THSR waiting for winner
The 200 millionth person to travel on the nation’ bullet train will be rewarded with unlimited free rides for a year, its operator said yesterday. Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSR) said it expects ridership to reach the 200 million mark by the middle of next month or later. Ridership stood at about 195 million as of Wednesday, with daily ridership hovering at just over 120,000, the company said in a statement. The lucky 200 millionth person will be chosen based on the order of ticket purchase, the statement said. The two passengers who buy tickets immediately before and after the winner will receive eight free business class tickets, it added.
Abuse cases increase
Seventy-three severe child abuse and filicide-suicide cases have been recorded in the nation so far this year, a sharp 60 percent increase over last year, according to statistics released yesterday by the Child Welfare League Foundation. The cases resulted in the death of 28 children, 40 percent of whom were under three years of age, the statistics showed. With public awareness about the need to protect children against violence increasing, 17,667 possible abuse cases were reported to child protection services last year, up from 10,094 in 2006, the foundations said. Unfortunately, 70 percent of the 73 severe abuse cases that occurred so far this year were never reported, it said. The foundation urged the public to pay more attention to the problem and report any possible cases of child abuse to authorities to help prevent tragedies.
Boost in FIT numbers sought
Taiwan is aiming to attract 1,000 independent Chinese tourists per day, the maximum number allowed, by the end of this year, Tourism Bureau Director-General David Hsieh (謝謂君) said. The average number of independent Chinese tourists at present is 750 per day, a sharp increase from the daily average of 157 last year, according to the bureau’s data. Hsieh said the new Taiwan Strait Tourism Association office in Shanghai, which opened yesterday, will focus on promoting independent travel among residents of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Fujian, Anhui and Jiangxi, when more Chinese cities are added to the independent traveler program. The free independent traveler (FIT) program began in June last year, with residents of Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen eligible to participate. Six more cities, including Tianjin and Chongqing, were added to the program in April and another four were added in August, bringing the total to 13 cities.
UK scholarship offered
Students can now start submitting their applications for the annual global scholarships offered by the UK government, the British Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei said yesterday. Those who hope to study a master’s degree in the UK can now apply for the Chevening Scholarships and the Delta/Chevening Environmental Scholarships for 2013-2014, the office said, adding that the deadline for Taiwanese applications is Jan. 2, 2013. The scheme targets students who plan to return to Taiwan for a career, said Fleur Willson, head of the office’s political section. The scholarships “aim to support UK foreign policy priorities by creating lasting positive relationships with future leaders, influencers and decision-makers around the world,” the office said.
Military prepares for snow
The Army said it has recently assigned additional personnel and two amphibious vehicles to a base in central Taiwan to prepare for rescue work on Hehuanshan (合歡山), which gets snow during winter. Two CM-21 Amphibious Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicles and nine servicemen from the Army’s 586 Armored Brigade arrived on Monday at the Wuling (武嶺) base, which is located at an altitude of 3,110m on Hehuanshan, an official with the brigade said. “They will remain there until Feb. 28, 2013, when the snow season ends,” the official said. The rescue team at the Wuling base is prepared mainly to tow large vehicles trapped by heavy snow on the mountain and move them to safety at nearby parking lots. The Wuling facility is the military’s only alpine training base. The base trains military personnel to carry out mountain rescue operations in freezing weather conditions.
Prison bakery success
Tainan Prison said a bakery workshop run by inmates has proven successful, as its handmade egg rolls have been selling like hot cakes. Shen Hung-da (沈宏達), a section chief at the prison, said sales of cookies and biscuits made by prisoners have increased by 90 percent over the years, with turnover reaching about NT$15 million (US$517,580) last year. The prison bakery, which was established in 2007, began with 10 prisoners, with its average daily sales amounting to just 50 bags in the first year. The staff now numbers 28 due to the popularity of the bakery’s goods, he said. The prison plans to build a new facility next year to help increase the bakery’s production capacity by more than 30 percent, he said, adding that the prison offers many job training programs to inmates to help the prisoners enter the labor market when they are released.