Amendments to the Criminal Code on drunk driving offenses passed initial review at a meeting of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee yesterday, with a proposal that would increase maximum prison terms for first-time offenders to three years. Most of the lawmakers in the review said they agreed that tougher sentencing for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is required to deter such behavior. The discussion focused on amending Article 185-3 of the Criminal Code, with the Ministry of Justice providing recommendations in a report. The article sets out the punishments for people convicted of driving a motor vehicle if their “exhalation contains alcohol of 0.25 milligrams per liter or more, or the person’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.05 percent or more,” or there are other circumstances that show they have “consumed alcohol or other similar substances which prevent the person from driving safely,” or “the person uses drugs, narcotics or other similar substances that prevent the person from driving safely.” The article stipulates stricter punishments if the offense results in death or serious physical injury, and has a five-year clause defining what constitutes a repeat offender. The ministry recommended that first-time DUI offenders receive a maximum three-year sentence, up from two years, in addition to a fine of up to NT$300,000 (US$10,830), up from NT$200,000. For a first-time offender involved in a fatal crash, the ministry recommended increasing the maximum fine to NT$2 million on top of the article’s prison sentence of three to 10 years, and NT$1 million in addition to the one to seven-year sentence if the offense results in serious physical injury. The ministry also said that the time defining a repeat DUI offender should be extended to 10 years, with the cap on fines in such cases increasing to NT$3 million for a fatal crash and NT$2 million
KAOHSIUNG BLAZE: Prosecutors sought ‘the heaviest penalty,’ saying that Huang Ke-ke was sending angry messages while the building burned and people died
A 52-year-old woman suspected of starting a fire at a building in Kaohsiung that killed 46 people and injured 41 was charged with homicide yesterday. Prosecutors asked the court to impose the “heaviest penalty,” with the Criminal Code stipulating the death penalty, a life sentence, or no less than 10 years in prison. The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office said that the suspect, Huang Ke-ke (黃格格), at 2am on Oct. 14 last year lit mosquito-repellent incense and placed the burning product on a sofa in a small room on the ground floor of the Cheng Chung Cheng (城中城) building in Yancheng District (鹽埕), starting a fire that spread through the building. The room in which the fire started was owned by someone else and had no water or electrical outlets, prosecutors said. Huang often drank with her 53-year-old boyfriend, surnamed Kuo (郭), and others in the room, prosecutors said. On the night of Oct. 13, Huang and Kuo had been drinking in the room, but three hours before the fire started, Kuo had left the building, they said. Prosecutors released Kuo after questioning, saying that he played no role in starting the fire, which was confined to the room for almost 30 minutes, producing a lot of smoke and igniting its wooden interior, they said. Many of the units on the first and second floors were not occupied, and 59 scooters and motorcycles parked on the first floor helped the fire to spread, prosecutors said. The conditions led to thick smoke rising to the upper levels of the 40-year-old, 13-story building, killing people on the seventh floor and above, the office told the court. The 46 people who died showed signs of nitric oxide poisoning, which inhibits breathing, and shock, the office said. In addition to the homicide charges, the indictment document said that Huang committed an offense against public safety. Prosecutors
Seventeen out of 20 sunglasses examined by the Consumer Protection Committee in a random inspection failed to meet standards, the committee told a news conference in Taipei yesterday. The government’s Chinese National Standards (CNS) 15067 stipulate that sunglasses are ranked 0 to 4, with a lower rank meaning more light can pass through the lenses, the committee said. Committee officer Wang Te-ming (王德明) said that level 0 lenses should have 80 percent or more light filtration, should be almost completely transparent and should be usable at night or in poor light. Level 4 lenses allow less than 10 percent of light to pass, making them unsuitable for use when driving, Wang said. Most people are not aware of the levels or what they mean, and often use lenses with a filtration level of 8 to 75 percent, which are not appropriate for driving, he said. Some people wear glasses with polarized lenses when driving at night to mitigate the glare of headlights from oncoming vehicles, but the committee’s inspection showed that two such products failed to meet standards, he said. Many people think that the fine print describing a product is not important and believe that a high-quality product means it is appropriate, Wang said. However, labeling and warnings on a product are there to help people avoid risks, he said. People should purchase sunglasses from legitimate sources and make sure that they have clear labeling, he said. People should understand what level of filtration they need, he said. If a consumer buys sunglasses and discover that they are poor quality, the Civic Code stipulates that they should be refunded by the store where they made the purchase, he said.
