The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday released new on-campus COVID-19 prevention guidelines, stating that masks can be taken off while exercising, singing, dancing, performing, taking photographs, dining, drinking, video and voice recording, hosting events, presenting speeches and lecturing outdoors. Large outdoor events organized by schools should comply with the mask regulations issued by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), it added. The new guidelines came into effect yesterday, and people in Taiwan are no longer required to wear masks outdoors for the first time since May 19 last year. The CECC announced the easing of the mask mandate on Monday, adding that it was still considering whether to impose the requirement at large open-air gatherings, such as during New Year’s Eve events when crowds gather closely. According to the new MOE guidelines, teachers can take off masks while lecturing indoors, but students should keep their masks on. Classrooms should be well ventilated and cleaned regularly, and equipment or tools used in class should be properly disinfected after use, the ministry said. The guidelines stipulate that mouthpieces of wind instruments as well as microphones cannot be shared during classes. Students should be divided into fixed groups while conducting experiments, and equipment should not be shared or should be disinfected before being handed over to others, the guidelines said. Schools should follow the CECC’s regulations when holding entrance exams and can adjust assessment methods if needed, it said. While holding on-site written exams, schools can refer to the disease prevention measures taken during the General Scholastic Ability Test and the Advanced Subjects Test this year, the ministry said. Health monitoring methods such as temperature measurements can be adjusted based on the venue and activities, it said. If school staff develop a fever, acute respiratory infection, abnormal sense of smell and taste, diarrhea or other symptoms, they should not go to work or enter
Birthrate ‘sacrifice’: Gender and women’s studies programs help societies break gender stereotypes and contribute to social liberalization, an international panel said
Students at Shih Hsin University’s Graduate Institute for Gender Studies have formed a group to protest an alleged plan to close the program, saying that the institute should not be sacrificed on account of the declining birthrate. Media have reported that the institute, northern Taiwan’s first graduate program for gender studies, is to be the latest scholastic casualty of the nation’s falling birthrate. An international panel meeting this week to evaluate Taiwan’s adherence to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women also raised concerns about the rumor. The panel requested a response from the Ministry of Education and the Executive Yuan. Gender and women’s studies programs play a crucial role in helping societies break gender stereotypes, panel members said, adding that more should be established. The ministry said it had not received notice of the program closing to new applicants. The school has said it intends to restructure the institute, but has said nothing about closing, it added. Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said there are already few graduate programs for gender studies in Taiwan. If more programs close, there would not be enough high-level research in the field, he said, adding that they would need government support to endure challenges posed by the declining birthrate. South Korean sociologist Shin Hei-soo, a member of the review panel, said yesterday that gender studies is a critical part of furthering societal change. University departments can decide what to research, but they also need government support in order to offer a wider variety of courses, Shin said. The student group raised two demands, starting with opposition to restructuring the program. Gender studies touches on many fields, including sociology, political science, legal studies and humanities, the group said. If it were absorbed into the College of Public Policy and Management or the College of Journalism and Communications, it would
The Supreme Court has upheld a High Court decision to sentence a Taoyuan man surnamed Hsieh (謝) to nine years in prison for the abuse of his three-year-old daughter that led to her death. Hsieh, who had previously been indicted on drug-related charges, beat his daughter with a wooden back scratcher on Aug. 4 last year after she refused to take a bath, the ruling said. He then forced his daughter to stand on a 31cm stool, and went to sleep, it said, adding that at 5:40am, Hsieh found his daughter on the floor unconscious, foaming at the mouth, and rushed her to a hospital. However, doctors were unable to revive her. An autopsy found she had died from a brain injury after falling off the stool and hitting her head on a chair, the ruling said. Hsieh was charged with contravening Article 286 of the Criminal Code, which states: “A person who maltreats a minor under the age of eighteen” resulting “in the death of [that minor] shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or imprisonment for not less than 10 years.” Hsieh had been living with his daughter and girlfriend at the time of the incident, and the daughter was from Hsieh’s previous marriage, the ruling said. The daughter had experienced delayed development, and had poor balance, it said. During the trial, Hsieh admitted to corporal punishment of his daughter, but said he did not have any intent to kill her. However, the collegial panel recommended heavy sentencing, saying that Hsieh beat the girl violently with a wooden stick, despite her being only three years old and being comparatively weak due to developmental issues. The High Court upheld the lower court’s decision to sentence Hsieh to nine years in prison. The Supreme Court rejected Hsieh’s appeal by upholding the High Court’s decision. The ruling is
