A survey on deviant behavior and delinquency among teenagers showed that nearly 98 percent of the respondents are concerned about substance abuse, with more than 90 percent also worried about street gangs. The survey, released yesterday by the Professor Huang Kun-huei Education Foundation last month, asked people aged 20 and above about their experiences with and opinions on teenage delinquency, and showed widespread concern over peer pressure leading teenagers to commit crimes. While 97.9 percent of the respondents said they were most concerned about substance abuse, street gangs (94.9 percent), self-harm (90.9 percent) and theft (90.4 percent) were also significant concerns to the respondents, the study showed. Bullying on the Internet was a concern to about 70 percent of the respondents, while 61 percent said that they knew of cases in which teenagers were physically bullied. Teenagers experiencing negative peer pressure in school, and frustration with coursework and teachers were seen as factors that could lead to teenage delinquency. The survey showed that 78.3 percent of the respondents saw peer pressure among teenagers as the main factor, while frustration with the coursework (57 percent) and negative experiences with teachers (51 percent) were also seen as potential causes for teenage delinquency. When asked about behaviors that teenagers could exhibit when they have been experiencing frustrations or failures in schools for a long period of time, 72.5 percent said they could develop emotional problems, whereas 58.4 said they could refuse to go school. Concerning preventive factors, 86.7 percent of the respondents said that teenagers who like learning and going to school would be less likely to become delinquent, while 10.4 percent disagreed. Asked which preventive measure schools should take, 76.2 percent of the respondents said that schools should help develop students’ interest in learning. Nearly 72 percent said that schools should nurture positive attitudes,
CULTURAL HERITAGE: Being a centerpiece of Taipei’s efforts to promote local history, the museum, housed in a Japanese colonial building, is one of the city’s finest
Sitting on a hillside in Taipei’s Bei-tou (北投), a century-old district home to the nation’s oldest hot springs community, a two-story, wooden Japanese-style building has been a permanent feature as long as anyone can remember. The Beitou Museum is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, and museum director Saalih Lee (李莎莉) has said that she hopes to breathe new life into the old building. Built in 1921, the structure was initially the Kazen Hotel, colonial Taiwan’s most luxurious hot springs resort, Lee said. “This building celebrates the wabi-sabi aesthetic,” Lee said, referring to a traditional Japanese worldview centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Whether an unequal leaf door decorated with cloudy glass, a deserted bathhouse covered in green tiles, or a hidden Zen garden in the building’s central yard, she hopes that visitors would appreciate the museum building for its original style, Lee said. In its early years, the building was often used by the Japanese military, and at one point, it was a guesthouse for kamikaze pilots, said Lee, who has been museum director for 16 years. The building changed hands after 1945, became a private museum in 1984 and was designated an historic site by the Taipei City Government in 1998, she said. Despite its age, the 2,500m2 structure remains full of vitality and offers a combination of cultural exhibitions, dining events and recreational activities, such as fashion shows, Lee said. Having won the inaugural prize for preserving cultural heritage from the city government last month, the museum is a centerpiece of Taipei’s efforts to promote the idea of museums without walls, Taipei Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤) said. “Taipei is not only a bustling city, but also a city that breathes,” Tsai said. Through places such as the Beitou Museum, which is largely based on local participation and aims to enhance the welfare
