Taiwan Statebuilding Party and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers have jointly proposed a draft amendment to prevent Chinese or other malign forces from infiltrating companies in the national defense industry. The proposed amendment would add two clauses to articles 4 and 21 of the National Defense Industry Development Act (國防產業發展條例) which was passed in June last year. The act places restrictions on defense manufacturers to safeguard national security, but has failed to address regulations regarding company ownerships, Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) said. This leaves a loophole for foreign forces with hostile intent, or other agents, to infiltrate the industry under the guise of foreign investment, he said. Together with DPP legislators Chao Tian-lin (趙天麟) and Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應), Chen proposed amendments that would allow the Ministry of National Defense to list defense manufacturers as “important national security industries,” conduct background checks on major shareholders and control ownership. The draft would require companies deemed vital to national security to report voting share transactions of entities owning a stake of 5 percent or more to the Ministry of Finance. Investors wishing to make share purchases that exceed the threshold would need to seek approval from the finance ministry, the draft stipulates. Companies which fail to report such stock transactions could be fined NT$2 million to NT$50 million (US$69,163 to US$1.73 million), it adds. The Investment Commission would have the authority to order entities disapproved on national security grounds to dispose their stake and fines those failing to comply NT$2 million to NT$50 million, it adds The proposed amendment is undergoing review at the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and national Defense Committee. The draft amendment would be the first of many amendments if Taiwan wishes to prevent China from infiltrating the nation through its economy and conduct corporate espionage, Chen said.
More than 77 percent of Taiwanese say they are willing to fight for the nation in the event of an invasion by China, a survey released yesterday showed. The Taiwan Center for International Strategic Studies and the Taiwan International Studies Association at a news conference in Taipei publicized the results of the poll conducted on Wednesday and Thursday. Asked about their willingness to defend national security, 66 percent of respondents said that they would fight for Taiwan if a cross-strait war breaks out in the wake of Taiwan declaring independence, while 26.1 percent said they would not, the survey showed. When facing an invasion by China, the ratio of people willing to fight for the nation rose to 77.6 percent, and that of opponents fell to 15.9 percent, it showed. Asked if they would work with the US to combat China, given that Washington has increased arms sale to Taiwan, 58.7 percent said “yes,” while 24.6 percent said “no,” the poll showed. In the event that a war breaks out across the Taiwan Strait, 55.1 percent of respondents said they expected the US to send armed forces to assist Taiwan, while 32.8 percent said the US would not, it showed. The survey, conducted by Focus Survey Research, targeted respondents aged 20 or older, including those on the nation’s outlying islands. It collected 1,076 valid samples, including 536 through landline telephones and 540 through mobile phones, with a margin of error of 2.99 percentage points.
SYMBOLIC CHANGE: The draft amendments would alter swearing-in protocols and apply to the offices of the president, vice president and other elected representatives
Three amendments proposed by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers, which would abolish government tributes to Republic of China (ROC) founder Sun Yat-sen (孫中山), on Friday passed their first reading at the Legislative Yuan, where they are expected to spark controversy among Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers, who have proposed their own amendments. The DPP amendments to the Presidential and Vice Presidential Oath Act (總統副總統宣誓條例), the Oath Act (宣誓條例) and the National Emblem and National Flag Act (國徽國旗法) are intended to stop the practice of the president, other elected representatives and other officials being sworn into office in front of Sun’s image. As well, the amendments would no longer require government agencies and schools to have Sun’s image displayed. Proposed by DPP Legislator Fan Yun (范雲) and other DPP lawmakers, the amendments were introduced after other versions were rejected last month over KMT objections and returned to the legislature’s Procedure Committee. Fan resent the proposals and they were tackled at the legislature’s plenary session on Friday. Despite persistent objections from KMT lawmakers, the three