The owner of a New Taipei City-based mask factory was yesterday handed a prison sentence of five months, commutable to a fine, for his involvement in purchasing Chinese-made masks and altering them to gain access to Taiwan’s rationing program as the COVID-19 pandemic was shutting down the world in 2020. The Shilin District Court ruled that Lin Ming-chin (林明進) of Carry Hi-tech contravened Article 255 of the Criminal Code by counterfeiting commodity labels, finding him guilty of using his company to buy medical-grade masks produced in China and adding “Made in Taiwan” labels to them. Lin’s activity was discovered on March 29, 2020, when customs officers at the Port of Keelung flagged a container containing masks. The ship’s manifest said that 69,570 masks from China were in the container and customs officers reported the shipment upon seeing that the masks had “Made in Taiwan” on them. The court found Lin guilty of defrauding the public, saying that his company was one of many recruited to manufacture medical-grade masks at the peak of the mask-rationing program, which ended late last year. By importing a lot of masks from China instead of making his own from government-provided resources, Lin upset market equity and jeopardized the nation’s well-being amid the pandemic, the court said. The court said that there were mitigating circumstances in the case. Lin pleaded guilty and displayed acceptable decorum during the court proceedings, while he had to pay his employees while his operations were shut down following the customs investigation, it said. The ruling, which can be appealed, came as a similar but separate case involving Lin and Chinese-made masks is being tried. In the ongoing trial, Lin is charged with fraud for allegedly disguising a batch of non-medical grade Chinese masks to make them look like they were made by his company.
A Kaohsiung man has been sentenced to 35 days of penal servitude after his unleashed pit bull terrier injured a woman. On Aug. 3 last year, the man, surnamed Chen (陳), was walking his two dogs, the pit bull and a Thai ridgeback, without leashes, when the pit bull attacked a shiba inu belonging to a woman surnamed Lee (李). Lee attempted to separate her dog from the pit bull, but fell and sustained injuries to her head, right arm and legs, a hospital report showed. She was also diagnosed with dizziness, acute stress and anxiety, the report showed. Lee reported Chen, and although he told authorities that he had not leashed his animals, no settlement was reached. A Ciaotou District Court judge, who heard the case on Jan. 5, said that Chen should have leashed his dogs, and that his negligence led to Lee and her dog being attacked, causing physical and emotional harm. Chen’s 35-day sentence can be commuted to a fine. The Animal Protection Act (動物保護法) stipulates that “aggressive” breeds “in a public place or venue with public access must have adult human company who shall take precaution to protect the public,” which is taken to mean leashing or even muzzling of such animals. The Council of Agriculture categorizes six breeds of dogs as “aggressive”: American pit bull terriers, pit bull terrier crossbreeds, Tosa, or Japanese mastiffs, Neapolitan mastiffs, Brazilian mastiffs and dogo Argentinos. Fines for contravening the rules can be from NT$30,000 to NT$150,000. From March 1, people would be prohibited from keeping unregistered pit bull terriers as pets and imports of the breed would be banned. Pit bull terrier owners must register their animals before Feb. 28 or face a fine of up to NT$250,000 and have their dogs seized and taken to a public shelter, the council said.
