Reshuffle report denied
The Presidential Office yesterday denied a media report that the Cabinet would soon undergo a partial reshuffle. It was reported that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has not ruled out replacing members of the Cabinet before the opening of the next legislative session next month, quoting unnamed political sources as saying that Ma was not satisfied with the performance of certain economic and financial officials, and that Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) was likely to be replaced. Citing Ma’s New Year’s Day speech, a presidential office statement said all government officials have been asked to sell their policies to the public, achieve greater administrative efficiency and show courage in carrying out their duties. “All these are criteria used to evaluate agency heads’ performances,” the statement said.
Alishan attracts 2m visitors
About 2.08 million people visited the Alishan Forest Recreation Area last year, the most ever, the Chiayi Forest District Office said yesterday. Of the visitors, 70 percent were Chinese, the office said. Since Taiwan opened its doors to Chinese tourists in 2008, Alishan has become one of the most popular destinations for visitors from China. The total number of visitors to the area broke the 1 million mark for the first time in 2009, reaching 1.09 million. The number dropped to 710,000 in 2010 after disruptions caused by Typhoon Morakot, but rose to 1.4 million in 2011 after roads were repaired and service restored on the Alishan train line.
Spoonbill census this month
A global census of black-faced spoonbills for this year will be taken on Jan. 12 and Jan. 13, Taijiang National Park officials said yesterday. Tainan County, where the park is located, is one of the most important global wintering sites for the rare birds. According to previous censuses, black-faced spoonbills in Taiwan account for about 50 percent of the bird’s global population, the officials said. The annual report on the worldwide population of black-faced spoonbills was initiated by the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, the officials said, adding that the study also involves South Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. Last year 1,562 birds were recorded in Taiwan, up 728 from 2011, according to the Taipei-based Chinese Wild Bird Federation.
Chief of general staff named
Air Force General Yen Ming (嚴明) has been named as chief of general staff in the Ministry of National Defense, the ministry said in a statement on Thursday. Yen, chief of the air force, will succeed Admiral Lin Chen-yi (林鎮夷), who has been reassigned as military strategy adviser to the president, the ministry said. Yen’s post will be filled by General Liu Chen-wu (劉震武), who is the current vice chief of general staff, the ministry said. The new personnel arrangements have been approved by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and will take effect on Jan. 16, the statement said. Separately, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has named Anna Kao (高安) as its new spokesperson. Kao, director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta, Georgia, since November 2010, will succeed Steve Hsia (夏季昌), who becomes head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston, Texas. Kao’s post will be filled by Stephen Tai (戴輝源), deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of International Cooperation and Economic Affairs.
iTaiwan gets 1m clients
The number of people registered on the government’s free iTaiwan wireless network has broken the 1 million mark, with new subscriptions averaging 2,000 per day, according to the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission. The free indoor Wi-Fi service, supported by government agencies since 2011, had been used more than 12 million times by more than 1 million subscribers as of the end of last month, the commission said. The service, intended to provide free Internet access on mobile digital devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, has almost 4,000 hotspots around the country, it said. The highest number of connections was recorded at railway stations, Taichung Airport, other public transportation facilities and tourist sites.
82 charged with fraud
Eighty-two people were indicted on Thursday in Greater Taichung on charges of fraud, two months after they were repatriated from the Philippines, where they allegedly were among a gang that carried out telephone scams targeting Chinese. The prosecutors said the suspects, allegedly belonging to two groups led by ringleaders with the family name of Chang (張) and Lin (林) respectively, allegedly set up four telephone centers in Manila between March 2011 and June last year to commit telephone fraud. They allegedly called people in China, told them that their bank accounts have been broken into by hackers and urged them to transfer their funds into bank accounts controlled by the rings. Through this method, the two rings had stolen money worth hundreds of millions of New Taiwan dollars from hundreds of Chinese, the indictment said.