The National Policy Foundation has launched a petition to urge the National Palace Museum to keep the Lanqian Shanguan art collection in Taiwan. The collection was entrusted to the museum by Lin Po-shou (林柏壽) and the descendants of the Lin Pen-yuan (林本源) family, which was one of the five most important families in Taiwan with history dating back to the Qing Dynasty. The lan and qian in the collection’s name refer to two great calligraphy works by Chu Sui-liang (褚遂良) and Huai Su (懷素) respectively. Lanqian Shanguan is the name of Lin Po-shou’s study room. Lin Po-shou signed an agreement with the museum in 1969 to entrust the collection, which has increased to 349 items, including 133 paintings and 107 works of calligraphy. However, the family was given only two weeks notice by the museum that the agreement would be terminated on Oct. 31. The foundation on Tuesday announced that it would launch a petition on the National Development Council’s Public Policy Online Participation Platform. The petition called for the museum to renew the agreement to entrust the collection, the Ministry of Culture to designate the collection a national treasure according to the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法) and for legislators to fulfill their responsibility of supervising the preservation of national treasures. Apollo Chen (陳學聖), convener of the National Policy Foundation’s Education and Sports Division, said the short notice left the family overwhelmed, as the collection had been in the museum during eight directors’ terms. The collection only occupies four cabinets so there is no lack of space, he said, adding that the law stipulated that the government should periodically conduct general surveys of, conserve and preserve national treasures. Board chairwoman of the Taiwan Art Revitalization Culture Foundation Lee Yong-ping (李永萍) said that a nation famous for its culture and soft power should legally protect its national treasures and
The New Taipei City District Court yesterday approved prosecutors’ request to detain a 63-year-old woman on suspicion of murdering her husband by allegedly slashing his throat. Police quoted the woman, surnamed Chi (季), as saying that she and her 72-year-old husband originally lived in Hsinchu, but later moved to New Taipei City’s Sanchong District (三重). The woman said in an affidavit that her husband had beaten her after drinking alcohol on Tuesday, and she allegedly used a knife to slit his throat and stab him in the chest five times at about 1am on Wednesday. She then called the police an hour later to turn herself in, it said. Over the 30 years that Chi had been married to her husband, she had reported domestic abuse 10 times — six times in Hsinchu and four times in New Taipei City, police records showed. She had rejected filing a restraining order against her husband until the latest incident a month ago, police said. Chi’s son and daughter had for years asked her to relocate or to live separately from her husband, but Chi reportedly declined because she feared “losing face,” and believed that family matters should stay within the family, the police report said. When giving her affidavit, Chi said she committed the act because she could no longer take the abuse. Chi’s daughter told police that she had witnessed her mother being domestically abused for many years, and that she had been diagnosed with depression because of the incidents. Additional reporting by Wang Ting-chuan
POPULATION DECLINE: About 113,200 people have left Hong Kong in the past year as the UK has accepted 95% of 140,500 special visa applications since January last year
The number of voters in Hong Kong has fallen for the first time in a decade, indicating a mass exodus as the territory’s controversial National Security Law approaches its third anniversary, the Mainland Affairs Council said in a report. According to the latest provisional voter roll released by the Hong Kong government, there were 4.42 million registered voters in the territory last year, the council said in a quarterly report to the legislature regarding Hong Kong, completed in October. The figure is 54,000 fewer than last year’s official voter registry, marking the first time in nearly a decade the voting population has declined, it said. Only the oldest group of voters, aged 61 or above, grew in numbers, while those aged 18 to 20 dropped by 40 percent, it said. The 35,800 newly registered voters also marked a 10-year low, it added. The council attributed the decline in part to an exodus from the territory, as conditions worsened under the National Security Law and new hardline Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee (李家超). It also cited the deterioration of Hong Kong’s electoral system, which has hampered willingness to register. Population data from earlier this year showed 7,291,600 Hong Kong citizens, a decline of 1.6 percent, or about 121,500 people, from the same time last year, the report said. It marked a third consecutive year of population decline and the lowest since 2016, it said. It also estimated a net loss of 113,200 people to emigration in the past year. The council cited a UN Human Rights Committee report in July that expressed concern about conditions in Hong Kong, fearing “overly broad interpretation of and arbitrary application” of the security law. In particular, it questioned the lack of clarity on what constitutes a criminal offense under the law, and expressed concern over the transfer of cases to the Chinese government for