CHERRY-PICKED HISTORY: A site that credits Chiang Ching-kuo with liberal reforms and the end of martial law ignores his involvement in the White Terror, the commission said
The Taipei City Government is glorifying authoritarianism with today’s opening of a heritage site to honor former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), the Transitional Justice Commission said yesterday. The Ching-kuo Chi-hai Cultural Park (經國七海文化園區) in Taipei’s Dazhi (大直) area, jointly built and operated by the city government and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, features Chiang’s diaries and paintings, among other items. The site’s installations do not address Chiang’s role in the White Terror era, the commission said, adding that the city should rename or redesign the park. Citing its own report from September last year, the commission said that during the White Terror era Chiang was head of records at the Presidential Office’s special affairs department and director of political warfare at the Ministry of National Defense, posts that were at the top of the nation’s security and intelligence apparatus. Chiang was fully cognizant of the government’s White Terror operations and a participant in its perpetration before he became president, it said. Chiang’s actions harmed numerous Taiwanese, and the power he wielded was never granted through a democratic process, it said. After becoming president, he orchestrated a policy of branding dissidents as communist spies, while avoiding the kind of direct interference in military tribunals like his father, Chiang Kai-shek, it said. The persecution of dissidents Yu Teng-fa (余登發), Tsai Yu-chuan (蔡有全) and Hsu Tsao-te (許曹德), and the killing of writer Chiang Nan (江南) in the US occurred under Chiang Ching-kuo’s administration, it said. Chiang Ching-kuo supervised the persecution of dissidents during the Kaohsiung Incident of 1979, writing in his diary that he intended to “make a clean sweep [of his enemies] and then tear them out by the root,” the commission said. The government is also suspected to be responsible for the unsolved murders of veteran democracy advocate Lin I-hsiung’s (林義雄) mother and two daughters, and the
TOP SHELF: The high-tech ejection seats, to be installed in 43 F-5s by the end of the year, have advanced safety features such as a personal survival pack, the air force said
The air force yesterday showcased its new F-5 ejection seats in a Seventh Flight Training Wing jet at a Taitung County air force base during a visit by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). Taiwan ordered 70 Martin-Baker Mk 16 ejection seats from the US for the air force’s F-5 fleet in March last year after military experts recommended replacing the previous models, which they said used an outdated design. The recommendation was made during an investigation into the cause of a mid-air collision of two F-5E jets in March last year that left two pilots dead. The first batch of the ejection seats was received late last year, and the F-5 on display yesterday was one of the first aircraft to be refitted with one. The air force said it plans to upgrade its fleet of 16 F-5Es — a single seat version of the F-5 jet — and 27 F-5Fs — a twin-seat model — with the new seats by the end of the year. The Mk 16 is a high-tech ejection seat that comes with advanced safety features such as a personal survival pack and is compatible with many canopy jettison systems, the air force said. It uses a passive leg restraint system that can automatically retract the pilot’s lower limbs and provide protection during ejection, and enables pilots to eject safely even at zero altitude and zero velocity, the air force said. When the seat makes contact with water, it automatically detaches the harness from the seat’s parachute to prevent the pilot from drowning, the air force added. Although the F-5 jet with the new Mk 16 ejection seat was highlighted, the president also inspected a recently delivered indigenous advanced jet trainer from local aircraft maker Aerospace Industrial Development and another F-5 jet. Tsai was there as part of a tour of military bases ahead of the
A retired air force general yesterday called for the creation of an air force reserve to alleviate the burden on pilots and enhance the military’s pilot training program. Retired air force lieutenant general Chang Yan-ting (張延廷) — who was the air force deputy commanding general — made the comment at a news conference hosted by the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) caucus in Taipei. Pointing to the crash of an F-16V jet on Tuesday last week, which resulted in the death of air force Captain Chen Yi (陳奕), Chang said that the level of risk to pilots has affected recruitment and enlistment numbers are not high enough to properly fill units. Fighter pilots are also exhausted from pulling double duty as responders to China’s increased air incursions and as trainers of new pilots, he said. The air force has lowered recruitment standards to vie with other branches for potential recruits, which further affects safety, he said. An air force reserve would alleviate the burden on active service pilots and bolster the pilot training program, he said, adding that retired pilots could be incentivized to join. Recently retired pilots who are physically fit and proficient could be instructors in the training program to give pilots more time for missions, he said. Older retirees who are also fit and proficient could be recalled every two months to do flight simulator training and be tested on their technical knowledge, he said. TPP Legislator Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿) said that an air force modernization plan would add 66 Lockheed Martin F-16Vs and 66 Aerospace Industrial Development T-5s, while 43 Northrop F-5s are to be phased out. The air force also needs to increase the cockpit-to-pilot ratio from 1:1.33 to the NATO standard of 1:1.5, as 120 F-16 pilots have entered the service against 108 departing since 2011, he said. This means that 110 pilots must be
