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.
Phase 2 clinical trial results of the Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday were published on the Web site of The Lancet: Respiratory Medicine, in an early preview before publication. The study paves the way for other nations to issue emergency use authorizations or produce the Medigen vaccine, given The Lancet’s credibility as a highly respected medical journal with a rigorous peer-review process, Medigen’s international affairs director Lien Chia-en (連加恩) said. Lien said that the study is important as it proposes methods for converting international units for efficacy comparisons. The methods have been used for correlating the efficacy of hepatitis B
LIABILITIES MULLED: New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi said Taipei would find out if the firm was legally registered, the guide was licensed and the weather was assessed The assets of Tian Da Local Nature Co are to be frozen after at least four people died after falling into the Beishi River (北勢溪) on an outing the company had organized on Saturday, the Taipei City Government said yesterday. Six people — two adults and four children — were washed away by a flash flood on the river in New Taipei City’s Hubaotan (虎豹潭) area. They were participating in a Nature Joy Camp outdoor activity with a group of 16 adults and 15 children led by a guide surnamed Su (蘇). As of 4:30pm yesterday, four of the missing had been
THREATS: Dismissing Beijing’s assertion that its military exercises only target Taiwanese separatists, Chiu Kuo-cheng said war has no regard for political affiliation In case Taiwan is attacked, the military will defend the nation and not stand by like “plastic toys,” Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said yesterday at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee. Chiu was responding to Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) asking him to clarify his remark last week that “the military holds to the principle that we will not fire the first shot.” Wang asked Chiu whether he meant what he said literally or that Taiwan would not start a war. “The Republic of China will not start a war,” Chiu
Taiwanese worked more hours than people in all but three other countries in the world last year, Ministry of Labor data showed. Singapore placed first in average hours worked among the 40 economies surveyed, with an average of 2,288 hours per worker last year, the data showed. The city-state was followed by Colombia with 2,172 hours — based on 2019 data — and Mexico with 2,124 hours, it showed. Taiwan came in fourth, with 2,021 hours, it showed. South Korean workers clocked the third-most hours in Asia, with 1,908 hours, followed by Japan with 1,598 hours, it showed. However, compared with 2019, the survey found