By Abraham Gerber / Staff reporterCalls to “fight to the finish” by pension reform opponents drew a tepid response yesterday as protester numbers continued to dwindle, with only a scattering gathered outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei as the bill enters its final stretch. “If the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] refuses to budge, we will adopt the harshest possible protest measures and a scorched-earth strategy,” National Federation of Teachers’ Unions director-general Huang Yao-nan (黃耀南) said. He blasted rumors that the final DPP version would be even harsher than that approved by the National Pension Reform Commission, tripling the speed at which preferential savings accounts would be eliminated and pension replacement ratios lowered. He said his federation and other groups affiliated with the Alliance for Monitoring Pension Reform had issued a mobilization call late on Wednesday following the breakdown of cross-caucus negotiations. In contrast, more than 300 police were mobilized to man the Legislative Yuan complex barricades and numerous nearby street corners, Zhongzheng First Police Precinct Chief Inspector Jason Yu (于增祥) said.
Diamond brokers have been using Italian banks to sell high-quality investment diamonds in a business that totaled at least 300 million euros (US$334.9 million at the current exchange rate) in sales in 2015, broker data showed. Diamond sales have taken off, as negative interest rates have curtailed bank revenues and rendered many other investments unattractive for clients. Banks make a one-off commission of at least 10 percent on diamond sales in return for putting the diamond brokers in touch with their clients, between whom the contract is signed. Selling diamonds with the promise of a financial return is banned in Italy unless regulated in the same way as other financial products, such as mutual funds. Banks and brokers have said they do not promise a financial return when selling the stones.
Staff writer, with CNA, PARISThe Taichung City Government inked a memorandum of understanding on cooperation with French software company Dassault Systemes SA and Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) in Paris on Wednesday as part of efforts to develop Taichung’s “smart machinery” industry. The agreement was signed at the Paris Air Show by Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), Dassault senior executive vice president Bertrand Sicot and Lo Tzuo-liang (羅左良), a section chief at ITRI’s Smart Microsystem Technology Center. The Taichung Economic Development Bureau said the city hopes to establish a long-term partnership with Dassault to promote advanced industrial software and system simulation technology in Taichung and promote the company’s software among machinery makers.
She rejected Varela’s claim that he had told President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and ministry officials in a meeting that Panama would switch recognition to Beijing if the cross-strait “diplomatic ceasefire” ended. Although Panama and Taiwan have a good relationship, establishing relations with China was “the right thing to do,” given the end of the cross-strait “diplomatic truce,” Varela told the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think tank, on Wednesday. He described the “diplomatic truce” and increased cross-strait exchanges during former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) time in office as a “success story,” which had suddenly changed. He had decided that Panama should turn to Beijing after China impressed him with its “economic might” during a trip in 2007. “Why should we not switch Panama’s diplomatic recognition?” he said, citing substantial Chinese investment and construction projects in his nation.
By Abraham Gerber / Staff reporterRule changes that profit a closed university in Pingtung County risk setting a dangerous precedent as the nation prepares for massive school closures and consolidations, union members said yesterday in a protest outside the Ministry of Education. The school submitted multiple transition plans, which were repeatedly rejected by the ministry. “Today, Yung Ta is a test case for public schools, because if the ministry does not take over its property, it is effectively giving it to the private school board,” union secretary-general Chen Cheng-liang (陳正亮) said. “The new rules add a requirement that schools must finish their transition and will be disbanded if they do not,” said Chang Chia-yu (張嘉育), a senior specialist at the ministry’s Department of Technological and Vocational Education. Provisions extending Yung Ta’s deadline were designed to avoid legal liability, she said, adding that the ministry could have been sued if it had applied the new rules retroactively.
AFP, AUCKLAND, New ZealandThe All Blacks say they have prepared to beat the British and Irish Lions’ rushed defense, with coach Steve Hansen yesterday saying that they have plans to counter their line speed. Hansen also dismissed claims by Lions coach Warren Gatland that he was “worried” ahead of the first Test between the world champions and the Lions in Auckland tomorrow. Apart from Ioane, Hansen picked a predictable All Blacks side, which includes the return from injury of captain Kieran Read. “I haven’t had any conversations about Gats [Gatland],” Hansen said. The Test is to take place at Eden Park in Auckland, where the All Blacks are undefeated in 23 years.
By Sean Lin / Staff reporterA motion by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to set the minimum monthly pension for retired civil servants, including public-school teachers, at NT$32,160 (US$1,056) passed its second reading yesterday. A proposal by the New Power Party (NPP) to set the minimum pension at NT$22,208, the median disposable income, was only backed by the NPP caucus’ five legislators. The average replacement rate is 97 percent and would still be 77 percent after the pension reform is completed, he said. Legislators for and against the pension reform gave speeches in between the votes, with the KMT caucus criticizing President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) pension reform plan. The money the government would save through pension reform pales in comparison with the Cabinet’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, which has a budget of NT$882.49 billion, they said.