Vice President William Lai’s (賴清德) upcoming transit through the US is being facilitated with consideration for the “safety, comfort, convenience and dignity” of his delegation, a US Department of State spokesperson said on Thursday. “The United States facilitates, from time to time, Taiwan authorities to transit the United States,” the official said in an e-mail. “Such transits are undertaken with consideration for the safety, comfort, convenience and dignity of the passenger and are in keeping with our one China policy.” Lai is to transit through California and hold talks with US officials while en route to and from a visit to Honduras next week, the Presidential Office said. Lai is to attend the inauguration of Honduran president-elect Xiomara Castro. He is to depart from Taiwan on Tuesday and arrive the next day in Los Angeles, before traveling to the Central American nation on Thursday. After wrapping up his visit in Honduras on Saturday next week, Lai would stop over in San Francisco before returning to Taiwan the next day. American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James Moriarty is to greet Lai in California, the US official said. The Taiwan and US governments agreed that the vice president did not need to obtain an additional COVID-19 vaccine to enter the country, the Presidential Office said. The US requires visitors to be fully vaccinated against the disease with an approved vaccine. Lai has received three shots of the Taiwan-made Medigen vaccine, which is not yet on the US list of accepted COVID-19 vaccines. Lai is expected to interact with foreign dignitaries at the inauguration, including US Vice President Kamala Harris, who is to lead her country’s delegation at the event, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. US representatives Tom Tiffany and Scott Perry on Thursday wrote to Harris urging her to meet Lai “in an official and public capacity” during her visit to
Guatemala yesterday opened a commercial counselor office in Taipei in the hope of attracting Taiwanese investment to the Central American country and enhancing bilateral trade. Speaking virtually at a ceremony to mark the inauguration of the Commercial Counselor Office of Guatemala in Taipei, Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs Pedro Brolo said that it was a great honor to expand the scope of the ministry’s mission as part of Guatemala’s goal of bolstering the country’s economic and commercial links. Describing Taiwan as a “strategic partner,” Brolo stressed Guatemala’s interest in enhancing its relations with Taiwan in areas such as trade and investment. The office, which is Guatemala’s 22nd such office, would be tasked with bringing more foreign direct investment to the country and increasing bilateral trade between the nations, said Hugo Sanic, who is to head the office. It would engage with Taiwanese and Guatemalan companies that want to do business in one another’s country and provide them with counseling services and other assistance, he added. Speaking virtually at the ceremony, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said that the office’s establishment is “a clear sign of the unwavering diplomatic partnership and close economic ties between Taiwan and Guatemala.” “This has been a new milestone in our bilateral exchanges,” Wu said. “As a staunch partner to Guatemala, Taiwan is committed to continuously making contributions to Guatemala’s national development and public welfare.” Wu encouraged Taiwanese firms to consider Guatemala as a destination for developing potential business opportunities overseas and for investments, which he said would drive bilateral industrial growth. The Bureau of Foreign Trade said that bilateral trade between Taiwan and Guatemala has increased from US$167.89 million to US$294.5 million since the promulgation of a free-trade agreement between the countries in 2006. Last year, Guatemala exported US$91.64 million of goods to Taiwan, up 15.72 percent year-on-year, bureau data showed, making
The Council of Agriculture on Tuesday defended asking public enterprises to purchase pineapple custard apples, after employees complained they were “being forced” to buy the fruit to mitigate the effects of a Chinese ban. Agriculture and Food Agency Director-General Hu Jong-i (胡忠一) made the comment at an event presenting products made from the fruit for the Lunar New Year, after China in September last year banned the fruit claiming imports contained invasive insects. Also called atemoya, the fruit are a hybrid between cherimoya and sugar apples, notable for their pale green and bumpy skin. The nation exports about 13,000 tonnes of pineapple custard apples each year, primarily to China. To ease the effects of the Chinese ban, the council last year proposed a three-pronged approach involving domestic sales, foreign promotion and the development of processed atemoya goods. On Jan. 6, it sent a letter to public and private enterprises encouraging them to help farmers and express their patriotic spirit by buying the fruit. The council does not have the ability or the authority to force businesses to purchase anything, Hu said on Tuesday, adding that the letter was only meant to encourage businesses to support farmers. More than 5,000 tonnes of the fruit have been ordered by domestic buyers, while more than 3,000 tonnes have been ordered by manufacturers, he said. As pineapple custard apples typically fetch high prices when sold fresh and take three to five years to mature, little consideration had previously been given to processing the fruit, the council said. Researchers and businesses spent two months working to create some of the first products made with pineapple custard apples, including soda and cake, which the council presented at a news conference on Tuesday. Atemoya are rich in polyphenols, which give it a bitter taste when processed, said Hsieh Chang-wei (謝昌衛), a professor in the Department of Food
Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan, left, presents an award to a police officer yesterday at the Jhongli District Precinct, congratulating him for his involvement in the seizure of 686 cannabis plants and 15kg of marijuana in an operation on Thursday night conducted with the Keelung Harbor Police Department and the Shulin District Police Precinct.
