The New Taipei City Government’s decision on Tuesday to stray from common practice regarding typhoon work and school cancelations triggered a spat among local government heads, with Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) calling the decision politically motivated.
Due to the effects of Typhoon Maria, which passed through northern Taiwan from late Tuesday to early yesterday, classes and work were canceled yesterday in New Taipei City, Taoyuan and Hsinchu, as well as in Matsu, Hsinchu, Miaoli and Yilan counties.
The New Taipei City Government was among the first to make a cancelation announcement at about 9pm on Tuesday, while the Taipei and Keelung city governments an hour later decided that work and classes would operate as usual, citing Central Weather Bureau data indicating that the expected amount of rainfall and wind speed did not meet the criteria for school and work cancelation.
It was the first time in six years that Taipei, New Taipei City and Keelung have failed to make an uniform decision on whether to cancel work and school on a typhoon day, a practice that has been observed since 2012 out of consideration of the large number of people who commute among the three administrative regions.
Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) of the Democratic Progressive Party on Facebook accused New Taipei City of letting the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections get in the way of the nation’s operations.
Considering the bureau’s statistics, the three municipalities were initially leaning toward not canceling work and school, Lin said.
“However, New Taipei City sent us a message after 8pm on Tuesday saying that it was going to cancel work and school at 9pm regardless of what we decided,” Lin said, adding that the decision left him and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) dumbfounded and put them in a difficult position.
Lin said he and Ko believed that New Taipei City’s insistence on canceling work and school regardless of the data was an attempt to prevent New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) from coming under attack for being abroad when a typhoon swept through his city.
Chu returned from Singapore yesterday evening.
Lin said that one of his aides advised him to follow in New Taipei City’s footsteps, as he is seeking re-election this year, but he chose not to, because he wanted to stand by his principles.
New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Lee Shu-chuan (李四川) said neither he nor Chu is running for office and that what mattered to them the most was resident safety.
“Only God can accurately predict the weather,” Lee said, adding that it is never easy for a local government to decide whether to cancel work and school, because public reactions tend to be mixed.
Meanwhile, Ko defended his decision not to declare a typhoon day, saying that his principle has always been “respecting the [opinions of] experts” and following standard practices.
“Experts already told us that the typhoon did not meet the criteria for school and work cancelation. If we spend a lot of time cultivating this team of experts, but choose not to listen to their opinions, then what is the point of having them?” Ko said.
As many companies have employees from Taipei and New Taipei City, several firms, including Pegatron Corp (和碩), KKBOX Inc and CoolBitX (庫幣科技), decided to call a holiday for all employees.
Additional reporting by Lai Hsiao-tung, Huang Chien-hao and Ann Maxon
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South
‘CORRUPTION’: One DPP lawmaker and two KMT legislators were held incommunicado, while former NPP chairman Hsu Yung-ming was released on bail in the Pacific Sogo case The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that three lawmakers be held incommunicado amid a probe into allegedly bribery relating to an ownership dispute over Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). The three are Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) of the Democratic Progressive Party, and Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Also held incommunicado were Su’s office director Yu Hsueh-yang (余學洋) and Sufin’s office director Ting Fu-hua (丁復華), as well as Kuo Ke-ming (郭克銘), a political lobbyist and general manager of Knowledge International Consultancy (是知管理顧問公司). The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Friday raided the offices of six incumbent and former