Ma pays condolence call
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday visited the Greater Kaohsiung home of Wang Chu-ching (王珠慶), Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng’s (王金平) brother, to express his condolences over Wang Chu-ching’s death on Nov. 2. Wang Chu-ching died from lung cancer at the age of 82. Ma, who doubles as Chinese Nationalist Pary (KMT) chairman, had immediately conveyed his sympathy to Wang Jin-pyng after hearing of his brother’s death, KMT spokesman Yang Wei-chun (楊偉中) said. Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and KMT Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) accompanied Ma on his visit to Greater Kaohsiung. Ma made the trip because he will not be able to attend the funeral on Saturday because it coincides with a national food safety meeting that he must attend, Yang said.
Yuan Zai’s debut set
Panda cub Yuan Zai (圓仔) will meet the public for the first time on Jan. 6, the Taipei Zoo said yesterday, although there will still be a pane of safety glass separating her from her admirers. The cub has only been seen in photographs, news footage and a live video feed on the zoo’s Web site since she was born on July 6. Zookeepers said that Yuan Zai is growing well and has started to explore the Panda House’s outdoor environment and is enjoying life outside, indicating that she is physically and mentally fit to be introduced to visitors. To prepare her for her debut, the cub has been brought repeatedly to an outdoor play ground to get familiar with actions like taking a stroll and climbing up and down, zoo spokesman Chao Ming-chieh (趙明杰) said. Many Taiwanese have followed Yuan Zai’s activities with a passionate fever. Despite the announcement of the cub’s debut on Jan. 6, there is no word on whether the zoo will be changing the closing days for the Panda House, which has been on the first Monday each month this year.
Malaysian police mum
The brother of a Taiwanese man who was killed on Pom Pom Island off Sabah on Nov. 15 says Malaysian police have not briefed him on progress of their investigations. Hsu Li-jen (許立人) returned to Taiwan on Saturday with the ashes of his brother, Hsu Li-min (許立民), who was found dead with two bullet wounds in his chest. He said it was regrettable that Malaysian police have not talked about the case. “But I am grateful for all the assistance from our country’s representative office in Malaysia and various Malaysian government units during my stay there to deal with my brother’s cremation,” he said. Hsu Li-min’s companion Chang An-wei (張安薇), who was abducted by gunmen, remains missing. Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said on Wednesday last week that a telephone call had been received with a request for a ransom.
Keelung preps for duck
Keelung authorities are preparing for the arrival of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s Rubber Duck on Dec. 21, on what will be the final stop of the floating sculpture’s tour of the nation. The giant inflatable will be anchored near five themed areas where several events will be held during the duck’s stay, Keelung City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai (黃景泰) said. One attraction will be 100,000 pinwheels arranged to form the image of a duck when viewed from above. There will also be more than 250 vendors offering food, beverages, souvenirs and activities. To ensure the 18m tall duck will be visible from all directions, it will be placed on a rotating base, Huang said.