By Lee I-chia / Staff reporterThe Taipei City Government and EasyCard Corp yesterday announced that users can now link their bank account to their EasyCard and set up automatic top-ups for more convenient use of the card. Cardholders with bank accounts at 12 cooperating banks are to be offered the service, but only accounts at three banks — Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank, Shin Kong Commercial Bank and Mega International Commercial Bank — can be linked during the first phase of the launch. EasyCard chairman Kenneth Lin (林向愷) said the new service is aimed at students and other EasyCard holders without credit cards. Each EasyCard can only be linked to one bank account and only direct relatives, spouses and legal guardians can link their bank accounts to EasyCards registered in a different name, the company said. “For Taipei to become a ‘smart’ financial city, an important factor is to facilitate cashless transactions, meaning that we hope coins and notes will disappear from Taipei,” he said.
Yen asked National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairwoman Nicole Chan (詹婷怡) if the NT$10 billion fund — NT$6 billion from the National Development Fund and NT$4 billion allocated toward the development of the cultural and creative industries — would help counter China’s incentive packages. “Is NT$10 billion a nutritional supplement or a snack? Will it help the film and television industries?” he asked. Yen said that both South Korea and China have adequate funding to produce popular TV series and are capable of exporting them to other countries. The ministry has also provided subsidies to produce films, to help further the education of professionals needed for the film and television industries and to fund projects, Chan said.
Staff writer, with CNADiscover has ranked a report about a Taiwanese scientist’s team finding a protein in a 195 million-year-old dinosaur fossil as its 12th top story of last year. An article about the discovery was published by Nature Communications, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, on Jan. 31 last year, describing how a team led by Lee Yao-chang (李耀昌) of the National Synchrotron Radiation Research Center used a new method to find the protein collagen in a fossil that is more than 100 million years older than previous preserved protein findings. The team used in situ synchrotron radiation-based Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy to look inside the rib fossils of the Lufengosaurus specimen. It was like looking at tiny blood vessels whose diameter was one-third that of a human hair, Discover magazine said. Discover published its list of last year’s top stories in its January/February edition.
By Lisa Wang / Staff reporterSolar wafer supplier Sino-American Silicon Products Inc (SAS, 中美晶) yesterday saw its shares rally 9.82 percent in early trading amid speculation that it has become an acquisition target for a Chinese fund. The stock retreated from earlier gains to close 6.78 percent up at NT$105.5, still setting a six-year record. The fund would reportedly like to secure stable silicon wafer supply through such an investment, as SAS owns a 50.8 percent share in the world’s No. 3 semiconductor wafer supplier, GlobalWafers Co (環球晶圓), the report said. “We did not have information to that effect,” SAS spokesman Lee Chung-wei (李崇偉) said in a company filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday.
The bureau last year held 33 classes to help people quit smoking or chewing betel nuts, bureau Director Lee Chao-jen (李昭仁) said. Out of 389 participants who attended the program, 149 quit smoking, Lee said. From this month until August, the county’s 33 health centers would hold classes to help people quit smoking or chewing betel nuts, the bureau said. Next month, the John Tung Foundation is hosting its biannual “Quit and Win” event, where participants who quit smoking have a chance to win a prize, it added. The bureau said it hopes to help more people quit smoking or chewing betel nuts.
The photographic essay, published in January, is made up of 160 black-and-white photographs of coal miners taken between 1983 and 1988, with short paragraphs explaining their context, Chu said. Thinking judges would be hooked by images that tell a human story, he made regular trips to coal mines during his time off from work and carefully cultivated relationships with miners, he said. However, his motivation gradually changed from winning photography prizes to giving voice to the nation’s miners, Chu said. Photographing coal miners was an experience in sadness and sympathy, he said, pointing to the cover image of his book, a soot-covered miner looking over his shoulders at the camera with a big grin. There was a saying that when a miner was down in the shaft, his life belonged to the earth gods.
By Shelley Shan / Staff reporterThe occupancy rate of the nation’s hotels did not hit a 14-year low in January, the Tourism Bureau said on Sunday, rejecting claims made in a report in the Chinese-language China Times. The newspaper had reported that the average hotel occupancy rate in January dipped to 52.12 percent, a 14-year low. It also said that the bureau had expunged the data recorded in January after a reporter for the newspaper had asked about the lackluster performance. “Hotel occupancy rate and related data are compiled through the voluntary reports filed by the hotels. The shifting time for the Lunar New Year holiday is a major factor affecting hotel occupancy rates in January and February, the bureau said, adding that last year the holiday was in January.
By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporterDemocratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday rejected Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers’ motion demanding that the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) deputy head step down for his approval of rebuilding the controversial Shenao (深澳) power plant. The coal-fired Shenao plant in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District (瑞芳) was demolished in 2007. State-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) has proposed rebuilding the plant, a project that passed an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in 2006. Unconvinced, KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) proposed a motion demanding that Chan step down and that the EPA revoke its approval and review the project again. All six motions were rejected as the DPP’s eight lawmakers on the committee outnumbered the four KMT lawmakers.