A research team at National Taiwan University (NTU) discovered an unlikely connection between the physiological phenomenon known as goosebumps and the treatment of hair loss, publishing their findings on Thursday in the scientific journal Cell. The team, led by Lin Sung-jan (林頌然), a professor at NTU’s biomedical engineering department, examined the effects of the sympathetic nervous system — which regulates some of the body’s unconscious actions — on hair follicle stem cells responsible for hair growth. The researchers started by analyzing the phenomenon of goosebumps, a sympathetic nervous response involving the contraction of tiny arrector pili muscles, which causes hair to stand up straight. This response helps insulate the body from temperature loss and serves as a vestigial reflex against perceived threats, Lin said. While humans have evolved to have less hair than their prehistoric ancestors, the response made archaic humans seem larger and more imposing, Lin said, citing the way a cat’s fur stands up when the animal senses danger. In its research, Lin’s team observed that sympathetic nerve responses activate hair follicle stem cells — something that is necessary to start the cycle of hair growth. In people experiencing hair loss, the researchers found that arrector pili muscle reactions were mostly absent in the affected areas. This suggests that the biological mechanism behind baldness was closely connected to the sympathetic nervous system, Lin said. By examining this connection, Lin’s team discovered that sympathetic nerves near hair follicle stem cells formed structures similar to nerve synapses, which release adrenaline as a signal for the stem cells to become active. The research team hopes the findings will contribute to the development of drugs that activate the stem cells, prompting them to regenerate hair, Lin said. The article, titled “Cell Types Promoting Goosebumps Form a Niche to Regulate Hair Follicle Stem Cells,”
Chunghwa Post Co is redesigning the uniforms for 11,000 postal carriers nationwide, and is expected to introduce the new outfits to its employees by the end of this year, the state-run company said. The carriers’ outfits were last redesigned in 2015, but many employees complained about the clothes’ heaviness in warm weather and a generally poor design, the company said. The current uniforms are made of durable Tetoron and cotton. The company has invited employees and outside experts to join discussions on the redesign, Chunghwa Post president Chiang Jui-tang (江瑞堂) said on Saturday. While the carriers currently wear all-green uniforms, the new outfits would for the first time include silver-colored elements, Chiang said, adding that many experts have found drafts for the new design satisfying. The new uniform top would resemble a polo shirt and be made from breathable fabrics, the company said, adding that there would also be a new vest featuring several pockets. The new pants, also to be made from light but durable fabrics, would look more crisp and resemble police uniform pants, it said, adding that a purse could be attached to the pants. Male and female carriers would continue to wear the same uniforms, the company said, adding that there would be smaller sizes for women. The company would order 33,000 new outfits, three for each carrier, it said. Each uniform would cost nearly NT$1,600, about 30 percent more than the previous version, as the redesign effort aims at high quality, instead of cost reduction, it said. A tender for producing the new uniforms was also announced. The firm winning the bid would be expected to produce the uniforms within three months, so that the new outfits would be ready by the end of this year, Chunghwa Post said.
Tropical Storm Jangmi is not likely to make landfall in the nation, but people in central and southern Taiwan should beware of heavy rainfall brought by the southwest monsoon, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said yesterday. The storm formed at 2am yesterday, developing from a tropical depression system off the northeast coast of the Philippines, bureau data showed. Jangmi’s center was 460km east of Taipei as of 2pm, moving northeast at 45kph. Maximum wind speed near its center reached 65kph and its radius was 80km, the data showed. The storm would be 300km northwest of Japan’s Nagasaki by 2pm today, the bureau said, adding that passengers and sea vessels should monitor weather updates. Jangmi was accelerating as it traveled north and would arrive at South Korea today, bureau forecaster Lee Meng-hsuan (李孟軒) said, adding that it would not directly affect Taiwan. The weather in Taiwan would worsen today as the storm would carry with it humidity from a low-pressure system in the south as it moves north, Lee said, adding it would affect the nation until tomorrow. Chances of rain would be high nationwide today and tomorrow, Lee said, adding that people in the central, southern and eastern regions should beware of damage caused by heavy rainfall. Temperatures in the south would reach 31°C to 32°C, he said. High temperatures in the rest of the nation would vary between 31°C and 34°C, Lee said.
