Legislature passes budget
The Legislative Yuan on Friday approved this year’s government budget, reduced by about NT$25.6 billion (US$901 million), or 1.18 percent, compared with last year. Under the Executive Yuan’s original budget proposal, the government planned to spend NT$2.1615 trillion, up NT$83.9 billion, or 4 percent, from last year. The Executive Yuan originally forecast a drop in government revenue of NT$62 billion to NT$2.045 trillion. However, in the budget approved by the legislature, government spending is budgeted at NT$2.1359 trillion, and revenue forecast at about NT$2.0534 trillion. The approved budget covers 5 percent less for subsidies to local governments, and 3 percent less for spending on military equipment and facilities. The allowances for official trips to China were cut by 40 percent, other overseas trips and training by 5 percent, outsourced projects by 5 percent and policy advocacy by 20 percent.
‘A Sun’ listed for Oscars
The Taiwanese family drama A Sun (陽光普照), along with 92 other entries, has been longlisted for best international feature film at the 93rd Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Thursday. The shortlist of 15 films will be announced on Feb. 9, it added. Directed by Pingtung County-born filmmaker Chung Mong-hong (鍾孟宏), A Sun depicts the hardships a family experiences in the aftermath of their son’s arrest. Starring Taiwanese actors Chen Yi-wen (陳以文) and Ko Shu-chin (柯淑勤), the film won a slew of awards at the Golden Horse Awards in 2019, including Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Leading Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Film Editing. The academy is to announce nominees for all categories on March 15.
Taipei beautifies covers
The Taipei City Government has installed 25 uniquely designed maintenance hole covers across the capital, and it is inviting residents and tourists to explore the city’s rich culture and history through the often overlooked drainage system caps. The new covers feature eight designs, and are patterned and colored with symbols that reflect their respective surroundings. The city aims to raise aesthetic awareness and encourage people to learn more about Taipei, the Hydraulic Engineering Office said. The location of the special covers can be found at fb.watch/2pOKbCqkGU. There are about 16,000 maintenance holes on Taipei’s streets, with 7,000 accessible from underground locations.
YouBike fares raised
Users of the bicycle rental service YouBike in New Taipei City would soon also be charged for the first half-hour, the New Taipei City Department of Transportation said. However, the NT$50 charged for rides up to 30 minutes would not be charged from those who transfer from the YouBike system to a different means of public transportation, it added. Transfer users account for 75 percent of all rides in the city, the department said, adding that it believes the change would not discourage people from using public transportation. Department director Chung Ming-shih (鍾鳴時) said that the change would come into effect in late March at the earliest. Implemented in 2014, the city’s YouBike system comprises 635 stations and a fleet of 20,265 bikes, the department said. It is used by more than 100,000 people per day, it said, adding that an estimated 113 million people have since 2014 used YouBikes in the city.
INTERNATIONAL WEED DAY: Advocates are to hold a demonstration to push for the decriminalization of marijuana and allowing its use for treatment of certain conditions It is time for Taiwanese society to examine the medical benefits of cannabis, in line with the international trend to lift restrictions on and decriminalize the use of marijuana, two legislators said yesterday, ahead of tomorrow’s “Rally for Equal Rights for Cannabis” in Taipei. Taiwan is one of a few countries holding a “420 International Weed Day” event — which usually takes place around the April 20 weekend — as most nations have canceled it this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said organizer Green Sensation, which is composed of doctors, lawyers and entertainers, among others. The group released a
The navy’s new 10,600-tonne warship is on Tuesday to be christened the ROCN Yushan (玉山), as the nation’s indigenous shipbuilding program reaches a milestone, sources said yesterday. The vessel, previously referred to as the “new landing platform dock,” was at a shipyard with its name freshly painted on the hull with the number 1401, the Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times) reported yesterday, citing an unnamed observer. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), a member of the legislature’s National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, confirmed the report in a Facebook post. The NT$4.635 billion (US$163 million) ship is designed
DIALOGUE SOUGHT: Washington said it was concerned about the pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate Taiwan after the 10th day of PLA activity in the region The US on Monday urged Beijing to stop its multifaceted pressure campaign against Taiwan after China sent 25 military jets into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. “The United States notes with concern the pattern of ongoing PRC [People’s Republic of China] attempts to intimidate the region, including Taiwan,” a US Department of State spokesperson said in an e-mail response to questions. “We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan, and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan.” The Ministry of National Defense said that 25 Chinese military aircraft entered the zone on Monday. It was the 10th straight
‘NOT ENTHUSIASTIC’: People who have been approved by the CECC as special cases who need to travel, such as foreign diplomats, would be able to receive a vaccine The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday expanded the eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination to the fourth priority group — people who need to travel abroad for special reasons — adding that out-of-pocket vaccines would be available from Wednesday next week. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said although Taiwan’s COVID-19 vaccination program was on Monday expanded to include the top three groups in the priority list, people are still “not enthusiastic” about getting vaccinated. “Only 1,220 people received a vaccine shot on Tuesday, and a total of 27,113 people have received COVID-19 vaccination” so far, he