Staff writer, with CNAA trial run of a program offering Philippine nationals visa-free entry for up to 14 days is to begin next month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. “The trial is being held to attract Philippine visitors to Taiwan for tourism and business, as well as to increase people-to-people exchanges between the two nations,” the ministry said in a statement. The trial is to run until July 31 next year, after which it will be reviewed to see if the program should be extended, it added. Online applications for e-visas were also made available to members of group tours organized by designated travel agencies. However, these visa-relaxation measures will no longer apply to Philippine travelers once the trial is launched on Nov. 1.
Her compelling life story, Chavela, opened the Women Make Waves Film Festival (台灣國際女性影展) Friday last week with a second screening set for Saturday. Hu’s film depicts the events that occur after a bisexual woman surprises her husband with a female sex robot. All tickets are purchasable at 7-Eleven ibon kiosks or at the Spot Huashan Women Make Waves ticket counter. It follows April, a Georgian sex worker in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and her interactions with Dije, a young Nigerian immigrant wandering the same city. Filmed in black and white, this movie explores the connection between Nigerian immigrants and Georgian sex workers and how two seemingly contrasting groups can find common ground.
According to the Standards of Air Quality (空氣品質標準), the nation’s annual average PM2.5 concentration should be kept below 15 micrograms per cubic meter (mcg/m3). However, the average level of PM2.5 last year was 20mcg/m3, EPA data showed. About 8,000 factories that emit PM2.5 particles will be required to pay air pollution fees, which the EPA estimated would generate NT$1.2 billion (US$39.8 million) to be used toward controlling air pollution, Tsai said. “By the end of 2019, we hope to push the annual average PM2.5 level down to 18mcg/m3,” Chan said. Chan added that the EPA would propose more measures to improve air quality if it failed to achieve the goal by then.
Staff writer, with CNAUS President Donald Trump’s failure to fill many of the top posts in his administration has hampered defense cooperation between Taiwan and the US, US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers told a news conference on Sunday. Hammond-Chambers said that although he is “frustrated,” he is still optimistic about ongoing defense cooperation between the two nations. The department did not say “No,” but the situation in Washington is that there is no one to make a decision, Hammond-Chambers said, and the vacant posts have affected the implementation of defense security plans between Taiwan and the US. He said he agrees that Taiwan’s insufficient defense budget has had a negative effect on its ability to upgrade its air combat capabilities and deter threats. The conference, held from Sunday to today in Princeton, New Jersey, is a platform for dialogue on Taiwan’s national security needs, weapons procurement and defense cooperation with the US.
By Yang Chun-hui and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter, with staff writerThe China Youth Corps maintains close links to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in its operations and personnel management, Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee sources said yesterday. The committee is to hold a second round of hearings on Tuesday next week to determine whether the China Youth Corps is an affiliate organization of the KMT. When asked to comment, Committee Chairman Lin Feng-jeng (林?正) said the corps has been beholden to the KMT in personnel appointments and operations since its founding by the KMT reform committee. This is made quite clear by fact that former corps president Jeanne Li (李鍾桂) reported to the KMT Central Standing Committee,” Lin said. “The reality is that the China Youth Corps has been an organization directly controlled by the KMT, in spite of being a public organization in name,” the committee member said.
By Lauly Li / Staff reporterTaiwanese solar cell makers Neo Solar Power Energy Corp (新日光能源), Gintech Energy Corp (昱晶能源) and Solartech Energy Corp (昇陽光電) yesterday inked a letter of intent to merge via a share swap in an bid to compete with global rivals. “The nation’s solar power industry has been struggling for years. We believe the merger will create a competitive business model,” Neo Solar chairman Sam Hong (洪傳獻) told a news conference at the Taiwan Stock Exchange. Based on the letter of intent, Gintech shareholders will be able to swap each of their shares for 1.39 common shares of Neo Solar, while Solartech shares can be swapped for 1.17 Neo Solar shares, the companies said. The National Development Council said it has not yet received the application, but added that it supports the consolidation of solar firms to increase production capacity and competitiveness.
By Kuo Chia-erh / Staff reporterFar Eastern New Century Corp (FENC, 遠東新世紀) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a Swiss-based health service provider to commercialize its smartwear technology. However, FENC is the first to secure a partnership with a foreign brand to offer smartwear solutions. FENC yesterday also inked an MOU with Freeport, Maine-based US outdoor apparel company LL Bean Inc to develop a line of smart clothing for athletes. The company said it is also in talks with several global brands about its smartwear solutions. It expects revenue contribution from smartwear solutions to increase over the coming years.
By Shelley Shan / Staff reporterThe Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) yesterday said it will reveal ticket fare adjustments for the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) services next year. However, the lawmakers questioned Hochen about a report published yesterday by the Chinese-language China Times that the TRA has proposed the ministry to adjust ticket prices. “The railway operator had submitted similar plans in the past, which were mainly designed to reflect the rise in its operational costs over the past 22 years. We cannot simply adjust ticket prices to reflect the increase in operational costs. If these two conditions are met, the plan to adjust the ticket prices could proceed with a reasonable expectation for a rise in service quality,” he said.