CASE SURGE: Palau’s domestic COVID-19 situation seems under control, but it remains unclear how the country handles imported cases, Chen Shih-chung said
Taiwanese travelers returning from Palau would have to quarantine in government facilities for five days upon arrival before observing self-health management for another 16 days, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, after the Pacific country reported a surge in imported COVID-19 cases. Taiwan and Palau early last year signed an agreement to enable quarantine-free travel, after Taiwan had effectively curbed its first domestic outbreak of the virus and Palau had not yet posted any cases. However, the licensed tours required Taiwanese to present a negative COVID-19 test report before boarding their flight, and contact with locals was limited. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, confirmed that Palau had as of yesterday reported 189 COVID-19 cases, including 157 in the past seven days. “We were told that 139 of these cases were identified as soon as they arrived at the airport, and Palau only had nine local cases. It seemed relatively stable,” Chen said. “But the problem is that we do not know what they did to manage 139 cases after they were identified at the airport.” The latest flight from Palau arrived in Taiwan on Jan. 5, when the ally had not yet reported any COVID-19 cases, Chen said, adding that no Palauan arrivals to Taiwan have been found to have the disease. The CECC yesterday evening tightened travel restrictions for tourists returning from Palau. Currently, returnees must undergo a stricter version of self-health management for five days and another nine days of observing regular self-health management. They must undergo COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on the fifth, 12th, 13th and 14th days after arrival. Starting tomorrow, tourists must quarantine for five days in a government facility and practice a stricter version of self-health management for another nine days, as well as regular self-health management for another seven. PCR
A majority of Japanese feel friendly toward Taiwan, with almost half of respondents in a poll saying that they want to visit the country after COVID-19 travel curbs are eased, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan said yesterday. The office said that 75.9 percent of respondents said they feel friendly toward Taiwan, citing as reasons the friendliness and politeness of Taiwanese, the long history of ties between the two nations, and the strength of bilateral trade. More than one-quarter of respondents — 26.4 percent — said they had traveled to Taiwan, while 47.8 percent said they would like to once international travel resumes, the office said. Regarding Taiwan-Japan relations, 71.4 percent of respondents said they are happy with the relationship, while 59.6 percent said they expect the ties to get a boost in the future, the office said. The poll showed that 64.8 percent of respondents described Taiwan as “trustworthy,” citing as reasons Taiwan’s attitude toward Japan, shared democratic values and its peacefulness, it said. Asked to choose the most friendly country in Asia, 46.6 percent of respondents chose Taiwan, 15.8 percent chose South Korea, 12.5 percent chose Singapore and 3 percent chose China, it said. The poll showed that 65.1 percent of respondents agreed with Taipei’s assessment that trade between the two nations would get a boost if Taiwan joins the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, it said. Asked to choose which Taiwan-related issue is the most important to Japan, 40.7 percent said the country is most affected by the situation across the Taiwan Strait, while 8.2 percent cited fishery disputes and 6.8 cited economic competition, the office said. Another 24.4 percent said there are no problems between Taiwan and Japan, it said. Asked to select Taiwanese fruits they want to buy, 57.6 percent of respondents chose bananas, 57 percent chose pineapples and
A giant lantern shaped like a UFO that weighs more than 2 tonnes would be the main attraction at the Taipei Lantern Festival, which is to start in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林) on Feb. 11, the Taipei City Government said yesterday. The UFO, which measures 7m in diameter and stands at 5m tall, lights up with spotlights and an array of LEDs, including panels that display the festival’s mascot, “Auspicious Tiger,” in the cockpit, Taipei Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤) told a news conference. The tiger is next lunar year’s zodiac animal, traditionally symbolizing vigor and vitality. Tsai said that the connection between the zodiac animal and the spacecraft-shaped lantern is that the UFO is being flown by the “Auspicious Tiger” mascot to Shilin. “This is to symbolize that it is bringing a whole year of happiness to Shilin, making the district brilliant,” Tsai