KAOHSIUNG CAMPAIGN: Top DPP officials attended a rally last night, the KMT is working on its election-eve rally and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je worked the crowds for the TPP’s man
Campaigning for the Kaohsiung mayoral by-election ratcheted up a notch yesterday ahead of Saturday’s vote, as the three candidates canvassed voters in the hope of being the one to succeed Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), who was removed from office after a June 6 recall vote. Vice President William Lai (賴清德), Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦), Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌), Hsinchu Mayor Lin Chih-chien (林志堅) and Chiayi County Commissioner Weng Chang-liang (翁章梁) attended last night’s rally for former vice premier Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) candidate, DPP spokesperson Liao Tai-hsiang (廖泰翔) said. Former vice president Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) is to accompany Chen Chi-mai this week, Liao said. The party’s Kaohsiung chapter has only one job ahead of the election: to canvas for votes, he added. The party has invited DPP Legislator Lai Pin-yu (賴品妤) and Chen Chi-mai’s international affairs consultant Enoch Wu (吳怡農) — both considered leaders among the DPP’s younger generation — to appear in a campaign video, hoping to increase the turnout rate among voters aged 40 or under, Liao said. The party’s six county commissioners and mayors have been invited to appear in a second video to show that having the DPP in power would ensure quality governance, he said. The DPP also plans to roll out a series of videos in which Chen Chi-mai explains his policy platforms and his determination to institute change in Kaohsiung, he said. The KMT said that KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) would be in Kaohsiung on election day to show support for its candidate, Kaohsiung City Councilor Jane Lee (李眉蓁). The KMT is considering having Han share the stage with Lee at a rally on Friday night, KMT spokeswoman Hung Yu-chien (洪于茜) said, adding that several high-level party officials would also stump for Lee on Friday. They could include
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has reportedly tapped caucus secretary-general Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) to serve as its spokesperson for issues related to constitutional amendments. Party headquarters chose Cheng over caucus whip Lin Wei-chou (林為洲), because it considered Lin as being prone to making remarks that could be at odds with its stance, sources with knowledge of the matter said on Saturday, adding that the appointment of a spokesperson was aimed at preventing such contradictions. While Lin and some other KMT lawmakers have expressed support for abolishing the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan, most KMT members oppose the move, the sources said. The public is unlikely to approve calls to transfer the Control Yuan’s investigative powers to the Legislative Yuan, as the public largely has a negative view about the legislature, they said. Even if the KMT persists in its bid to abolish the two branches of government, Control Yuan President Chen Chu (陳菊), whose appointment was approved by the legislature last month, would still serve out her six-year term until 2026, the sources said. KMT headquarters is inclined to shift the focus to formulating draft constitutional amendments that would allow opposition parties to provide more checks and balances on the government, they said. KMT hardliners have doubts about abolishing the branches, as they were established in accordance with Sun Yat-sen’s (孫逸仙) “five branches” ideal, they added. Even though KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) had said that he supported abolishing the two, he likely wanted to double down on the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) claim that it would work toward that aim, as he believed that the DPP was not serious about the issue, they said. A source from the KMT’s think tank echoed the views, saying that hardcore KMT supporters would not approve of Sun’s political system being dismantled. The KMT would not let the DPP take
The Awakening Foundation, the Birth Reform Alliance and lawmakers are pressing the government to allow expectant fathers to have five days of paid leave before their child is born to accompany their spouse to medical checkups. The Act of Gender Equality in Employment (性別工作平等法), which grants pregnant women five days of paid leave for medical checkups, should be amended, the groups and lawmakers said on Friday. Men often do not consider what fatherhood entails until after their child is born, and therefore have difficulty catching up with the bond formed between mother and baby, foundation general secretary Chou Yu-hsuan (周于萱) said. There is also insufficient social support for expectant fathers, as the prenatal period is focused on mothers-to-be, she said. The discrepancy in preparedness between husbands and wives often results in unequal distribution of the parenting workload after birth, and can lead to conflicts between the parents, she said. Article 15 of the act grants women paid leave for checkups, but nothing for their spouses who accompany them, foundation director of policy Chyn Yu-rung (覃玉蓉) said. Men wanting to accompany their spouses to prenatal checkups often need to use vacation time or take unpaid leave, she said. Alliance managing director Hsu Shu-hui (徐書慧) said fathers in France and Portugal can take three days of paid leave to accompany their spouses on prenatal checkups, while those in Sweden can apply for a 10-day leave to accompany spouses to child-rearing classes or prenatal checkups. Taiwan should look to Sweden as a positive example, she said. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) said that a survey last year found that 92.62 percent of workers, 97.78 percent of employers and 81.25 percent of unions were in favor of paid leave for fathers to accompany spouses on checkups. He has drafted a proposal for an
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday tweeted a welcome to Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, who arrived on Friday. Mohamoud had “braved Chinese pressure” to take up his new post, Wu wrote. “The fact ‘sovereignty & friendship aren’t for sale’ deserves international recognition,” referring to a Somaliland media report earlier this month that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi had rejected an offer by the Chinese government in exchange for ending its rapprochement with Taiwan. Wu also thanked the US National Security Council (NSC) for praising Taiwan-Somaliland ties. A council tweet on July 10 praised Taiwan for “stepping up its engagement in East Africa,” adding that Taiwan is a great partner in health, education and technical assistance, among other areas. Mohamoud on Saturday also hailed his arrival with a tweet. “#Somaliland-#Taiwan relations will always remain intact. We are ready to establish good relations with all countries — those we share values of democracy are special,” he wrote. The government and Somaliland on July 1 announced that they would open representative offices within each other’s borders. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said the two offices would open later this month or next month.