HOPE FOR REFORM: Public fury bottled up for decades was ‘bound to explode’ among protesters who see Taiwan as an example for China to follow, analysts said
Widespread protests against China’s strict “zero COVID” policy and demanding political freedoms reflect public anger over Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) iron grip on power, some overseas Chinese activists said. Protests have broken out throughout China, and students and other residents have joined the “blank paper movement” in dozens of places after COVID-19 restrictions reportedly delayed rescue efforts in a deadly fire on Thursday last week in Urumqi, Xinjiang, leading to 10 deaths and nine injuries. Holding up blank sheets of paper has become a metaphor for speech censorship among Chinese. Han Wu (韓武), a US-based official of the China Democracy Party, which is banned by Beijing, said in Taipei on Tuesday that the protests were instigated by the Communist Youth League (CYL) faction known as tuanpai (團派), in response to Xi’s dominance of the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Han said that Xi, after securing a third term as head of the CCP at the party congress in October, removed top officials of the CYL who he considered a threat — Premier Li Keqiang (李克強), Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Chairman Wang Yang (汪洋) and Second Vice Premier Hu Chunhua (胡春華). Subsequently stacking China’s leadership ranks with loyalists was “met with opposition within the CCP and Chinese society,” said Han, who traveled to Taiwan to observe Saturday’s local elections. University of Western Australia associate professor Jie Chen (陳杰) said he was surprised to see that the demonstrations went beyond COVID-19 restrictions as protestors chanted slogans to demand “democracy, the rule of law, freedom and the right to vote.” The bold acts have defied a stereotype of the post-1990’s generation being more obedient, having been raised in an education system that stresses nationalism and party loyalty to the CCP, said Chen, who left for Australia to study in 1989. For a leader such as
The government should proceed with its plan to lengthen mandatory military service from four months to one year, regardless of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) losses in the local elections on Saturday, a defense expert said on Wednesday. As China has made strides in bolstering its offensive capabilities, Taiwanese armed forces face a demographic shift that is undermining recruitment efforts necessary to sustain a volunteer military, Institute of National Defense and Security Research analyst Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) said. The DPP’s stance on conscription was not a significant factor in its electoral performance, Su said, citing surveys that showed 65 percent of Taiwanese support a reverting to a one-year military draft, he said. Military conscription affects Taiwan’s security and survival, and was too important a matter to be politicized in the local elections, Su said. Taiwan’s armed forces recruited an average of 14,000 volunteer soldiers per year from 2016 to last year, he said, adding that the nation had 110,000 military-aged men in 2016. Census data show that the number of Taiwanese military-aged men could fall to about 74,000 people by 2025, which would lower enlistments to about 9,000 soldiers per year, he said. These enlistments would not be enough to sustain a volunteer force, he added. Modern warfare technology could make up for of some loss of reservists, some experts have said, but human skill and courage are more often the decisive factor in battle, Su said. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s emphasis on ambitious warfare through joint air, sea and land operations poses a steep challenge for Taiwanese forces, as defeating such an attack would likely require a resilient citizen army, he said. Utilizing conscripts to meet the requirements of nontechnical branches of the military could bolster Taiwan’s ability to counter a Chinese assault, he added. Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) told lawmakers in October that four
The Cabinet yesterday approved a draft amendment to the Commodity Tax Act (貨物稅條例) to extend the tax reduction period for people who trade in heavy-duty diesel vehicles for newer models, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement. The amendment would extend the period to 2026, it said. Buyers of diesel buses and trucks can receive a NT$400,000 tax break until the end of this year under the act. The incentive applies to owners of diesel vehicles manufactured before Sept. 30, 2006, or those made before Dec. 31, 2006, and had received an emissions conformity certificate from the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA). The extension of the tax break is intended to help reduce air pollution and to contribute to Taiwan’s goal to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the ministry said. About 78,000 heavy-duty diesel vehicles remain in use that meet the EPA’s older level 1 to level 3 emissions standards, it said, adding that they do not meet one of the three higher levels, the tightest being level 6. About 39,500 heavy-duty diesel vehicles had been phased out by the end of October through the government’s tax reduction incentive, the ministry said. Ministry of Finance Deputy Minister Chuang Tsui-yun (莊翠雲) said the draft amendment for a four-year extension was drawn up to encourage the disuse of the remaining diesel buses and trucks. The proposed amendment is to be reviewed by the legislature before being put to a vote.