proposed amendments passed their first reading, pending reviews at the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee. Thirty-one KMT lawmakers, led by party Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), also proposed amendments to the two oath acts, although in a diametrically opposed spirit. Their proposals would revise the content of oaths of office taken by the vice president, other elected representatives and other officials by adding references to “the ROC” and “the ROC Constitution,” rather than just “the nation” and “the Constitution.” The presidential oath of office is defined by Article 48 of the Constitution, so is not targeted by the party’s proposals. The “ROC” is Taiwan’s formal name until a constitutional amendment is passed to change the nation’s name, KMT lawmakers wrote in the proposals. Highlighting references to the ROC is intended to consolidate the status of the
The National Academy of Civil Service is next month to include English as part of the mandatory training for civil servants, with an estimated 10,000 people expected to receive lessons each year. Hao Pei-chih (郝培芝), head of the Civil Service Protection and Training Commission, who also heads the academy, on Thursday said that to comply with the government’s bilingual education policy, the academy has created English-related training programs to prepare civil servants. The training programs include an all-English course focused on globalization livestreamed on the academy’s Facebook page every Thursday evening, as well as weekend workshops on topics such as giving presentations, hosting foreign guests, attending meetings and writing letters, Hao said. There would also be opportunities for medium to high-level officials and high-potential talent to participate in overseas workshops or internships, Hao added. Starting from Nov. 30th, additional changes would be made to meet the government’s goal of making Taiwan a bilingual nation by 2030, such as incorporating English into each link of the civil servant training program and introducing immersive situational exercises based on business tasks, she said. The academy would also collaborate with other agencies on a series of online courses, which would include English-language news, daily English practice related to government tasks and lectures hosted by professional native English-speaking teachers, she said. Examination Yuan President Huang Jung-tsun (黃榮村) said that improving civil servants’ English proficiency is a must in national development, and also a priority when the branch devises polices. For someone to improve their English proficiency takes time, and education institutions should use the limited available training hours to teach students how to utilize a wide range of resources for self-learning, Huang said, adding that reading English-language newspapers and taking advantage of learning tools, such as apps, are helpful. The Examination Yuan is responsible for administering national civil servant exams and appointing, training
The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) on Friday urged the Hong Kong government to “respond pragmatically” to its call for mutual legal assistance with regards to a murder case in Taiwan more than two years ago involving two Hong Kongers. The council made the remarks a day after the mother of Amber Poon (潘曉穎), the victim, said that she wanted to mediate between Hong Kong and Taiwan to break the impasse over the surrender of the murder suspect, Chan Tong-kai (陳同佳), to Taiwanese authorities. The mother had set Friday as the deadline for Chan’s surrender in exchange for her mitigation efforts. Chan is suspected of killing Poon in February 2018 when they were visiting Taiwan as tourists. He returned to Hong Kong before Poon’s body was found near a riverside walking path in New Taipei City and has since served a 29-month sentence in Hong Kong for stealing money from Poon’s bank account. The Hong Kong authorities said that they cannot bring murder charges because the key evidence is in Taiwan. Chan was released on Oct. 23 last year, but was immediately taken to a secret location by Hong Kong authorities. Chan has repeatedly expressed his desire to stand trial in Taiwan, but the Taiwan representative office in Hong Kong denied his visa application, as he had planned to turn himself in to the nation’s authorities. Taiwan and Hong Kong have been blaming each other for the deadlock. Taiwan wants to reach a mutual legal assistance agreement. Hong Kong refuses to reach such an agreement, citing a lack of legal basis. Last year, Hong Kong tried to introduce an extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China, Taiwan or Macau, but it triggered massive opposition, as people feared that Hong
HOSPITALIZED: The CECC said a Filipina was placed in a second quarantine by her broker and only tested positive there — making it a 22-day incubation period
