Temperatures to plunge
Temperatures are expected to drop significantly nationwide from Tuesday due to the strongest seasonal winds since the beginning of autumn, the Central Weather Bureau said yesterday. Daily lows may hover between 16°C and 19°C across Taiwan until Friday, while maximum temperatures in northern Taiwan are expected to stay below 23°C, the bureau said. The seasonal winds are also likely to bring showers to most areas of the nation, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday, the bureau said.
AIT to hold Q&A session
The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said it will answer questions about the new US Visa-Waiver Program on its Facebook page today between 6:30pm and 7pm. This will be the first time AIT has organized such an activity via Facebook, with questions fielded in either Chinese or English. The AIT also said that due to time constraints, people can also e-mail their questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. With Taiwan’s admission to the program on Thursday, Taiwanese will be freed from the cumbersome process of obtaining a US visa at a cost of NT$4,800 (US$164) per application. The AIT has been carrying out an information campaign on the new system that has received broad recognition, with staff visiting places such as night markets and department stores to inform the public of the new requirements and the online application process.
Ma promises to relax rules
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday touted the contributions of foreign spouses to Taiwan and promised to shorten the time required for Chinese spouses to obtain Republic of China (ROC) citizenship to four years. While attending an award ceremony for new immigrant families, Ma said the government has relaxed regulations on work permits and ROC citizenship for immigrants (in Taiwan) and that shortening the time for Chinese spouses to obtain ROC citizenship will grant them more rights. “Taking good care of new immigrants is a major policy of my administration because they have blended in with the society and made great contributions to the country,” he said. An amendment passed in 2009 relaxed restrictions on Chinese spouses’ right to work and shortened the time needed to get an identity card from eight to six years, but that is still two years longer than the waiting period for other foreign spouses.
New ships commissioned
Two refitted coastal minehunters purchased from the US were commissioned into the navy at the Zuoying (左營) naval base in Greater Kaohsiung on Friday. The two vessels are to improve the navy’s mine hunting and mine sweeping capabilities to locate and destroy naval mines used in sea blockades, in the event of conflict, the military said. The two refurbished Osprey-class mine hunting ships — formerly the USS Oriole and the USS Falcon — were both decommissioned from US naval service in 2006. In early 2010, the US government approved the sale of the two ships to Taiwan. The package included refurbishment, upgrading and other related support and services, at an estimated cost of US$105 million. The vessels were shipped to Kaohsiung in August after nearly three years of preparations, that included reactivating the ships and training personnel to crew them.