Between 2009 and 2014, Chen and Chou advertised in central Taiwan that it was “easy to become a multimillionaire” by selling their white porcelain urns and funeral packages, investigators found. An investigation was launched in 2014, after members complained that the pair had defrauded them of money. Prosecutors said that the urns were sold through a pyramid scheme, in which members moved up the hierarchy by recruiting friends and relatives. Material and production costs were only NT$2,000 for each urn, or 4.3 percent of the sales price, investigators said. Overturning the district court’s verdict, the High Court judges said the lower court had failed to take the company’s pyramid scheme into account when it described the case as sales transactions between sellers and customers.
By Sean Lin / Staff reporterThe Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday voted to send draft amendments aimed at nationalizing irrigation associations and pushing tax reforms to cross-caucus negotiations, allowing the bill to skip a committee review. The DPP, which holds the legislative majority, tendered a motion to send the draft amendment to the Organic Regulations for Irrigation and Water Conservancy Associations (農田水利會組織通則) to committee review. Shouting slogans, KMT lawmakers said the DPP’s proposed amendment was a “shameless” attempt to “plunder” farmers’ assets under the guise of reform. After the motion was passed, the DPP filed back-to-back motions to skip related motions filed by other caucuses and to send the draft amendment to cross-caucus negotiations. The KMT caucus condemned Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) in the strongest possible terms for standing idly by and not telling Tsai and DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) that they should not send only the DPP caucus’ bill to cross-caucus negotiations while dropping all the other proposals, Lai said.
ReutersAndrew Ng (吳恩達), cofounder of some of Alphabet Inc-owned Google’s most prominent artificial intelligence (AI) projects, on Thursday launched a new venture with iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (鴻海精密) to bring AI and machine learning onto the factory floor. Landing.ai has been approached by investors, but has not accepted outside capital, Ng said, adding that Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn Technology Group (富士康), is Landing.ai’s first strategic partner. The start-up has been working with Hon Hai since July, but Ng would not elaborate on the nature of the collaboration or which of the Taiwanese company’s clients it might involve. Ng said he understands that his firm’s technology is likely to displace factory workers, but Landing.ai is already working on how to train workers for higher-skilled, higher-paying factory work involving computers. Ng, a Stanford University professor, cofounded Google Brain in 2011, an effort that strung together thousands of computers that learned to identify objects, such as cats, purely from watching YouTube videos.
Staff writer, with CNAMore than half of the 11 entertainment venues inspected by New Taipei City’s consumer ombudsmen had failed safety checks, but have since made improvements, the city government said on Thursday. The checks focused on fire and building safety measures and facilities for disabled patrons, Huang said. The inspections covered six movie theaters — Banciao District’s (板橋) Vie Show Cinemas and Showtime Cinemas; Sanchong District’s (三重) T-Movies Cinema; Sinjhuang District’s (新莊) Filmmate Cinema; and Linkou District’s (林口) Ambassador Theatres and Vie Show Cinemas, Huang said. Of the 11 establishments, six failed safety checks for a range of reasons, including problems with smoke ventilation switches, corridors being used to stack items, safety doors that did not close properly or were locked, and KTV room emergency exits being inaccessible, he said. The six establishments have since made improvements and passed another fire and building safety check, he said.
Staff writer, with CNAThe number of Taiwanese traveling to the Philippines to study English has surged to 10,000 annually over the past five years, according to the Global Career Development Association, a Taipei-based civic organization focused on developing people’s global career potential. There has been a tremendous rise in the number of people going to the Philippines to study English in recent years, from 1,000 people in 2012 to 10,000 this year, association president Wang Hsing-wei (王星威) said. Wang said two groups often choose to study in the Philippines: students who are taking winter or summer holiday courses to sharpen their English skills and professionals who need reach a certain level of proficiency in a short amount of time. About 20 years ago, South Koreans were the first to travel to the Philippines to learn English, Wang said. Even with 10,000 Taiwanese nationals enrolled in the Philippines annually, Wang said he believes that there is still room for growth.
By Kuo Chia-erh / Staff reporterTong Yang Industry Co (東陽實業), which supplies automotive metal sheets and bumpers to global brands, yesterday reported that its pretax profit last month declined 14.51 percent year-on-year to NT$271 million (US$9.04 million), mainly due to foreign-exchange losses. Aggregate pretax income in the first 11 months of this year fell 1.9 percent to NT$2.71 billion on an annual basis, with pretax earnings per share of NT$4.37, the company said in a statement. Despite the decrease in earnings, Tong Yang gave a relatively positive business outlook for next year, considering the sustained global demand for automotive components. Tong Yang, which entered the Chinese market in 1994, has invested US$153 million in its 15 OEM plants and one aftermarket parts plant in China in collaborations with Chinese car brands, such as Guangzhou Automobile Group (廣汽集團) and FAW Group (一汽集團). Tong Yang shares yesterday remained unchanged at NT$57.6 in Taipei trading after the release of the company’s latest earnings results.
Staff writer, with CNAA former Taiwanese diplomat found guilty of corruption was yesterday sentenced to two years in jail, suspended for three years, and was deprived of his political rights for a year, according to a ruling by the Supreme Court. Lin Wen-ho (林文和) was guilty of embezzling money from his entertainment expenses when he was serving as the deputy consul-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Honolulu from January 2014 to May 2015, the verdict said. Lin fabricated documents to make it look like he was hosting meetings and dinners with US government and business officials, when the money was spent on non-official purposes, such as treating Taiwanese students studying abroad to dinner or paying the travel expenses of people he knew, the verdict said. He did this on seven different occasions and collected a total of US$2,650 from the office’s entertainment fund, the verdict said. The Supreme Court said that it had reduced Lin’s sentence, which for a corruption case is usually seven years or more in prison, because he confessed about the crime and it was a relatively small amount of money.