Taiwan yesterday confirmed two new imported cases of COVID-19, bringing the nation’s total to 550, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. One new patient is a Filipina in her 20s who tested negative in the Philippines three days before arriving in Taiwan on Sept. 30 for work, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), the CECC’s spokesperson, told a news briefing in Taipei. She had no symptoms upon arrival or while under quarantine, and tested negative at the end of her 14-day quarantine on Oct. 13, Chuang said. People entering Taiwan from the Philippines with no symptoms no longer need to be tested upon their arrival, but they must be tested at the end of their 14-day quarantine. Her employment agency placed her in another quarantine facility where she took another test on Thursday, with the results returning positive yesterday, Chuang said, adding that the woman was hospitalized. The woman had her own room at the second facility, Chuang said. Asked why she was retested if she had no symptoms, Chuang said that her workplace required it. The case was classified as imported, despite there being a 22-day incubation period if imported, as she was not in contact with people in Taiwan while under quarantine. Twelve people were identified to have come in contact with the woman, including six coworkers who were there when she was tested and have been instructed to self-isolate. Three other coworkers and three drivers were wearing masks when they had contact with her, so they have been asked to self-manage their health, the center said. The other patient is a Taiwanese man in his 30s who returned to Taiwan on Sunday last week after spending two weeks in the US, Chuang said, adding that while under quarantine, the man developed symptoms on Wednesday, tested positive and was hospitalized. The man was in
A series of illustrations commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showing various diseases as anime characters has caught on in the US after being uploaded on the meme sharing app 9GAG. The series, launched in 2018 to build public health awareness among those aged 35 or younger, has so far introduced illustrations for 26 diseases, including COVID-19, which was part of last week’s issue. Each reimagined illness appears on the cover of the magazine Disease, with their appearance, outfit, accessories and even the background art representing aspects of the disease, while the cover blurbs offer tips on how to stay healthy. After capturing the interest of Internet users in Japan last year, the illustrations caught on in the US this week after a user uploaded them to 9GAG, which shared them on its Facebook page under a caption that read: “Why are they so attractive?” In response, Chiyou (蚩尤), the artist behind illustrations for COVID-19, Ebola and the plague, said that taking diseases out of a textbook and giving them a human form makes them more approachable and easier to understand. For the COVID-19 illustration — which was the “most difficult to create” — Chiyou thought of the “mysterious and unpredictable” disease as a computer hacker, which he described as “always changing, possessing many faces and able to spread from country to country the moment people let their guard down.” The structure of the virus also informed the illustration, he said, adding that its spherical shape is represented in the model’s chair, while the spike proteins on the virus’ surface appear as outward-reaching metal arms. Say HANa (林花), who spent a month creating the illustrations for syphilis and rubella, said that her greatest challenge was reconciling the diseases’ sometimes gruesome symptoms with their “cute” personifications. She said that the origin story of syphilis — a sexually
DOGGED BY TRAUMA: Abuse can physically alter a person’s nervous, cardiovascular, reproductive and immune systems, and their ability to learn, doctor Sophie Liang said
At least half of children and adolescents under state guardianship develop a lifelong mental illness, such as depression or attention deficit disorder (ADD), research from Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital found. The hospital at a news conference on Thursday announced the results of a study conducted by its Child Protection Center, which tracked the mental health of 97 children in four foster care residential institutions in the Taoyuan area from July 2011 to January 2014. Nearly 3,000 children last year became wards of the state, many carrying emotional trauma from past situations, researchers said. According to their findings, 54.6 percent of the children had some sort of lifetime psychiatric affliction, nearly two times higher than the 31.6 percent prevalence rate among all Taiwanese children. Conduct disorder was the most common type at 22.7 percent, followed by