Taiwan News Quick Take

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Mon, Feb 23, 2009 - Page 3

■ POLITICS

Wu heads to Southeast Asia

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) will depart today on a trip to the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore to promote party diplomacy and meet expatriates, KMT spokesman Lee Chien-jung (李建榮) said yesterday. Building on the nation’s close economic and trade relations with the three Southeast Asian countries, Wu will also meet political figures to discuss bilateral ties and regional cooperation, Lee said. Wu is scheduled to meet leaders of the People’s Action Party of Singapore and the Malaysian Chinese Association, Lee said. Meanwhile, Wu will brief expats on government policies implemented since the KMT returned to power last May and will thank them on behalf of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for supporting the new administration, Lee said. Wu is scheduled to return on March 5.

■ TRAVEL

Ireland mulls visa-free entry

Ireland is considering following the UK’s lead in offering visa-free travel to Taiwanese, an Irish government source said on Saturday. Because of the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK, it is important that the Irish and British visa lists are similar, an official with the Department of Justice said. This being the case, “Ireland must take serious account of any alterations in the UK visa regime,” the official said. “Full and immediate consideration will be given to the issue of Taiwan.” It is hoped this process will be completed before the UK arrangements take effect, the official said. The UK announced on Feb. 9 that it would waive visa requirements for Taiwanese visiting for less than six months, effective March 3. The Irish government said the number of applications by Taiwanese passport holders for entry to Ireland was around 1,200 per year. Taiwan allows holders of Irish passports 30-day visa-free entry.

■ SOCIETY

Guandu seeks volunteers

Guandu Park is seeking recruits for its volunteer program. The park, which includes a wetland and is home to an array of protected plants and animals, is accepting applications for its volunteer training program from now through April 15. In addition to volunteers, the park is also looking for short-term translators for the Guandu International Outdoor Sculpture Festival in June. The translators will be invited to participate in a two-day workshop, where they will learn about the wetlands, biodiversity and land conservation, park officials said. Details are available at www.gd-park.org.tw.

■ PUBLIC WORKS

MRT construction continues

Construction of three projects on the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport MRT will start today in Taipei County. The Bureau of High Speed Rail is scheduled to hold a ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of several stations and other facilities in Taipei County. The projects include three elevated stations in Sanchong (三重), Wugu (五股) and Sinjhuang (新莊), two elevated stations in Taishan (泰山) and a bridge and two tunnels, a bureau official said yesterday. There will be 22 stations along the line, with seven underground and 15 elevated. Extended airport services will be provided at Taipei Main Station, Wugu Industrial Park Station and the Taiwan High Speed Rail’s Taoyuan Station to allow airline passengers to check-in at those points. The new MRT line will be 51.03km long.