GREENPEACE REPORT: A December 2019 report raised questions about the actions, or lack of them, by local agencies, two Control Yuan members have said
Two Control Yuan members have announced an investigation into government agencies for alleged leniency toward two Taiwanese-owned fishing boats accused of abusive labor practices toward migrant fishermen. Wang Mei-yu (王美玉) and Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲) said in a press release on Friday that their investigation was triggered by a report by Greenpeace Southeast Asia in December last year that recounted the alleged use of forced labor, including excessive overtime, physical abuse and withholding of wages, against migrant fishermen on several distant-water fishing vessels, including two that are Taiwanese-owned. An investigation is needed to determine whether leniency by local agencies was involved, they said. They also said that the government needs to come up with a viable solution to the issue of flag-of-convenience (FOC) vessels, which are often found to take part in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as forced labor or human trafficking. Seabound: The Journey to Modern Slavery on the High Seas included testimonials from several Indonesian fishers who had worked on the Da Wang (大旺) and Chin Chun 12 (金春12), in which they described working conditions aboard the Taiwanese boats as inhumane. They said that their work hours were different from those specified in their contracts and that they had not been paid the specified wages. The report said the Da Wang is owned by Yong Feng Fishery Co, while the Chin Chun 12 is owned by Sheng Sheng Fishery Co, but both are FOC ships that are registered in Vanuatu. Greenpeace Southeast Asia said the companies and individuals linked to the vessels named in the complaints had denied inhumane treatment of crews. The Fisheries Agency on April 9 said that it had forwarded some cases based on the report to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office for investigation. It “does not tolerate the occurrence of violence and physical abuse aboard fishing vessels, and in the event
Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil said his upcoming visit to Taiwan would reflect his belief in the importance of values, not only in foreign policy, but as a condition for achieving economic prosperity. Vystrcil’s delegation, which is to include about 90 senators, business leaders and scientists, is to arrive on Aug. 30 and depart on Sept. 4 to promote stronger economic and technological ties. Vystrcil spoke of his expectations for the trip during an interview last week with the Central News Agency. All members of the delegation would undergo a 14-day quarantine before leaving for Taiwan, and would also have to test negative for COVID-19 twice, he said. The representatives of more than 40 Czech enterprises and other members of the delegation planned to discuss collaboration on research into nanofabrics, artificial intelligence and modern waste processing technologies, he said. He said he also expects to hold broader discussions on social topics, democracy and freedom — values which he sees as constituting “the cornerstone of prosperity.” “Taiwan is a clear example of this,” he said, adding that its transition to democracy went hand-in-hand with its economic rise. Vystrcil said he had faced pressure from some other Czechs, including Czech President Milos Zeman, who has prioritized the financial benefits of maintaining strong relations with China. “My view is that if we focus on money, we will lose our values and the money, too,” he said. “I am convinced that a condition for achieving economic prosperity is keeping our values,” he said, citing former Czech president Vaclav Havel. The planned trip won the support of 50 out of 52 senators present for a vote in May, he said. This support reflected the duty of a national legislature to “extend” itself into areas in which a nation’s foreign policy showed a “deficit,” he said.