The National Communications Commission (NCC) does not plan to push passage of the draft digital intermediary service act next year, as there is no public consensus on the necessity for the legislation, NCC Chairman Chen Yaw-shyang (陳耀祥) said yesterday. Some people have speculated that the broadcast media and telecom regulator might have hurt the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the local elections on Saturday by pushing for a bill that would restrict online speech freedoms. “We will not push [the draft act] if the public does not reach a consensus, nor do we have time to present a new version of the draft act next year,” Chen said. Chen was responding to a question from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) during a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee. The NCC presented the draft digital intermediary service act to generate public discussion on how the Internet should be governed and regulated, Chen said, adding that the commission is continuing efforts to have public dialogue on the matter despite halting the legislation. Separately, SET News, Formosa News and Era News have been asked by the NCC to conduct internal investigations after the commission on Saturday received five complaints about their election day news coverage, Chen said. The criticism was related to problems with the coverage of vote counts in the Taipei mayoral election, including two instances on SET News, two on Formosa News and one on Era News, the NCC said on Wednesday. The news networks were accused of deliberately inflating the vote tallies of DPP Taipei mayoral candidate Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), showing him leading the race in the early counting. Some people following SET News on the Internet reported that votes for the DPP Taipei mayoral candidate surged to 376,702 about 100 minutes after polls closed at 4pm, leaving that number static while incrementally adding votes
TRADE Japan leading fruit importer Japan has overtaken China to become the largest importer of fruit from Taiwan this year after a Japan-based trading company pledged to purchase 5,100 tonnes of fruit from the nation, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday. Wismettac Foods Inc president Hiroshi Tsujikawa signed an agreement with the COA in Tokyo to purchase a minimum of 3,500 tonnes of pineapples, 1,500 tonnes of bananas and 100 tonnes of frozen pineapples per year. Japan bought about 56.6 percent of Taiwan’s fruit exports from January to October this year, supplanting China in Taiwan’s fruit sales, COA Deputy Minister Chen Tien-shou (陳添壽) said, adding that Japan bought 28.9 percent of Taiwan’s food exports last year. WEATHER Wet weather set to linger Cool and wet weather is likely to persist today in northern parts of Taiwan due to seasonal northeasterly winds, the Central Weather Bureau said yesterday. The lowest temperature recorded yesterday in low-lying areas was 15.2°C in Keelung’s Cidu District (七堵) at 7:30am, bureau data showed. Localized showers are expected today in the north and east alongside a slight temperature rise, as the weather in northern Taiwan remains cool and wet, National Central University weather forecaster Daniel Wu (吳德榮) said. Tomorrow, cloudy and sunny skies should prevail throughout Taiwan, with temperatures rebounding significantly, he said. However, another wave of northeasterly winds is forecast for Sunday, bringing occasional showers to northern coastal areas and northeastern Taiwan and pushing the temperatures lower, he added. LABOR Employers to pay insurance About 150,000 live-in migrant caregivers in Taiwan must be covered by their employers for quarterly work-related injury insurance premiums, the Ministry of Labor said as it prepares to send out the latest premium payment notifications. Under the Labor Occupational Hazard Insurance and Protection Act (勞工職業災害保險及保護法), which took effect on May 1, migrant caregivers must be covered by occupational accident
Two girls converse without wearing masks on a street in New Taipei City yesterday as Taiwan relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, allowing people not to wear masks outdoors.
A woman poses against a backdrop in one of the many gallery scenes established throughout Taipei 101 as part of celebrations ahead of New Year’s Day yesterday.
From left, Techo Group chairman Theodore Huang, Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Representative Hiroyasu Izumi, and Vice Premier Shen Jong-chin pose for a photograph at a banquet marking the 50th anniversary of the association’s founding at the Okura Prestige Taipei yesterday.