said. Festival creative director Akibo (李明道) said that the idea of the 2.5-tonne UFO was developed from an animation concept of a cosmic UFO that became lost in space and landed in Shilin. Taipei then invited the travelers on the UFO to display the spacecraft as the festival’s main lantern, Akibo said. “We hope it will spark the imagination of visitors and also give them an opportunity to broaden their horizons to give them unlimited possibilities,” Akibo said. During the festival, the UFO would be the centerpiece of a three-minute show every 30 minutes in which it would be lifted 6m into the air to make it look like as if it is flying, Akibo said. The UFO is one of Akibo’s many robotic-designed art installations across Taipei, including a Bluetooth speaker robot at Xinzhongshan Linear Park (心中山線形公園) and a treasure-finding airship at Taipei Children’s Amusement Park, Akibo said. “When I was young, I didn’t have toys to play with, so when I grew up, I
A community representative in Taichung yesterday scrutinized former Non-Partisan Solidarity Union legislator Yen Ching-piao’s (顏清標) role as chairman of Dajia Jenn Lann Temple (大甲鎮瀾宮) in the city’s Dajia District (大甲), which he has retained for more than two decades, despite having his registered residence in Shalu District (沙鹿). This would disqualify him from the role, as the temple’s charter requires the chairperson to reside in Taichung’s northern districts of Dajia, Houli (后里), Daan (大安) or Waipu (外埔), said Yi Chin-jung (易錦隆), a local community representative on the temple’s management committee. The charter stipulates that the committee that controls the temple’s finances be composed of 15 locals, among whom the chairperson would be elected, Yi said. When the temple was founded in 1730, its head had to come from one of the surrounding 53 villages or hamlets, Yi said, adding that the rule has since been updated to require residency in one of the four districts. “Yen, with his residency in Shalu, has no qualification to be the temple’s community representative, serve on its board or be its chairman,” Yi said, adding that Yen illicit tenure started in 1999. Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said he has sent an official letter to the Taichung City Government, asking it to clarify the matter and requesting a copy of the temple’s charter. Taichung Civil Affairs Bureau Director Wu Shih-wei (吳世瑋) said that the charter does not clearly state a residency requirement, turning down Hsu’s request for a copy. Business Weekly magazine has reported that Yen’s long-standing role has been widely scrutinized, citing legal requirements as saying that for a position such as temple chairperson, elections must be held every four years and office holders would be barred from seeking re-election. The chairpersonship at Dajia Jenn Lann Temple is a lucrative position, as the temple’s annual pilgrimage can
‘NO BUSINESS FOCUS’: The move would not change the platform’s mission, as part of it would remain accessible for free, the operator said
The Creative Comic Collection is to start putting part of its works behind an online paywall, the Taiwan Creative Content Agency, which operates the platform, said on Wednesday. Agency president Lee Ming-che (李明哲) said that requiring people to pay for some content, starting in the first half of this year, would bolster the platform’s fundamentals, adding that the fees would not benefit the agency’s business. Since turning into an online-only platform in 2020, the collection has offered people free access to all of its content, including serialized works, he said. Part of the collection would remain available for free, Lee added. We are also considering including works from publishing companies, which would allow them to decide whether fees should be charged for their content, Lee said. The fees would benefit publishers or artists who have made agreements with the platform, as well as to cover operational costs and service fees, he said. The collection’s mission to promote the Taiwanese comic industry remains unaffected, Lee said. The platform originated from an Academia Sinica project in 2009 that encouraged artists to create comics based on its archive, highlighting themes such as Taiwan’s history, culture, ecology and folklore. Asked about many members of the platform’s editorial team resigning in April last year, Lee said that the “issue has been settled.” On April 29 last year, the editorial team wrote on Facebook that it had disbanded. The move came after the platform a month earlier announced that the collection would continue to operate. The editors’ main complaint was the lack of stable funding for the platform and ambiguous phrasing in their contracts. Lee said that the agency is on good terms with its editors and the contracted artists whose work it is promoting. Some of its comics would be featured at the Taipei International Book Exhibition in June, he added.