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed
The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these illegal electric vehicles, they could become a danger to consumers’ personal safety,” the foundation said. In a spot check last month of 12 vehicles sold on auction Web sites and online retail platforms, the foundation found that five of the vehicles reached speeds exceeding the legal limit, it said. Two of them reached 60kph, similar to fuel-powered motorcycles with engines between 50cc and 250cc that require white license plates, it said. The foundation also found numerous video tutorials and online articles on the modification of electric bicycles, for example to remove factory-installed speed limiters, it said, adding that a traffic accident with a modified vehicle might be fatal. Under stipulations of the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰條例), people who exceed the 25kph speed limit can be fined between NT$900 and NT$1,800. The number of accidents involving electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters in 2018 almost doubled from 2014, but police were still at odds over how to handle traffic violations involving the vehicles, which occupy a “fuzzy space” between bicycle regulations and regulations for heavier two-wheelers. However, as the vehicles pose an alternative for those without a license or those who are attracted by their low cost — such
HEALTH HAZARD: While the recreational use of the anesthetic poses great dangers, diseases such as melioidosis are often overlooked by doctors
Inhaling nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, can cause weak limbs, depression, incontinence, or even leave users in a vegetative state, a psychiatrist warned. Depending on the amount of laughing gas inhaled, a person might also develop tinnitus, degenerative spine conditions, psychosis and hallucinations, said Ho Jen-chi (何仁琦), a psychiatrist at Da Chien General Hospital Nanshih Branch, referring to a case late last month in Miaoli County. A 27-year-old man, surnamed Ho (何), was found to have inhaled laughing gas in his car while parked with the engine still running on the side of a road, according to police reports. After receiving a call from a passerby, who suspected the man had committed suicide, police said they found two pressure bottles containing laughing gas and balloons used for inhalation in the car. The man, who was delirious after being awakened by police, told them that he had tried to numb his pain after a breakup, police said. Laughing gas is commonly used as an anesthetic during dental procedures, but police said they have seen cases of recreational use increase in the past few years. Although not classified as an illegal drug in Taiwan, laughing gas is subject to regulations on medical gases by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The Miaoli District Court fined the man NT$8,000 for breaches of the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法). In other news, a doctor urged people — especially those with jobs in agriculture, horticulture, or involving frequent contact with soil — to always wear shoes and gloves to prevent melioidosis, an infectious disease. The bacteria causing melioidosis are found in contaminated water and soil, and can infect people who ingest or inhale water droplets or dust, or have direct contact with contaminated soil, especially through skin abrasions, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital Division of Infectious Disease director Lee Yun-chi (李允吉) said. The
A database on biodiversity in Taiwan has compiled records of almost 10 million wildlife sightings, making it the second-largest wildlife index in Asia, with the vast majority of data coming from volunteers, the Council of Agriculture’s Endemic Species Research Institute said. The Taiwan Biodiversity Network, which was launched in 2007, has recorded 9.87 million animal and plant sightings, Ko Chih-jen (柯智仁), an assistant researcher at the institute, said on Friday, adding that India maintains Asia’s largest database with up to 19 million recorded sightings. Birds are the most widely tracked animals in the nation, with 7.47 million reported sightings, Ko said. They are followed by butterflies and moths, with 410,000 sightings, and frogs, with about 100,000, the database showed. More than 8.5 million, or 87 percent of the sightings, were submitted by volunteers after the institute began accepting reports from the public in 2017, Ko said. Seven percent of the sightings came from publicly sponsored projects, while 5 percent are based on museum records, he added. The remainder, accounting for less than 1 percent, came from scientific research, non-governmental organizations or genetic sequencing projects, Ko said. The database can help conservationists track changes in the population of various species and contribute to public safety. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control bases the nationwide distribution of antivenom on the database’s records of poisonous snake sightings, institute director Yang Jia-dong (楊嘉棟) said. In addition to recording wildlife sightings, the institute also promotes civilian science initiatives and education on topics such as roadkill prevention and wildlife conservation on farmland, he added.