The US jobless rate has fallen to 4.2 percent, its lowest level since 2001, and the participation rate has shown stabilization as Americans come back into the workforce. “On balance, wage gains appear moderate, and the pace seems broadly consistent with a tightening labor market once we account for the disappointing productivity growth in recent years,” Yellen said in her prepared comments. “We continue to expect that the ongoing strength of the economy will warrant gradual increases in that rate to sustain a healthy labor market and stabilize inflation around our 2 percent longer-run objective,” Yellen said. “Our balance sheet will decline gradually and predictably,” she said, avoiding outside movements in interest rates and market strains. Some Fed officials have cited concerns over financial stability as another reason to gradually raise rates after US stock markets reached record highs.
Taitung County was the worst affected out of 22 cities and counties, as agricultural losses there totaled NT$13.46 million, more than half of the national total. Hualien County farms followed closely behind with NT$9.82 million in losses, or about 40 percent of the national total, while Yilan County farms lost about NT$769,000 due to the inclement weather. Crop losses reached at least NT$12.8 million, as 197 hectares of rice paddies sustained damage, accounting for NT$4.51 million of the total crop losses. Livestock farms, primarily poultry farms, reported rain-induced losses of at least NT$3.46 million, while the aquaculture sector suffered losses of NT$1.84 million, in tilapia and clam farming. The Executive Yuan said affected farmers could apply for cash remedies and low-interest loans from local governments within seven days after the disaster.
Lai, who assumed the post on Sept. 8, has garnered the approval of 68.8 percent of respondents, while 23 percent expressed dissatisfaction. The premier is heeding public opinion, according to 60.2 percent of respondents, while 30.3 percent said he is not. Tsai’s approval rating stands at 49.7 percent, while her disapproval rating is at 45.1 percent. Just over half of respondents at 54.8 percent said they support Tsai, while 40.4 percent said they do not. “In terms of polling performance, the [administration] has weathered an unstable period after Lai’s inauguration,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) said.
Shopee Taiwan claimed to be a subsidiary of Singapore-based Sea Ltd and was registered in Taiwan as a Singaporean company with paid-in capital of NT$5 million (US$165,793.50), Yeh said. Shopee Taiwan, Garena Taiwan and Aipei Taiwan appear to have intentionally hidden their investor structure and provided untrue information to the government, which would mean that their company registrations are acts of forgery, Yeh said. Shopee Taiwan has denied Yeh’s allegations. “We have been abiding by Taiwan’s regulations and we are willing to explain our operations to relevant agencies,” Shopee Taiwan said in a statement. “The worst scenario would see Shopee Taiwan be asked to withdraw its investments from Taiwan,” Chang said.
Staff reporter, with CNAThe Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday dismissed as “groundless” and “pure speculation” a newspaper report that Taiwan’s navy could offer humanitarian assistance if a war were to break out between the US and North Korea. The official was cited as saying that the nation’s military could offer humanitarian assistance to the US if an all-out war broke out between the US and North Korea, resulting in heavy casualties. The ministry released a statement dismissing the report, saying it was “fictitious” and “far from the truth.”It called on media outlets to verify their information with authorities before publishing groundless reports that could mislead the public. It is used to transport fuel, ammunition and other supplies to warships in wartime, the navy said. In peacetime, it is used to carry supplies, conduct maritime rescue operations and provide humanitarian assistance, it said.
The fatal accident was one of the topics at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee yesterday. Cheng questioned why the travel agency continued to take tourists there if it knew that there would be heavy rain in the area, adding that the travel agency would be at fault if it had gone on to hold the tour despite the area to be visited being a disaster zone. Chang also said that the Regulations Governing Travel Agencies (旅行業管理規則) stated travel agencies would face penalties if it is determined that they failed to ensure safety during tours. According to the regulations, a travel agency can be fined a maximum of NT$50,000 for failing to ensure tourists’ safety, Chang saidHowever, the Transportation Committee last week proposed raising the penalty to NT$500,000, he added. Whether the travel agency would be penalized for the accident would depend on the results of the investigation, Chang said.
By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporterThe National Development Council (NDC) should not exploit the nation’s farmland by exempting state-run Taiwan Sugar Corp’s (Taisugar) land developments under 10 hectares from environmental impact assessments (EIA), environmental groups said yesterday. The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in May proposed that developments on Taisugar land bigger than 1 hectare should undergo an EIA. Responding to New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming’s (徐永明) questions at the Legislative Yuan yesterday, Chen said land development in non-urban areas within 10 hectares can do without an EIA. It is curious that development on Taisugar land should conform to stricter regulations, she said, adding that the EPA should offer a more convincing explanation for the divergent standard it proposed. “We have to face reality and re-evaluate the status quo of the company’s land.”Environmental groups said Taisugar lands are supposed to be public properties, rather than a private asset.