ADD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with 15.5 percent and oppositional defiant disorder at 13.4 percent, researchers said. Nearly 10.3 percent of participants had depression, while 4.1 percent had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they added. Compared with other children, ADD or ADHD is 1.5 times more prevalent among those in foster care institutions, depression is 6.7 times more prevalent and PTSD is 41 times more prevalent, they said. The six-month prevalence rate among foster children was also slightly higher at 28.9 percent, compared with 25 percent in the overall population, research showed. About 10 percent of the subjects reported feeling depressed, with up to 17 percent of those aged eight to 12 expressing depressive thoughts, researchers said. Abuse can physically alter a person’s nervous, cardiovascular, reproductive and immune systems, as well as their ability to learn, said Sophie Liang (梁歆宜), an attending physician in the hospital’s child and adolescent psychiatry unit. Many abused children and adolescents have difficulty focusing and controlling their actions, and can become impulsive, irritable and restless, she said. Mistreatment or
Despite their reputation as a clean and healthy alternative to deep fryers, air fryers can pose a major risk to indoor air quality if used without proper ventilation, a study has shown. The study, released on Thursday by the Wang Jhan-Yang Social Welfare Foundation and the Taiwan Society of Indoor Environmental Air Quality, measured the level of particulate pollution caused by cooking high-fat foods such as sausages in a closed studio apartment. Without any ventilation, air frying a sausage caused overall pollution from fine particulate matter to spike up to 1,525 times higher than normal, the study showed. Even when a kitchen range hood was employed, air frying caused pollution levels 13.15 times higher than those produced by cooking a sausage in a frying pan, the research showed. Chang Jung Christian University occupational health and safety professor Chang Cheng-ping (張振平) said that air fryers work by circulating air at high temperatures. This produces crispier and comparatively healthier food, but also poses pollution risks when the oils in high-fat foods start circulating in the machine, he said. Air fryers produce fine particulate matter smaller than 0.3 micrometers, while those produced by oil-based cooking methods are smaller than 0.5 micrometers, he said. Research has shown that particulates with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less can penetrate the deepest parts of the lungs, including the alveoli — the tiny air sacs that allow oxygen to enter the blood stream — posing a range of potential health risks, he said. People can mitigate these risks by ensuring that their kitchens have adequate ventilation, he said. When using air fryers that lack proper ventilation, people should consider using them outside, such as on a balcony or near a window, Chang added.
A pack of 30 Taiwanese macaques overran a school in Yunlin County’s Linnei Township (林內) for about 30 minutes on Wednesday morning, destroying one surveillance camera as they tried to steal students’ breakfasts. Macaque invasions have been happening for about a year, Yuanming Junior High School principal Ting Ching-feng (丁清?) said, adding that Wednesday’s incident had the largest group so far. “Normally we only see groups of about 10 who try to slip into the school kitchen to steal some food,” Ting said. The macaques wandered into the school, showing no fear of humans, and tried to grab the students’ breakfasts right out of their hands, Ting said. They caroused around the school for about 30 minutes before the school faculty succeeded in chasing them away, although several macaques were seen loitering outside the school walls, Ting said. Upon hearing of the incident, Yunlin County Councilor Chiu Shih-wen (邱世文) informed the Yunlin County Department of Agriculture, asking that the situation be resolved. The school is near the Longguomai Path (龍過脈), so it is likely that the monkeys are visiting due to a food shortage in the mountains or because there are fewer tourists feeding them, Forestry Conservation Division Director Chang Wen-tung (張文東) said. “We will continue to put up signs warning tourists not to feed macaques and will use public funds to purchase paintball guns so that the school can scare them off,” he said. Yunlin County Department of Education Deputy Director Lin Hui-jung (林慧蓉) said the bureau would provide assistance to the school after it received the Department of Agriculture’s assessment. Taiwanese macaques were on the conservation list from 1989 to 2019. Even though they are no longer on the list, the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法) prohibits hunting or trapping them. Breaches of the act carry a fine of NT$60,000 to NT$300,000.