By Chien Huei-ju, Liu Hsiao-hsin and William Hetherington / Staff reporters, with staff writerChinese Taipei Surfing Association secretary-general George Tsai (蔡濯羽) is to lead Taiwan’s first national surfing team to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the association said. Tsai, who has been actively promoting surfing in Taiwan, took fourth place in the open category of the longboard surfing championships held in the nation in March. He also led the Taiwanese team in an international surfing competition held last month in France. Tsai, 41, said he visited Yilan County’s Wushi Harbor (烏石港) more than 10 years ago after the Hsuehshan Tunnel opened. Despite this growing industry, locals still consider surfing to be nothing more than a recreational activity, seeing fisheries as more important to the township, Tsai said.
Average overtime pay per worker per month from January-April rose 9.01 percent from a year earlier to NT$1,693 (US$55.69), the DGBAS said. In April alone, average overtime pay per worker rose 5.27 percent from a year earlier to NT$1,719, the DGBAS said. Pan Ning-hsin (潘寧馨), deputy director of the DGBAS' census department, reiterated that the new work hour rules had boosted overtime pay given by employers. Employers are required to pay overtime for work on the flexible day off. Meanwhile, average monthly wages, comprising regular salary and non-regular wages such as overtime pay and bonuses, rose 1.83 percent year-on-year for April to NT$44,359, the DGBAS said.
June 22, 2017 14:15 UTC
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Foxconn Technology Group plans to move its fully automated manufacturing supply chain to the United States, the company founder said on Thursday. Foxconn is considering investing about US$10 billion in six states mostly around the Great Lakes, with projects over a five-year period, said Terry Gou (郭台銘), chairman and CEO of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., better known as Foxconn. Gou said the group has been in touch with the White House's American Innovation Office and six states in the Midwest, the heart of the US manufacturing sector. The supply chain could include display making, semiconductor packaging, big data and cloud-related technologies, Gou said at the company's annual shareholders' meeting in New Taipei.
June 22, 2017 14:15 UTC
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's leading trade fair for the food industry is also an important event for food packaging machine makers and food processing solution providers. The trade show played host to the second annual Smart Machinery Competition on Thursday, with the homegrown pharmaceutical packaging company Yenchen Machinery Company emerging as the national champion. Close behind were the finalists, including Chanmag Bakery Machine Company, Yang Jenq Machinery Company, Excell Precision Company and Yi Hong Environment Technology Company. Their talks focused on the huge opportunities that the Indonesian market afforded to Taiwanese food machinery and equipment makers, as well as new smart machine policies of Taiwan's current administration. And this is where Taiwan's machinery industry is involved — Taiwan can help them create value," Lin said.
June 22, 2017 14:03 UTC
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Six members of a Taiwanese tourist group were injured in western China's Xinjiang region on Thursday when their tour bus ran off the road, Taiwan's Tourism Bureau said that day. The bus was carrying 19 people and traveling near the town of Qiaku'ertu when the accident occurred at 4:48 p.m., according to the bureau. The six injured passengers, aged between 57 and 69 years old, were taken to local hospitals for treatment for their injuries which included broken bones, concussion and bruises, but are reportedly not life-threatening. Another two will return to Taiwan for treatment on Friday and another plans to rejoin the tour group, according to Life Tour, the travel agency which organized the tour. Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正), deputy head and spokesman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, said officials had contacted the Chinese side and will arrange for families of the injured to visit China.
June 22, 2017 13:52 UTC
Italian nun Sister Maristella Piergianni, who has cared for the underprivileged in Taiwan for more than 50 years, was recently granted Taiwanese citizenship and a Taiwanese ID card, fulfilling her dream of becoming a naturalized citizen. "I've always wanted to be Taiwanese," said the 74-year-old, who was excited to receive the Taiwanese ID card and pledged that she will continue her efforts to help those in need. In 1992, she was transferred to a center for special education in Hsinchu City, where she worked for 12 years. The center was later managed by St. Joseph Social Welfare Foundation. Piergianni later moved to the Missionary Sisters Del Sacro Costato before she started working at St. Joseph Social Welfare Foundation in 2014, where she cares for mentally challenged children.
June 22, 2017 12:45 UTC
TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Taiwan Research Institute said on Thursday it has raised its forecast for gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Taiwan for 2017 to more than 2 percent, at a time of rising global demand. The institute, one of the leading think tanks in Taiwan, upgraded its GDP growth forecast from 1.74 percent to 2.01 percent. The institute joined a growing list of think tanks to hike their GDP predictions to more than 2 percent. The think tank said that foreign fund movements, China's economic growth, cross strait ties and domestic power supply could affect the domestic economy in the second half of the year. Despite slower growth in the second half of the year, the institute said Taiwan's economic growth is expected to remain stable throughout 2017.
June 22, 2017 12:45 UTC
BANGKOK -- Bangkok city officials are planning a "landmark" new street food market, as Thailand's military government clamps down on the capital's street food scene, local media reported Thursday. The proposed market will feature "more than 200 food vendors affected by [the government's new policy]," said deputy commerce minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, according to the Bangkok Post. "The area will become a landmark for street food," he added. In April, city leaders said that all street food in Bangkok would be banned by the end of 2017. The announcement took many by surprise, especially as the Thai capital in March was named the world's top street food destination for the second straight year by CNN.
June 22, 2017 12:00 UTC