Two guilty of vote-buying
The Taoyuan District Court yesterday sentenced Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井) to three years and six months in prison on vote-buying charges. Liao’s vote captain Liao Ching-fu (廖慶福) was sentenced to two years and six months in jail. The verdict is not final. Asked for comment, Liao Cheng-ching protested his innocence, adding that he would appeal. The court said Liao Ching-fu gave five residents of Weiwu Village in Kuanyin Township (觀音) NT$25,000 in total when he was running for legislator in December 2007 and asked another resident, Liao Wen-chen (廖文振), to help the legislator buy votes at the price of NT$5,000 per person, the court said. The court also annulled Liao’s election victory in the first trial of another civil suit on the same charges. He has appealed the verdict.
Gondola tower almost ready
The relocation of an unsafe tower on the Maokong Gondola system in Taipei City is expected to be completed in December, Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said yesterday. The gondola has been closed since Oct. 1 last year after support tower No. 16’s foundation and the hillside on which it sits were eroded by torrential rain brought by Typhoon Jangmei. In a policy report to the city council, Hau said the project began on June 26 and was scheduled to be completed by the end of December. Soil conservation measures are being adopted and a shaft is being built at the new site of the tower, Hau said. Meanwhile, the city government has since Dec. 16 been carrying out work to reinforce the slope where the tower was originally situated, he said. The work is set to be completed by Dec. 15 this year, he added.
■ FOREIGN AID
Hand offered to Guatemala
Taiwan will donate US$500,000 in relief aid to Guatemala, one of its allies in Latin America, to help alleviate a food shortage caused by drought, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The donation will be handed over to the Guatemalan government by the embassy there for humanitarian purposes, said Lin Cheng-hui (林正惠), deputy director-general of the ministry’s Bureau of Central and South American Affairs. Guatemala has had a prolonged dry spell this year, which has extended to November because of the El Nino effect. The drought has affected the harvest of staples like maize, red beans and rice, resulting in food shortages and an increase in food prices, Lin said. The price of food has risen above what most poor people in Guatemala can afford, he added.
Meat-free Mondays touted
A civic group that is urging people to refrain from eating meat every Monday to help reduce greenhouse gases has set up a Web site to promote its cause. The site, www.meatfree.org.tw, will serve as a platform for members of the group to exchange their experiences in not eating meat, said Hsu Jen-hsiu (徐仁修), one of the group’s leaders. Livestock emit large volumes of methane into the atmosphere, which contributes more to global warming than the emissions produced by all the vehicles around the world, Hsu said. Hsu said his group is recruiting individual, group and restaurant members. Group members should serve meat-free dishes in their cafeterias every Monday, while restaurant members should offer a menu where one-third of the dishes come without meat, Hsu said. Individual members will be encouraged to eat meat-free meals every Monday, he said.
Forum to open in Virginia
An annual conference on Taiwan-US strategic security cooperation will be held in Charlottesville, Virginia, from Sunday to Tuesday, organizers said. The eighth US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference will bring together senior officials and academics from the two countries to discuss security issues of mutual concern, organizers said. The US-Taiwan Business Council, which groups US companies with interests in Taiwan, has organized the event annually since 2002, when then-defense minister Tang Yiau-min (湯曜明) represented Taiwan at the first meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida. Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, said on Monday the agenda for this year’s meeting would focus on US-Taiwan defense cooperation and Taiwan’s future defense and security needs. The conference will discuss Taiwan’s military transformation and strategic changes, military modernization, integration and defense innovation, Hammond-Chambers said. Wallace Gregson, US assistant secretary of defense in charge of Asia-Pacific security affairs; David Shear, deputy US assistant secretary of state in charge of East Asian and Pacific affairs; and Deputy Defense Minister Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋) will deliver keynote speeches.
MOFA to invite Lugo
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will likely invite Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo to visit in the first half of next year, an official said yesterday. Lugo was unable to accept an invitation to visit this year because of his schedule, said Lin Cheng-hui (林正惠), deputy director-general of the MOFA’s Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs.
PILLAGING PENGHU: A 7,539-tonne Chinese ship found mining sand in the Formosa Banks area was escorted by several CGA ships to a Kaohsiung harbor The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday announced that it had dispatched ships to intercept Chinese dredging vessels operating in the nation’s territorial waters near Penghu and detained 10 crew members, who were transported to Kaohsiung. A coast guard patrol discovered more than 20 dredging vessels in an area known as the Formosa Banks, 46 nautical miles (85km) southwest of Penghu County’s Cimei islet (七美) at about 5am on Wednesday. The agency responded by dispatching two patrol boats, the 3,000-tonne Kaohsiung and the 500-tonne Penghu, along with two frigates, to intercept the Chinese vessels, while an airborne observation unit was used to monitor
‘HONEYMOON’ IS OVER: A political science professor said that the Tsai administration’s popularity peaked after it successfully contained COVID-19, but is waning President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) approval ratings fell significantly this month in the wake of the government’s handling of the distribution of relief funds and stimulus coupons to people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a poll released yesterday by the New Power Party (NPP) showed. The poll showed that 68 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Tsai’s performance, down 8.9 percentage points from last month, while 21 percent said they disapproved of her performance. Her approval among respondents aged 20 to 29 fell 14.7 percentage points, the largest decrease when compared with other age
CAUTION: The CECC would first observe how the nation fares after easing domestic restrictions and wait for the pandemic to further subside before making its next move The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that relaxing domestic restrictions and border controls simultaneously might complicate efforts to reopen the nation, amid discussions about Taiwan’s exclusion by other countries in their first lists of tourists. The center hopes for there to be a period of observation following the easing of domestic restrictions, before it decides what to do next, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a daily news briefing in Taipei. Chen was responding to a question about the reasoning behind the central government’s decision not to allow foreign students into the
Taiwan respects other countries’ decisions not to include it in their first lists of tourists allowed entry when they reopen their borders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday reported that the Japanese government was considering reopening the country to tourists from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand first. Greece on Friday announced that from June 15, it would allow visitors from 29 countries, including Australia, China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and Germany. Japan has not yet finalized its visitor list, but the ministry has conveyed its hope that Tokyo would