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) yesterday took delivery of two of 52 commuter trains ordered from South Korea, calling them the “most beautiful local trains” it has ever had. The EMU900 trains, painted silver and green, feature a streamlined body with soft curves, while their interiors have been carefully designed to meet commuters’ needs, TRA Director-General Chang Chen-yuan (張政源) said. With 10 carriages, the EMU900 has 436 seats and room for 1,323 standing passengers, a 40 percent increase in passenger capacity, compared with the currently used EMU700 and EMU800 models, Chang said. The new trains are expected to provide better service for commuters, who account for 80 percent of the TRA’s passengers, Chang said at a ceremony at the Port of Hualien, where the trains were delivered. They are to be tested before next year’s Lunar New Year holiday, and then put into service between Taipei and Hsinchu, the agency said. Delivery of the 52 trains — which are being built by Hyundai Rotem and cost the TRA a total of NT$25.3 billion (US$874.92 million) — is to be completed by 2023. Ten more are to be delivered next year, another 12 are to arrive in 2022 and the last 28 are to be delivered in 2023, Chang said. The EMU900 offers passengers increased accessibility, he said, adding that the model doubles the number of wheelchair seats to eight per carriage, offers specially designed seats for pregnant women and provides space for bicycle riders to store their bikes, he said. The model has been criticized for only having three restrooms, compared with the four on existing models, but the agency said that space is optimized to cater to short-haul passenger demand. To celebrate the occasion, the TRA ran its 79-year-old DT668 locomotive to the ceremony, gaining the attention of railroad fans. Chang Yi-fan (張貽帆), head of a student railway club
The chairman of one of the nation’s largest tea shop chains yesterday said that he was the victim of the company’s cup supplier after he was indicted on fraud and tax evasion charges. Kaohsiung prosecutors on Friday indicted Ching Shin Fu Chuan (清心福全公司) chairman Chao Chi-hung (趙啟宏), along with five other executives from the Tainan-based company and Kaohsiung-based Telung Polylon Industry (大隆保利龍公司), which supplies the chain’s cups. Prosecutors said that Chao and others allegedly colluded with Telung Polylon’s owner, a man surnamed Chuang (莊), to forge receipts and company records over the past four years to avoid paying NT$355.55 million (US$12.3 million) in container recycling, clearance and disposal fees, as mandated by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) under the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法). Workers and independent franchise owners of Ching Shin Fu Chuan, which has 946 tea shops under its banner in Taiwan, also allegedly fabricated receipts and records to avoid paying NT$47.64 million in taxes during the same period, in breach of the Tax Collection Act (稅捐稽徵法), prosecutors said. Instead of using cups made from pulp and paper materials, Ching Shin Fu Chuan used cups made from nonbiodegradable expanded polystyrene (EPS) and polypropylene, as these materials have better insulation properties, prosecutors said. However, these materials require extra handling in disposal, and the EPA imposes higher fees on companies for their use: NT$37.29 per kilogram at the time for EPS — which has since increased to NT$69.83 per kilogram — and NT$7 per kilogram for polypropylene in 2018. Prosecutors said that Chao allegedly colluded with Chuang to forge accounting records to reduce the EPA-imposed fees and report lower earnings to reduce taxes. Starting in 2015, the companies had reported to the EPA less than 20 percent of the total EPS and polypropylene cups supplied by Telung Polylon, prosecutors said.
