A cross-party consensus has been reached to suspend legislative meetings next week to reduce risks of a COVID-19 cluster infection, Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) said yesterday, adding that plans are under way for lawmakers to hold meetings by videoconferencing.
The decision to cancel next week’s meetings was made after cross-party negotiations earlier yesterday, following reports that a cleaner at one of the Legislative Yuan’s buildings had been infected with COVID-19. However, that turned out to be a false alarm after a medical exam found that the female worker’s respiratory symptoms were due to tonsillitis.
There were also reports that a Ministry of Labor officer in charge of liaison with lawmakers had tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday last week, but a data check showed that he had not visited the legislature since May 11.
In the face of a recent surge in domestic infections, the Democratic Progressive Party and opposition parties agreed on measures to reduce transmission, such as setting up plastic barriers between seats in the meeting rooms, registering and verifying all names of participants at meetings, including legislative assistants, staffers and members of the media, and observing social distancing during interviews with the media.
The DPP also advocated switching to videoconferencing to allow lawmakers to participate in meetings without attending in person.
You said the hardware is in place for holding videoconferences, including providing each lawmaker with an iPad and supporting electronics devices.
Several opposition parties supported the proposal, but the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) opposed it.
The KMT does not support the idea because of security concerns, as the electronic devices might come with hidden wiretapping and surveillance programs, Lai said.
Asked about the proposal, You said that lawmakers would test the videoconferencing system today.
“Lawmakers can use their iPad to sign in, address the session, confer with each other and with government officials, engage in questions and answers, and vote on legislative bills — all done remotely,” he told reporters.
Asked about the KMT’s suspicions, the DPP said that the iPads and telecommunications system were installed and tested for security clearance by information technology staff at the legislature, and were scanned for viruses and malware.
For the in-person meeting today, DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) urged opposition parties to approve proposed amendments to the Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例).
The DPP will place the proposal on the priority agenda for today, and hope to get it approved by a roll-call vote.
The proposal would raise the government budget to up to NT$630 billion (US$22.5 billion) for industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
If it is not passed today, the DPP would try to have it approved on May 31, the last day of the current session, as the current bill is set to expire on June 30, Ker said.
Passage of the amendments would extend the act to June 30 next year, he said.
HIGH STAKES: An attack on Taiwan could prompt a joint response from the US and Japan, and trigger a global conflict that could bring down the CCP, Liu Tai-ying said The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would not be able to launch an invasion of Taiwan for at least another 10 years, Taiwan Research Institute founder Liu Tai-ying (劉泰英) said on Friday. To occupy Taiwan, China needs to transport at least 300,000 to 400,000 troops across the Taiwan Strait during battle, but it would lack the ability to do so for at least another decade, said Liu, a former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) treasurer and a close aide to former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). The challenges that China would face during an attempted invasion of Taiwan would be even greater than those
CHINA CRITIC: Prime ministerial candidate Giorgia Meloni, the front-runner in today’s election, said that she would not renew a Belt and Road Initiative deal with Beijing Italian lawmaker Giorgia Meloni, the front-runner to become the country’s next prime minister, is expected to reverse course on Italy’s support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative and strengthen ties with Taiwan if a coalition headed by her party wins the country’s general election today. “Without any doubt, if there is a center-right government, it is sure that Taiwan will be an essential concern for Italy,” Meloni told the Central News Agency in an interview. Italians are to vote in a snap election triggered by the resignation of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi following a failed attempt to get his coalition partners
Taiwan from Thursday is to reinstate visa exemptions for passport holders from 65 countries. Mandatory quarantine for arriving travelers is to be lifted on Oct. 13 , when restrictions on inbound and outbound tour groups are also to be lifted. The following is a list of answers to common questions regarding how the new regulations are to affect inbound international visitors Which passports will have visa-free entry privileges? Eleven more countries on Thursday are to join 54 countries that were given visa-free privileges on Sept. 12. Passport holders from Japan, South Korea, Chile, Israel and Nicaragua can stay in Taiwan for up to 90 days without a visa. Taiwan is also to resume 30-day visa-free stays for citizens of the Dominican Republic, Singapore and Malaysia. Passport holders from Thailand, Brunei and the Philippines are to be allowed to stay in Taiwan for 14 days visa-free. Taiwan on Sept. 12 resumed 90-day visa-free entry for passport holders from the US, the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New
HAWAII MODEL: While Hawaii held a referendum on becoming the 50th US state, Taiwan has never applied to join the People’s Republic of China, Miles Yu said China comparing Taiwanese independence to Hawaii seeking independence from the US is illogical, as Taiwan has never applied to be a part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Hudson Institute senior fellow Miles Yu (余茂春) said over the weekend. Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅), who is in New York for the UN General Assembly, has given multiple talks asserting Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan. In a speech to the Asia Society on Thursday, Wang likened Taiwan to Hawaii. “Just as the US would not allow Hawaii to break away,” Beijing “reserves the right” to seek unification, Wang told the gathering. The