Taiwan News Quicktake

Fri, Mar 26, 2010 - Page 3

■ENVIRONMENT

Protesters storm plant

About 200 protesters clashed yesterday with police in Kaohsiung County as they called for a petrochemical plant to be shut down after probes showed severe pollution in the area. The scuffle in Renwu Township (仁武) happened when the demonstrators tried to force their way through the gates of the plant, run by the Formosa Plastics conglomerate, protesters and police said. The demonstrators, local villagers led by the Renwu township chief, were eventually allowed through the cordon of about 100 police officers to deliver a protest letter. No one was injured in the clash. The protesters expressed concerns that underground water and soil in nearby villages have been seriously polluted by the plant and threatened people’s health. The protest came after an Environmental Protection Administration report in December showed the plant had released pollutants into the environment. Samples from the water under the plant showed pollutants at 300,000 times acceptable safety levels. Soil pollution was hundreds of times higher than the allowed levels, the report said.

■POLITICS

Zhang donations draw fire

The Ministry of Economic Affairs came under fire yesterday after it allowed several loss-making state-run companies to sponsor an opera production by a Chinese film director. Five state enterprises, including ­Taipower and CPC Corp, Taiwan, have donated NT$3 million (US$93,700) for the staging of Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s (張藝謀) Turandot, the ministry said. “Are the state enterprises trying to pay tribute to China?” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) asked. The ministry defended letting the companies help finance the show this weekend in ­Taichung, saying it would help Taiwan’s international image. “The large-scale performance features many stars and draws a lot of international attention. It will help boost Taiwan’s international image and promote the companies,” the ministry said in a statement. Opposition lawmakers criticized the plan. “Taipower and CPC want to raise their fees, saying they are losing money, but they can still sponsor a commercial event,” Chen said.

■TRAVEL

Japan visa fees rise

Japanese visa and consular service fees in New Taiwan dollars will be increased starting April 1 in light of the fluctuating exchange rates, the Interchange Association, Taipei Office said on Wednesday. Application for a single-entry temporary resident visa will cost NT$1,100, up from NT$900 previously, while a multiple-­entry visa will cost NT$2,200, from NT$1,900. A transit visa will be NT$300, from NT$200, while renewing a re-entry permit will cost NT$1,100, from NT$900. Japan offers 90-day visa-free privileges to Taiwanese for travel or visiting.

■HOLIDAYS

Children’s Day to return

Children’s Day is expected to be declared a public holiday, Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said yesterday. Jiang said that representatives from government agencies reached the conclusion to include the April 4 holiday on the official calendar at a meeting held a day earlier. They also agreed that Women’s Day should be declared a commemorative day, but not a public holiday, Jiang said. The recommendations are pending a final decision by the Cabinet, he said. The move would increase the number of holidays — including Saturdays and Sundays — to 115 for next year, he said.