RACTOPAMINE: Opposition proposals calling for more research into the risks of consuming pork containing the additive did not make it to the legislative agenda
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-controlled legislature yesterday blocked eight of the 11 proposals put forth by opposition parties to prevent or control imports of pork containing ractopamine residues from being placed on the legislative agenda. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus presented four proposals, including a call to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to attend a legislative question-and-answer session and to issue a public apology for easing the ban on meat containing the leanness-enhancing additive effective Jan. 1. It also proposed that meat containing ractopamine or additives that enhance leanness be banned from daycare centers and kindergartens up to middle schools, and that the government submit proposed regulatory changes detailing penalties or fines for offenders and other measures within one month. It further proposed that the government should commission another research report assessing the safety or risks of consuming meat with ractopamine, and continue to ban the imports of such meat until the report is completed. All of the KMT’s proposals, except for the research report, were placed on the legislative agenda. The Taiwan People’s Party also called for another risk assessment, to be conducted by the Executive Yuan, on Taiwanese consumption habits to serve as the base for establishing safety standards on permissible limits on residues of ractopamine and other leanness-enhancing additives for pork. It also proposed that such pork imports should have their own commodity classification code. The TPP also petitioned that a video recording of a closed-door meeting by the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee with food safety experts and the Ministry of Health and Welfare be made available. Meanwhile, the New Power Party (NPP) proposed that the Ministry of Health and Welfare should forward its risk assessment reports to the ministry’s Food Safety Risk Assessment Advisory Committee to determine whether the conclusions are based on scientific facts. Preventive measures should be mulled,
The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed a special budget of NT$209.95 billion (US$7.26 billion) largely to continue economic relief measures to ease the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy. Of the approved budget, which is to be financed through the issuance of debt, NT$172 billion would go to economic stimulus and support programs. A total of NT$137.54 billion of the new funding would be allocated to the Ministry of Economic Affairs to ease a shortfall in providing loan subsidies and assistance to enterprises hit hard by the pandemic and cover gaps in funding for a consumer voucher program. The Ministry of Health and Welfare is to receive NT$37.36 billion for its social welfare programs, including disease prevention, while other ministries are to get funding for their relief subsidy programs. It is the second time this year since the outbreak of COVID-19 that the government has expanded funding for affected businesses and industries and for epidemic control and prevention measures. In February, the Cabinet introduced the Special Act on COVID-19 Prevention, Relief and Recovery (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例) to cope with the impact of the outbreak on people’s health and economic activity. That was backed by a NT$60 billion special budget for relief and stimulus measures after the legislature passed the new act on Feb. 25. As the pandemic spread and dealt a severe blow to the global economy, the legislature in April passed an amendment to the special act to allow the government to earmark a special budget of up to NT$210 billion for relief and stimulus funding, with the option to double that if necessary. On April 23, the Cabinet presented a debt-financed NT$150 billion budget to increase the special relief fund to NT$210 billion, based on the revised act. It was passed by the legislature on May 8.
RETROCESSION: Johnny Chiang urged Beijing to cease its verbal or military threats, and said that the ROC’s continued existence is the key to countering independence
The two sides of the Taiwan Strait share the same roots in Chinese culture and have no reason for confrontation, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said yesterday, but added that they would be driven further apart if one side continued to play the aggressor. Chiang made the remarks at a meeting with Taiwanese expats in Taipei, part of the party’s series of activities marking the 75th anniversary of Taiwan’s Retrocession Day tomorrow. Yesterday’s commemoration was attended by KMT members, as well as nearly 80 Taiwanese expats returning from the US and Southeast Asian countries. In his speech, Chiang said that Oct. 25 was a critical turning point for all Chinese, who in 1945 finally overcame the national disgrace that started with the Opium War in the 1840s, and witnessed the nation’s regeneration. Taiwanese expats have been the strongest support for the Republic of China (ROC) throughout the years, and have personally taken part in the national revival, he said. He thanked them for lending their robust support to the ROC during the war with Japan from 1937 to 1945, which mainly took place on the Chinese mainland. They also played an important role in assisting with the nation’s economic development after the ROC government relocated to Taiwan in 1949, while their investments proved instrumental in fostering the nation’s economic growth, he said. Taiwan’s liberation from Japanese colonization and return to the ROC’s embrace was the hope of most Taiwanese, a history that embodies the inseparable cord connecting the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, Chiang said. Despite having different political systems, the two sides are nourished by the same Chinese culture and share the same language, Mandarin, he said. There is no reason for the two sides of the Strait to confront or hate each other, as their fates are interconnected, he added. Having gone through stratocracy,