Vieshow Cinemas’ Taipei Sun, a digital IMAX movie theater in downtown Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) area, is to close next month after the expiration of its lease. The cinema on Friday made the surprise announcement on Facebook that it is to cease operation on Sept. 7, after serving Taipei’s movie enthusiasts for 13 years. Since its opening on Aug. 3, 2007, the Taipei Sun, has been an important venue for young people and left many of its guests with joyful memories, the theater said. To express its gratitude to regular theater patrons, the Taipei Sun said it is launching a buy-one-get-one-free ticket campaign and offering special gifts. The cinema has four auditoriums, including one equipped with a digital IMAX screen and 836 seats, with 6 seats reserved for disabled patrons. The area surrounding the movie theater, which is housed in a more than 50-year-old building near Exit 6 of the MRT Ximen Station, is highly frequented by young locals and foreign travelers. Sources said that the cinema’s landlord plans to have a shopping mall built at the location. Asked whether Vieshow Cinemas plans to open a new cinema in Ximending, Lee Kuang-chueh (李光爵), spokesman for the cinema chain, said that the company does not rule out the possibility of future cooperation with the same landlord. The Taipei Sun’s predecessor, the Sunrise Theater, opened in September 1966. Local media said Vie Show spent about NT$60 million (US$2.04 million at the current exchange rate) renovating the building before opening the Taipei Sun. Last year, the Taipei Sun generated more than NT$100 million in sales and attracted about 400,000 customers, making it one of the top-grossing cinemas in Taiwan.
The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) yesterday said it is to extend the eligibility for the government-funded hepatitis B and C screening program, allowing people aged 45 to 79 to get tested for free. The program that started in 2011 is currently limited to people aged 45 to 54. At the Liver Disease Prevention and Treatment Research Foundation’s 26th Anniversary event in Taipei yesterday, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said the HPA is expanding the eligibility so that people can get treatment as early as possible. Starting from September, people born in or before 1966 would be eligible, he said. HPA Deputy Director-General Chia Shu-li (賈淑麗) said that in the past few years, cases of liver cirrhosis in people aged 55 to 60 have increased, leading to the decision to expand the program. Due to the nation’s aging population and a longer life expectancy, the HPA deemed that the upper age limit was no longer suitable, she said. The HPA expects that an additional 560,000 people could receive a free tests between September and the end of next year, Chia said, adding that with the current positivity rate of hepatitis C tests at about 3.7 to 4 percent, an additional 17,000 to 20,000 hepatitis C virus carriers could be detected.
CARBON NEUTRAL: While the organizers urged the government to do more to reduce pollution, the EPA said its efforts had reduced the number of ‘red’ air alerts in Taichung
Environmental groups yesterday held a parade in Taichung, calling on the government to work harder to cut air pollution and coal use, and outline plans to achieve a carbon-neutral society. The annual parade was headed by Air Clean Taiwan chairman Yeh Guang-perng (葉光芃) and Changhua Mayor Lin Shih-hsien (林世賢) of the Democratic Progressive Party, who dressed as “tree men” to draw attention to climate issues. Participants gathered at a park in front of the city government’s new municipal building and marched to the Executive Yuan’s Central Taiwan Joint Services Center. This year is the most crucial time for people to choose a future of sustainability or extinction, Lin said. The mayor called on the government to face environmental crises by making climate action a priority and working harder to cut coal use. The parade organizers urged the government to declare a climate emergency and promote new “green” policies; improve air pollution and cut coal use, especially in central and southern municipalities; and announce a timetable to achieve a carbon-neutral society by 2050, Yeh said. The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday said in a statement that the government agrees with the groups on reducing pollution. Since 2018, the EPA and the Ministry of Economic Affairs have tracked pollutants emitted by coal-burning power plants and other major state-run enterprises, and have created plans to cut pollution, it said. Increasing power generation from green energy and natural gas, and reducing the use of coal-fired power are central to the government’s policy for curtailing pollution, the EPA said. The ratio of coal-burning power is to decline from 48 percent in 2018 to 27 percent by 2025 under the government’s plan, it said. In Taichung, the frequency of “red” air quality alerts from monitoring stations — meaning that the air quality has reached an unhealthy level for all people — fell from 71 times in
STALLED DEVELOPMENT: The rise in prices of gravel and ready-mixed concrete could halt public projects and lead to temporary layoffs in the sector