‘IMMUNITY WANES’: The next wave of infections would likely have fewer cases than previous virus outbreaks, NTU College of Public Health professor Tony Chen said
Wearing masks and social distancing should still be recommended in four types of settings, as a COVID-19 wave caused by new Omicron subvariants of SARS-CoV-2 might occur in the middle of next month, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health professor Tony Chen (陳秀熙) said yesterday. Chen made the comment after the Central Epidemic Command Center announced that people would from today no longer need to wear a mask outside. He suggested that Taiwan implement a double-track method that focuses on select disease prevention measures, such as enhancing immune protection from infection and through vaccination, and self-disease prevention, while other restrictions should be lifted in phases. As immunity from vaccination wanes — especially as early vaccines did not target the Omicron variant, which emerged after they were developed — people should get inoculated with newer bivalent vaccines, he said. Chen said self-disease prevention guidelines seek to reduce reinfection and protect people who are vulnerable and might develop severe symptoms or die if they are infected. People should wear a mask and practice social distancing on public transportation, at public gatherings, large events and in healthcare facilities, as the spread of a new subvariant might lead to a large outbreak, he said. Masking, social distancing and other personal preventive measures are also recommended during holiday gatherings, especially if vulnerable family members are involved, he added. Lifting most restrictions would allow society to return to normal, Chen said, adding that people should not worry too much, as the local community has built up immunity. People should feel free to resume holiday celebrations, travel overseas and help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Chen said. However, he said new subvariants have been detected among local cases, and a new wave of infections might occur in the middle of next month, as year-end and New Year’s Eve events might contribute
A shipment of 796,000 doses of Moderna’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Taiwan yesterday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said, as it reported 17,668 new local COVID-19 cases, 59 imported cases and 37 deaths from the disease. The third shipment of the vaccine, which is adapted to the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of SARS-CoV-2, arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in the evening and has been transported to a designated refrigerated logistics center for lot release testing, the center said. The expiration date of the vaccines is May 10, the center said, adding that 5,113,100 doses of Moderna’s Omicron-adapted bivalent vaccines have arrived so far — 2,999,900 doses of a BA.1-adapted vaccine and 2,113,200 doses of the BA.4/BA.5-adapted vaccine. The number of new local cases reported yesterday was 1 percent lower than on Wednesday last week, the CECC said. It was the second consecutive day with a week-on-week decline rate of below 5 percent. A reporter at the center’s news briefing asked whether there was a backlog of cases due to people not getting tested ahead of Saturday’s local elections despite having symptoms so they could vote, inadvertently spreading the disease. Chuang said the CECC had expected the decline rate to fall due to several factors, including caseloads nearing a baseline as the wave of infections subsides. However, the CECC cannot rule out that people delayed getting tested so they could vote, Chuang said, adding that increased travel on election day might also have contributed to the trend. However, the number of new cases is usually highest on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said, adding that the CECC would continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation. Additional reporting by CNA
Two members of the Control Yuan yesterday said they would launch an investigation into a voting ban on eligible voters who had COVID-19 on election day. The measure was implemented by the Central Election Commission before Saturday’s nine-in-one local elections, barring people who were ordered to quarantine after testing positive for the virus or being a listed contact of a COVID-19 case from voting. Control Yuan members Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容) and Yeh Ta-hua (葉大華) said in a statement that the guidelines, published on Sept. 15, could have infringed on people’s voting rights. They said that the ban likely affected voter turnout and the result of a referendum on lowering the voting age to 18 from 20, which failed to pass as it did not receive the required number of “yes” votes, despite receiving more “yes” votes than “no” votes. The proposal received 5.64 million “yes” votes, well short of the threshold of 9.62 million required to pass. Chi and Yeh said they would investigate the decisionmaking process that led to the ban, whether the measure was unconstitutional and whether the commission could have introduced alternatives to ensure people’s right to vote, despite Taiwan not allowing mail-in voting. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Nov. 18 said that people who left isolation to vote risked a fine of NT$200,000 to NT$2 million (US$6,472 to US$64,721) or a prison term of up to two years, as stipulated in Article 13 of the Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例). The article defines the penalties for people with COVID-19 who fail to quarantine, but does not contain any language specific to voting. The CECC said that ballots cast by people with COVID-19 would be counted despite the ban. Before the election, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads
Subsidies for monthly passes for public transportation would not be available until 2024, but the Ministry of Transportation and Communications would next year include NT$200 million (US$6.47 million) for such plans in its budget for fiscal 2024, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) told a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday. Prior to the nine-in-one elections on Saturday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei mayoral candidate Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), New Taipei City mayoral candidate Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), Keelung mayoral candidate Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) and Taoyuan mayoral candidate Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) said they would expand the monthly pass for Taipei and New Taipei City to also include Keelung and Taoyuan, and lower its price to NT$1,200 from NT$1,280 per month. In addition to the MRT system serving metropolitan Taipei, public buses and YouBikes, monthly passes should also include unlimited travel on trains operated by the Taiwan Railways Administration and the Taoyuan Airport MRT, the four DPP candidates said. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) asked Wang if the monthly pass expansion would go ahead even though all four candidates lost in the elections. “Our preliminary plan is that local government officials in northern, central and southern Taiwan propose ways to increase the use of public transportation systems, and the cost might not necessarily be capped at NT$1,200,” Wang said. “If we approve their proposals next year, we will spend about NT$200 million to help them integrate different systems. The funds for monthly pass plans across the country will be included in budget plans for fiscal 2024,” he said. Wang said that the ministry would recalculate the funds needed to subsidize commuters. The four candidates had estimated that about NT$350 million would be needed to fund their monthly pass plan. Separately, Wang told reporters that Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport’s Terminal 1 would be used
NEW STATUS: The speed limit for ‘mini electric two-wheel vehicles’ is now 25kph, the revised Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act stipulates
Owners of electric bicycles would be required to register their bike, obtain a license plate and buy insurance before using public roads, as revisions to traffic rules covering the bikes took effect yesterday. The revisions to the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰) designate e-bikes as “mini electric two-wheel vehicles” that cannot be operated without a license plate. E-bike owners would have to formally register their vehicle and purchase at least three years of compulsory automobile liability insurance at a cost of at least NT$1,358 for a newly purchased bike. Previously bought vehicles can be operated with shorter insurance coverage. Bikes purchased within the past year, for instance, would require two years of coverage for at least NT$971. For e-bikes purchased before Nov. 1, owners would have a grace period of two years to register and buy insurance. There are about 200,000 e-bikes in Taiwan, and owners who fail to register them would be subject to fines of NT$1,200 to NT$3,600 and be barred from using them. The minimum age for riding an e-bike is 14. Riders must wear a helmet and the speed limit is 25kph. E-bike riders are also forbidden to carry passengers, make unauthorized modifications, or ride them on sidewalks or regular bike lanes, except in riverside parks. The new regulations came after an increase in the number of crashes involving e-bikes and concerns that they pose a heightened risk to minors, lawmakers have said. Experts have said that the new legal status for e-bikes would also clarify what owners would be eligible to if their bike is stolen and help the vehicles find a market niche. Ko Chun-pin (柯俊斌), chairman of the Taiwan Transportation Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association’s motorcycle manufacturing division, said the government might provide subsidies for e-bikes as part of its campaign to promote environmentally friendly vehicles. Taiwanese firms manufacture a combined 80,000
‘SEXUAL ASSAULT’: Taipei prosecutors said that cooperation agreements between Taiwan and the Czech Republic grant Czech officials protection against prosecution
The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday reaffirmed that it would not charge a Czech official with sexual assault because he is protected by diplomatic immunity. The office released a statement saying it has verified that the man works for the Czech Economic and Cultural Office Taipei’s foreign affairs corps and is thereby protected from criminal prosecution. A foreign graduate student in Taiwan had filed a complaint alleging that the section head of the Czech Economic and Trade Section had sexually assaulted her on April 21 last year. The woman said the Czech official had invited her to his home and then forced her to perform oral sex. Her lawyer said she was seeking criminal prosecution on charges of sexual offense against a person’s victim’s will. The Taipei prosecutors’ office issued a decision earlier this year, saying that as Taiwan and the Czech Republic have mutual agreements on cooperation that include granting diplomatic immunity and protection against criminal prosecution, the office cannot initiate criminal proceedings against the Czech official. The woman’s lawyer appealed the decision, saying that the sexual assault took place outside working hours and the incident was not related to the Czech official’s diplomatic duties, and is therefore not covered by diplomatic immunity. The lawyer said that Taiwan also has mutual agreements on cooperation with France — a member of the EU like the Czech Republic — and asked for verification of the scope of immunity from prosecution granted to foreign diplomats. Following the appeal, the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office referred the case back to Taipei prosecutors for re-examination. After consulting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Taipei prosecutors said that the agreements include adherence to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, under which immunity is granted to foreign diplomats, unless under special circumstances for certain diplomats to clearly state waiver from diplomatic immunity. Media reports said