Highways under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in Taiwan, or to the Societe de l’assurance Autombile Quebec (SAAQ) in Canada. For more information, visit www.saaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/reach_us/index.php or www.thb.gov.tw/index.aspx.