By Dave Carroll / Staff reporterTaiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei (謝淑薇) and Czech partner Barbora Strycova on Saturday used “old-school tennis” to overcome the top seeds and claim the doubles title at the BNP Paribas Open. “It was tough, because it was first time for us to play on center court and it was very tricky conditions,” Strycova told the WTA Web site. We are going better and better.”The duo took a last-minute decision to pair up in California; Hsieh had entered with Monica Niculescu, while Strycova planned to play with Svetlana Kuznetsova. You can overcome the power with tricky points, to think how you plan the point every time, to cross, or play serve and volley,” Strycova said. It’s a little bit that maybe we play old-school tennis, but it’s still working.”
Active participation in international organizations can help Taiwan become an important hub for international cultural exchanges, the ministry said. The ministry is to cohost international exchanges with foreign cultural institutions and organizations, develop platforms for arts and cultural performances, and strive to host international conferences in Taiwan, the report said. The ministry’s efforts are in contrast to Beijing’s tightening of regulations on foreign NGOs with branches in that country. On Jan. 1 last year, a regulation governing the activities of foreign NGOs in China went into effect. It requires foreign NGOs to establish a representative office and register with public security agencies.
By Wu Po-hsuan and Sherry Hsiao / Staff reporter, with staff writerA poll released yesterday by the Professor Huang Kun-huei Education Foundation showed 81.7 percent of respondents agree that the government should prioritize the implementation of compulsory education for five-year-olds. The poll also found that 45.4 percent of respondents agree with the government’s policy of providing subsidies for the education of five-year-olds to improve the quality of private preschools, while 45.9 percent of respondents disagree. The poll showed that 79.4 percent of respondents agree that this is the right time to implement compulsory education for five-year-olds and look forward to the government announcing a timetable for implementing the policy as soon as possible. Meanwhile, 70 percent of respondents support sponsoring communities or private businesses to provide space for the government to establish public preschools. According to the Ministry of Education, the percentage of five-year-old children enrolled in preschool programs was more than 96 percent in 2016.
AFP, BEIJINGChina has called on the US to “correct its mistake” after US President Donald Trump approved new rules allowing top-level US officials to travel to Taiwan to meet with their Taiwanese counterparts. US representatives can already travel to Taiwan and Taiwanese officials occasionally visit the White House, but meetings are usually low profile to avoid offending China. The Taiwan Travel Act, which Trump signed on Friday following its passage in the US Congress, encourages visits between Taiwanese and US officials “at all levels.”Washington cut formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979 in favor of Beijing under its “one China” policy, but it maintains trade relations with Taiwan and sells it weapons. “We urge the US side to correct its mistake, stop pursuing any official ties with Taiwan or improving its current relations with Taiwan in any substantive way,” he said. The new US law also comes amid trade tensions between Washington and Beijing as Trump mulls fresh tariff measures that have raised fears of a tit-for-tat trade war.
The data firm is probably best known for its political work during the 2016 US presidential campaign. It worked for both the primary campaign of US Senator Ted Cruz and Trump’s presidential campaign. “The campaign used the RNC for its voter data and not Cambridge Analytica,” the campaign said in a statement. However, Cambridge Analytica did not have the data to make its new products work. So the firm harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission.
Staff writerProperty developer Huaku Development Co (華固建設) on Wednesday last week released financial results for last year, showing that both sales and earnings fell from the previous year. However, the number is less than the NT$14 billion worth of properties that the company sold last year. NEW PROJECTSCheng said Huaku could see better financial results next year, when it is set to generate revenue from the completion of several presale projects. The upcoming projects include the NT$4 billion “Sweet Garden” in New Taipei’s Tucheng District (土城), the NT$8 billion “Your Majesty” in Taipei’s Songshan District (松山) and the NT$5 billion “Le Mout” in the capital’s Zhongshan District (中山). These presale projects have thus far shown healthy sales momentum, with sell-through ratios of more than 70 percent, Cheng said.
Staff writerLife Travel & Tourist Service Co Ltd (五福旅遊) is scheduled to debut on the Taipei Exchange on April 16, becoming the fifth travel agency to list on the nation’s two main bourses. Lion Travel Service Co (雄獅旅行社) trades on the Taiwan Stock Exchange, while Phoenix Tours International Inc (鳳凰旅行社), Star Travel Corp (燦星旅遊) and Ezfly International Travel Agency Co (易飛網國際旅行社) are listed on the over-the-counter Taipei Exchange. Kaohsiung-based Life Travel posted a net income of NT$62.47 million (US$2.14 million) last year, a sixfold increase from NT$10.03 million in 2016, with earnings per share rising from NT$0.39 to NT$2.46. Life Travel, which has 730 employees, said it plans to expand its domestic service network by adding six new outlets to its 19 current ones this year. Life Travel is working on a capital increase scheme by issuing 3.45 million new shares, aiming to raise between NT$86.3 million and NT$103.56 million to replenish its working capital.