FALLING SHORT: Premier Su Tseng-chang said that the amendments show Taiwan’s resolve to connect with the international community and become a CPTPP member
The Executive Yuan yesterday approved draft amendments to the Copyright Act (著作權法) and the Trademark Act (商標法) to bring the nation’s laws more in line with the requirements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which Taiwan has applied to join. Under the amendments, drafted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, digital piracy, the illegal distribution of data and the public streaming of data would — legally speaking — be a case of Antragsdelikt, or “no trial without complaint.” That is, if the plaintiff or alleged victim does not bring charges, the police cannot initiate an investigation. The amendments define copyright infringement as acts that violate the rights of others who have paid for their goods, acts that duplicate works in their entirety and acts that have cost rights owners more than NT$1 million (US$36,185). Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday that the amendments demonstrate Taiwan’s resolve to connect with the international community and are in line with the government’s intent to join the CPTPP. Considering that compact discs (CDs) are no longer the main source of copyright infringement, legal clauses — and fines — specifically mentioning or targeting the distribution of CDs were removed from the amendments. The amendments to the Trademark Act no longer contain clauses stating that individuals must “clearly understand the ramifications of their actions” for them to be considered offenders of falsifying or forging trademarks. Any action of forgery or falsifying trademarks would be considered an intentional or negligent offense, the amendments say. Under the amendments, the forgery or falsifying of trademarks would be a criminal offense and offenders would face penalties to further protect sales and profits for owners with trademark rights. Peer-to-peer sharing would be considered public streaming and reduplication, the amendments say, and would not be considered a case of Antragsdelikt. Intellectual Property Office
CONNECTIONS: Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang said Vice President William Lai would have meetings by telephone and via video link with US officials
Vice President William Lai (賴清德) is to transit through California and hold talks with US officials on his way to and from Honduras, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said in a statement yesterday. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) named Lai as her envoy to the inauguration ceremony of Honduran president-elect Xiomara Castro on Thursday next week. The trip would be the first time that Lai has traveled overseas since taking office in May 2020. Lai would depart from Taiwan on Tuesday next week and arrive the next day in Los Angeles, where he would stay over before traveling to the Central American nation on Thursday, Chang said. After wrapping up his visit in Honduras on Saturday next week, Lai would make a stopover in San Francisco before returning to Taiwan the following day, he added. During his stopovers in the US, Lai would have meetings by telephone and via video link with US government officials and political representatives, as well as members of the overseas Taiwanese community, Chang said, without providing further details. No in-person meetings have been arranged due to COVID-19 concerns, he added. Chang said the US government would provide the 26-member Taiwanese delegation with a reception and treatment of a “high standard.” The governments of Taiwan and the US talked about Lai’s COVID-19 vaccination and agreed that he did not need an additional one. The US requires visitors to be fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine on its list of approved vaccines. However, Lai received three doses of the Taiwan-made Medigen vaccine, which has yet to be added to the US list. While in Honduras, Yui said that Lai is expected to interact with foreign dignitaries at the ceremony, including US Vice President Kamala Harris, who is to lead a US delegation. Lai would meet with Castro to convey Tsai’s congratulations and discuss matters related to bilateral ties, Yui
The Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau on Wednesday said it is developing software to identify deepfakes as part of its efforts to prevent the dissemination of false information by hostile foreign forces ahead of the local government elections in November. In a statement, the bureau said it is also collaborating with prosecutors to crack down on vote buying and the infiltration of foreign funds in the Nov. 26 local government elections. Deepfakes use sophisticated machine-learning techniques to manipulate videos and other presentations of public figures so that they express something unintended by the original, the bureau said, adding that it is working with tech firms to develop software to counter any such attempts ahead of the elections. Deepfakes backed by foreign entities were last used to discredit the government’s handling of a local COVID-19 outbreak, it said. About 234 people in 174 cases have been investigated for spreading false information during the outbreak, which lasted from May to July last year and prompted a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert, it added. The bureau said that it has also established a task force to deal with corporate espionage, especially to investigate alleged efforts by China to poach talent and steal trade secrets from key industries in Taiwan, such as the semiconductor and petrochemical industries. On Wednesday, three locations in New Taipei City were raided as part of an investigation into a Taiwanese firm that was allegedly recruiting talent for a Chinese semiconductor company, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said.