Yu Chien-chung donated 18 calligraphy scrolls by his grandfather Yu You-ren (于右任) to the museum on his father’s behalf. Yu You-ren was a prominent late-Qing Dynasty intellectual who after the revolution became the Republic of China’s longest-serving Control Yuan president. “Its expertise is the main reason [Yu Peng] decided to give away the calligraphy,” Yu Chien-chung said. “Yu Peng’s immense learning and great modesty are cast in the mold of his father, Yu You-ren. Asked to comment on receiving the honor, Yu Peng thanked reporters for traveling a long way to see him.
While the Ministry of National Defense declined to comment on the suggestion, Taiwanese military expert Chieh Chung (揭仲) said that the nation could only deploy air tankers when it has achieved air superiority because the tankers are relatively fragile. The air force’s main goal should be to persuade the US to sell Taiwan F-35 jets, Chieh said. If such a goal is unattainable, Taiwan should seek to upgrade the efficacy of its surface-to-air missiles systems, while maximizing the chances of its command structure surviving an attack, Chieh said. However, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) said that the nation’s jets would have access to “friendly” air fields and the air tankers would not be needed. The air force should prioritize the acquisition of fighter jets with short takeoff and landing capabilities, which would enable jets to scramble quickly should the nation’s airfields come under bombardment, he said.
Kaohsiung-based Ching Fu had taken out a NT$20.5 billion (US$683.5 million) syndicated loan from state-run lenders, most of which have written down losses in the past two months to improve asset quality. Mega Financial said its main source of income, Mega International Commercial Bank (兆豐銀行), would have to set aside another NT$300 million for Ching Fu and an extra NT$400 million for TransAsia this month. While Mega Bank did not participate in the NT$20.5 billion syndicated loan to Ching Fu, it lent money to the cash-strapped shipbuilder on its own. Provision costs last month amounted to NT$1.24 billion at its flagship unit, Hua Nan Commercial Bank (華南銀航), with Ching Fu and TransAsia accounting for the bulk, the conglomerate said. Banking arm First Commercial Bank (第一銀行) last month wrote off NT$700 million due to Ching Fu, after setting aside a similar amount in October.
By Crystal Hsu / Staff reporterThe Taiwan Research Institute (TRI, 台灣綜合研究院) yesterday set its forecast for the nation’s GDP growth next year at 2.31 percent, milder than the estimated 2.53 percent pickup for this year, as exports might stabilize amid a continued global recovery. Nearly 75 percent of global economies put up a stronger GDP showing this year, allowing Taiwan’s exports to beat forecasts by all research institutes. “Despite the marked improvement, Taiwan’s GDP growth has lagged behind the global economy for years, meriting attention from policymakers,” Wu said. The government can help GDP growth by increasing infrastructure expenditure, but it can play a more effective role by supporting investment projects mired in environmental disputes, Tamkang University finance professor William Lin (林蒼祥) said. The institute forecast consumer prices to increase from 0.64 percent this year to a slightly higher 0.88 percent next year, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold nearly steady, declining to 3.72 percent from 3.78 percent.
The court found 31-year-old Vahid Mazinani guilty of obstructing an officer in discharge of duties for both incidents on Oct. 12 and Oct. 13, when he clashed with police, injuring several officers and a bus driver. Following the incidents, Academia Sinica said he would be suspended from his job as a research assistant. Local media quoted Mazinani’s friends as saying that he was easygoing, but was emotionally distressed after a breakup and had problems at work. After being taken for questioning at a police station, he was released without bail, despite having injured three officers. That incident required the cooperation of several police and bystanders to subdue Mazinani, with Lin and one officer sustaining injuries that required medical attention, prosecutors said.
The district is dominated by the many-peaked bulk of Guanyin Mountain (觀音山), an outlier of the Datun Mountain range. Apart from Guanyin Mountain, Shisanhang Museum of Archaeology (十三行博物館) and the Bali Left Bank (八里左岸) tourist area, there’s not so much to attract visitors to the area, except for cyclists. So here is my personal choice of the best-of-the-eight (mostly natural) sights of Bali. Turn left towards Bali, and in 300 meters turn left again into Longxing 5th Street (龍形五街). When you reach a boulder engraved with the characters for Sanqing Temple (三青宮), about 1.7 kilometers, turn left.
Irrigation association elections have improved markedly since former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration abolished indirect elections by association members and granted farmers the right to directly elect association chairpersons, KMT caucus secretary-general Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan. That would be especially unfair if the government plans to divert water used for irrigation to satisfy industrial needs, he said. The DPP has claimed that vote-buying is rampant in the associations’ chairperson elections, but that claim does not make sense, Lin said. The nation’s 17 irrigation associations have a combined annual income of about NT$13.1 billion (US$436.6 million), 38 percent of which comes from government subsidies, KMT vice secretary-general Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) said. That means the government might have to budget NT$80 billion in extra spending every year if the associations are nationalized, she said.
Professional drivers, including truck and bus drivers, would be fined between NT$60,000 and NT$120,000 for the same offense. Car drivers and motorcycle riders would be fined NT$2,400 to NT$7,200 if they do not yield to visually impaired pedestrians. The proposed amendments would also tighten regulations for taxi drivers. Cab drivers would have their licenses suspended if a district court found them guilty of swindling passengers. The committee also approved amendments to Article 37 regarding qualifications for taxi drivers.