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday launched the Republic of China-Switzerland Inter-Parliamentary Amity Association at an event at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. The association would promote bilateral trade and bolster cooperation between the two nations through cultural, academic, scientific and other exchanges, said Legislator Chang Yu-mei (張育美), who heads the association. “Taiwan and Switzerland have many similarities: Both have hard-working people who have created a democratic society, and both have many world-famous industries,” Chang said. Switzerland is known for its banking and financial sector, luxury watches, precision machinery, pharmaceuticals, biomedical advances and food industry, she said. Trade Office of Swiss Industries Director Reto Renggli had other commitments and was not able to attend the event, but he visited the legislature on Thursday and fully supports the initiative, Chang said, adding that he discussed ways to promote bilateral trade and cultural exchanges. Members of the Suisse-Taiwan Friendship Group, including Swiss national councilors Roland Buchel, Andreas Glarner and Fabian Molina sent video greetings and messages of support. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tien Chung-kwang (田中光) said that Taiwan and Switzerland are democratic countries that “are small and beautiful, and have many shared values while holding substantial soft power.” “Both have good development and innovation in precision machinery, computer systems and other high-end technologies, so it is a natural partnership between our two countries,” Tien said. Ministry of Economic Affairs data showed that 348 Swiss firms had invested a combined US$953 million in Taiwan as of the first half of last year, the fifth-largest amount among European nations and 16th worldwide. Twenty-five Taiwanese firms invested a combined US$157 million in Switzerland last year, including Evergreen, Asustek, Acer, Delta Electronics, and those in the precision machinery, machine tool and biomedical sectors.
A proposed arms package sale approved by the US Department of State on Wednesday would help Taiwan improve its long-range counterstrike capability in the event of an attack, security analysts said on Thursday. If approved by the US Congress, the package — which has 135 AGM-84H SLAM-ER, 11 HIMARS M142 launchers and six MS-110 Recce Pods — would also represent a milestone in US-Taiwan military cooperation, the analysts said. “To date, the US has only sold passive defense systems to Taiwan, but this time, the package includes air-to-ground long-range weapons,” said Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), an associate research fellow at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research. Previously, such weapons could not be sold to Taiwan as they defined as defensive arms, he said, citing as an example the SLAM-ER, or standoff land- attack missile expanded-response, which is a precision-guided air-launched cruise missile with an operational range of 270km. The HIMARS, or high-mobility artillery rocket system, which is difficult for enemy forces to locate because of its mobility, has the capability to launch a second strike and is viewed as a key deterrent to any enemy attack, Su said. Wednesday’s announcement was made by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which said that it had officially notified Congress that the state department had approved a US$1.81 billion package of three weapons systems. The proposal requires the approval of Congress before the US can proceed with the sale. National Policy Foundation research fellow Chieh Chung (揭仲) said that the new weapons systems would increase Taiwan’s firepower at enemy debarking areas. While the arms deal signals closer Taiwan-US military cooperation, it is also indicative of US efforts to implement its Indo-Pacific strategy, he said. “The US wants to quell China’s military expansion,” he said. “One of the ways of achieving that without burdening itself is to help countries adjacent to China
SINFONG SAGA: Hua Sheng Engineering Construction and TRA personnel posted bail amid an investigation into alleged collusion over a public tender in Hsinchu County
