■ Weather \nMercury to plummet \nThe mercury is expected to drop sharply in the next few days with the approach of a cold front from China, the Central Weather Bureau reported yesterday. The cold front arrived over northern Taiwan late yesterday. Temperatures in coastal areas north of Chiayi County and on Kinmen and Matsu are expected to plummet to 8?C between tomorrow and Thursday, the bureau said. It called for the farming and fishery sectors to be on guard against frost damage. It also called for fishing boats operating to the north and northeast of Taiwan, as well as those in the Taiwan Strait, to be on the alert for strong winds and high tides as the strong northeast monsoon is sweeping in. \n■ Travel \nBeijing flight a hot ticket \nTickets for the Beijing-Taipei Lunar New Year charter flight scheduled for this Saturday proved to be best-sellers. All tickets for the 125-seat charter flight scheduled to depart Beijing for CKS International Airport have been booked, according to Chen Kuo-yuan (陳國原), secretary-general of the Taiwan Business Association in Beijing. There will be three more flights until Feb 20 for the convenience of Beijing-based Taiwanese businesspeople and their relatives during the Lunar New Year period, Chen said. Demand has been higher than expected, Chen said. Seven charter flights operated by six Chinese carriers arrived in Taiwan from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou on Saturday, the first day of the charter services, carrying about 1,700 Taiwanese home for the holidays. \n■ Politics \nLien willing to visit HK \nChinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) has said he would be glad to visit Hong Kong at the invitation of academic institutions, a Hong Kong-based Taiwanese business executive said yesterday. Chen Zi-chuang (陳自創), managing director of the Taiwan Industrial and Business Association in Hong Kong, said he had conveyed a university's invitation to Lien during a recent visit to Taipei. Lien said that if he can obtain a visa this year, he will accept the invitation to deliver a speech, according to Chen. Lien was last in Hong Kong on Oct. 11, 2003, but only for a transit stay of a few hours. \n■ Politics \nKaohsiung deputy named \nActing Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said yesterday that he has invited Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文隆), vice chairman of the Public Construction Commission, to serve as his deputy. Chen said he had decided to name Cheng as his deputy because Cheng is an engineering expert. "I need his assistance to oversee construction of the city's mass rapid transit system and a number of sporting facilities for the 2009 World Games to be held in Kaohsiung," Chen said. He said that Cheng had agreed to join his team. \n■ Cross-strait Ties \nRussians praise charters \nAn influential private radio station in Russia said several times on Saturday that the launch of direct cross-strait charter flights for the Lunar New Year holiday is an important matter of "the two countries" across the Taiwan Strait. According to the Echo Radio Station in Moscow, Taiwan has been a sovereign and independent state since former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) fled to Taiwan from China in 1949. The reports ran counter to the Kremlin's policy, which recognizes Beijing as the sole ruler of China and does not recognize Taiwan.
FATAL FIRE: The health department is trying to contact the inspector who visited the site of the illegal nursing home to ask why they did not advise follow-up checks The Taipei City Government yesterday said that a health department inspector last year had visited the site of a long-term care facility in Neihu District (內湖) after receiving a report questioning its status. A fire broke out at the facility on Tuesday afternoon, killing three people. The Taipei Fire Department said that it received a report about a fire on the first floor of a four-story residential building on Kangning Road Sec. 1 at 2:38pm on Tuesday, firefighters arrived at 2:43pm and the fire was put out by 3:07pm. The firefighters found three men in beds and rushed them to hospital for
THE CHINA CONNECTION: As Beijing’s aggression increases, so does Taiwanese consciousness, making a new constitution imperative, Hsu Wei-chun said If the nation is to ratify a new constitution, it must first end any illusions about the current document’s relevance to Taiwan, an academic told a forum in Taipei yesterday. For the constitutional revisionist movement to succeed, it needs public enthusiasm, the right timing and a clear plan of action, Chung Yuan Christian University associate professor Hsu Wei-chun (徐偉群) told attendees at the event titled “Imagining a New Constitution for a New Era,” which was organized by the National Taiwan University Graduate Student Association. The Constitution exists under the “one China” framework and has little relevance to Taiwan, Hsu said, adding that
Yuchi Township (魚池) fishers have appealed to the Nantou County Government for help in dealing with an invasive fish species in Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where it has devastated the local ecosystem. Fishers at Sun Moon Lake have been using electrofishing in an attempt to eliminate the giant snakehead fish — found in Africa and Southeast Asia — but they have struggled to keep up with the growing population of the species, which breeds during September and October, the county government said on Monday. The county has contacted researchers at National Tsing Hua University, saying it hoped they could come up
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday urged Beijing to respect the median line of the Taiwan Strait by immediately stopping its military intimidation of Taiwan, as such actions would only hurt the feelings of Taiwanese. Beijing should immediately stop making military provocations against Taiwan, Ma wrote on Facebook after Chinese warplanes in the past week have made numerous forays across the median line that divides the Taiwan Strait. Although it has never officially acknowledged the median line, Beijing used to respect it, Ma said in response to comments on Monday by Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌), who said