The National Audit Office yesterday predicted an unexpected increase in the price of gravel and ready-mixed concrete this month due to a shortage of 400,000 to 450,000 tonnes. From 2010 to last year, demand in Taiwan for gravel was 73.94 million tonnes per year, of which 12.17 million tonnes, or 16.44 percent, were imported, primarily from China, the agency said, citing Bureau of Mines statistics. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, gravel imports from January to March declined 12.22 million tonnes from the same period over the past three years, it said. The agency estimates that, in addition to a gravel shortage from mines in northern Taiwan, the nation is to have a monthly shortage of 400,000 to 450,000 tonnes. The government’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program has driven up annual demand for gravel by 4 million tonnes until late 2024, increasing the risk of an extended shortage, the agency said. The shortage has unexpectedly pushed up the price of gravel: between NT$2,070 and NT$2,560 per cubic meter in the first quarter of this year, compared with between NT$1,980 and NT$2,280 per cubic meter in the third quarter of last year, it said. Price increases vary by area, with increases of 4.55 percent to 12.28 percent, it added. The rise in gravel and ready-mixed concrete prices could stall public construction and lead to temporary layoffs in the construction sector, the agency said. Over the past decade, Taiwan has produced 61.86 million tonnes of gravel — 46.81 million tonnes, or 63.23 percent, from river dredging; 12.13 million tonnes, or 16.4 percent, from leftover construction material; 2.51 million tonnes, or 3.4 percent, from mining; and 390,000 tonnes, or 0.53 percent, from gravel excavation, the agency said. Referring to river dredging as the nation’s main source of gravel, the agency said that the government should diversify gravel production, as long as the move
The Ministry of the Interior yesterday confirmed that it has postponed its plan to issue electronic national identification cards (eIDs) in October due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cards would likely be issued in the first quarter of next year at the earliest on a trial basis in selected cities and counties, Department of Household Registration Affairs Director Wanda Chang (張琬宜) said. The preparation work for the eIDs is still ongoing and the date of a nationwide release would be determined after evaluating the results of the trial, she added. The ministry would provide an update once it decides which administrative regions are to participate in the trial, she said. The ministry said the pandemic had delayed delivery of machinery, which is manufactured overseas, needed to make the new cards. The ministry originally planned to send personnel abroad to retrieve samples of the eIDs, but that has also been disrupted by the pandemic, Chang said. The ministry had initially planned to finish updating the national identification cards of all 23.5 million Taiwanese by the end of 2023. The card would display as little personal information as possible, showing the Republic of China flag, along with a person’s name, national identification number, date of birth and headshot, as well as their marital status — but not the spouse’s name — and date of issuance and expiration, a source close to the matter said. The ministry is also considering releasing an app that would allow people to authenticate their identity on mobile devices when they apply for government services, the source added. Groups, including the Taiwan Association for Human Rights and the Judicial Reform Foundation, have voiced concerns over plans to start issuing eIDs, and have called on the Control Yuan to investigate the matter, saying the cards are an invasion of privacy. They said that eIDs would become a tool for
The Taipei City Government yesterday said that construction on the long-suspended Taipei Dome can resume immediately, after it approved a request by the project’s main contractor, Farglory Group. In a statement, the Taipei Construction Management Office said that after it on July 16 issued a new building permit, Farglory submitted revised design plans and an application to resume construction, which the office approved on Friday. Construction had been suspended on the dome, near the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Xinyi District (信義), for more than five years due to disagreements between the city and the company over the safety of some of its features. However, Farglory later agreed to rebuild parts of the dome that were not constructed according to plans, reduce the venue’s overall capacity and increase fire safety and evacuation facilities, the office said. While the office is allowing construction to resume, it also called attention to its ongoing disagreements with the contractor. It said that Farglory must add safety and fireproofing features to several of the dome’s stairwells to receive a usage permit, citing Article 97 of the Building Technical Regulations (建築技術規則). In addition, if Farglory wants the facility to be used to host concerts and other large-scale gatherings, it needs to pass a performance-based design review by the Taiwan Architecture and Building Center, the office said. It added that it had fined Farglory and ordered it to remove cotton sound insulation, which the contractor had installed at the building site without permission. Although Farglory has filed an appeal, the office has said it was within its rights under the Administrative Appeals Act (行政訴訟法) to issue fines and would continue to do so until the contractor removed the insulation. The statement also said that Farglory had appointed a new supervising architect, but said the developer must still obtain the city’s authorization to appoint a new design