Four people were released on bail yesterday amid a probe into alleged corruption over a NT$110 million (US$3.8 million) contract for work at a Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) station in Hsinchu County. Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office officials said that 15 locations in Taipei, Hsinchu and Taoyuan were searched on Thursday and 15 people have been questioned in connection with the case. The investigation was launched into the tender process for a contract to the reconstruction of the station in Sinfong Township (新豐), which was awarded to Kaohsiung-based Hua Sheng Engineering Construction Co. Hua Sheng owner Su Cheng-ta (蘇成達), TRA Department of Electrical Engineering head Chou Tsu-te (周祖德), TRA Taipei maintenance section chief Lin Chao-cheng (林昭正) and TRA project inspector Lu Hsing-hung (盧星宏) face charges of forgery and other breaches of the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例), prosecutors said. The four men were released after posting bail of NT$300,000 each. The three TRA officials are accused of colluding with Su to falsify budget documents after the project was awarded to Taoyuan-based Kuo Kung Construction Co for NT$110 million. Work began in April 2008 to reconstruct parts of the railway station and add new facilities, prosecutors said. Chou and Lin colluded to hand the project over to Hua Sheng, citing delays and other issues that resulted in the agreement with Kuo Kung being terminated in October 2008, prosecutors said. The two men reopened the public tender, which was won by Hua Sheng at a reduced bid of NT$100 million, prosecutors said. Chou and Lin allegedly colluded with Lu to produce falsified records, which led to Hua Sheng securing the contract, prosecutors said, adding that the case involves about NT$5 million in illegal profit. Kuo Kung was riled by the termination of its work agreement and filed a lawsuit against the TRA to secure a refund and compensation on top. The High Court ruled in the
DANGEROUS AREA: People should leave Shou Island, a sandbar, two hours before high tide, as it sometimes submerges completely, a local said
Visitors to Chiayi County’s Baishuei Lake (白水湖) and Shou Island (壽島) must pay careful attention to tidal charts to avoid being trapped by rising water, locals said yesterday. The area in Dongshi Township (東石) has become popular after My Missing Valentins (消失的情人節), a local comedy, was released in cinemas on Sept. 28. The film features scenes shot in the area, while a squat toilet — which was left out in the open embedded in a concrete slab on the water’s edge after a lodge was torn down due to land subsidence — has become a spot from where people watch the sunset. However, Shou Island — a sandbar that along with narrow roads and sea walls help define Baishuei Lake, which is otherwise part of the sea — is inundated as early as two hours prior to high ride, fishers familiar with the area said. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) said that following complaints by visitors to the area, he would invite transportation, tourism and water resource agencies to conduct a survey next week. He said that signs should be put up to notify people of tide times. Discussions about whether pavilions and mobile restrooms would also enhance the tourism experience would also be conducted, Tsai said. People have dubbed the area “Moses Parts the Sea” (摩西分海), as roads there have been affected by land subsidence and are often drowned by high tides, which sometimes reach halfway up dilapidated houses on the shoreline. On Wednesday, high tide was at about 2pm, with the sandbar divided into two by the water, the local fishers said. Sometimes the tide leaves no sand visible at all, the fishers added. As tide times vary from day to day, people should seek accurate data before making a trip to the area, said a fisher, who declined to be named. People should depart the sandbar
The sudden onset of visual hallucinations following a change in habits might be indicative of an alcohol addiction, a Hualien physician said, after treating a man in his 50s diagnosed with the condition. The man, surnamed Huang (黃), went to Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital after experiencing hallucinations while recovering from the flu, psychiatrist Shen Yu-chih (沈裕智) said. After speaking with Huang and running various tests, doctors determined that Huang had experienced the effects of alcohol withdrawal, which had manifested as hallucinations when he stopped drinking while taking flu medication. Huang often used rice wine in his cooking and over time had started drinking wine with his meals, eventually leading to an addiction, Shen said. Huang’s family were concerned that he had a mental illness when he began having hallucinations, but mental illnesses generally do not develop so rapidly, Shen said, adding that most people with mental conditions who hallucinate have auditory hallucinations, rather than experiencing changes of vision. Alcohol acts as a depressant in the central nervous system and might slow the brain’s communication with the rest of the body, Shen said, adding that if people who habitually drink alcohol suddenly stop, their nervous system might experience a rebound effect. “Basically, there are withdrawal symptoms. The whole brain becomes excited with activity and there is the possibility of hallucinations,” Shen said. Modern treatments for addiction can include psychotherapy and medication, he said. Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital uses three types of medication for alcoholism, including one that neutralizes the effects of alcohol so that it has as much as an effect on the patient as water, Shen said. The second type makes the patient feel nauseated at the scent of alcohol, while the third neutralizes alcohol’s effects on the central ner-vous system, he added. However, medication can only be part of an overall treatment program for addiction patients, Shen said. People with