By Shelley Shan / Staff reporterA proposal to charge for entry to designated national scenic areas to raise conservation funds drew mixed reactions among tourism operators, some of whom supported the draft policy, while others said it would raise operating costs. The regulations, which would apply to travelers to designated scenic areas and other natural, cultural or ecological scenic areas, would create a legal basis for tourist conservation fees, which could vary from NT$30 to NT$200 depending on the season and tourists’ nationalities. Revenue from the collection of such fees is to be used only toward conserving the natural and cultural assets in the stated areas, according to the regulations. Most tourists do not have to pay or must pay extremely low fees when to enter scenic areas, Travel Quality Assurance Association director Lilien Lian (連郁卿) said, adding that they should be charged admission fees. “Collecting charges should help the government raise tour quality and conserve the natural environment.”The fees should also help control the inflow of tourists to scenic areas, Hsieh said.
By Jonathan Chin / Staff writer, with CNAThe Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) are both hoping to win a majority on the New Taipei City Council in the year-end local elections, according to statements from their local chapters. The KMT’s New Taipei City chapter is scheduled today to swear in its new district organization heads and party advisers, but the event is expected to become the party’s first major rally of the year. KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), Deputy New Taipei City Mayor Hou Yu-yi (侯友宜) and former Taipei County commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) are scheduled to attend. The KMT is to begin the nomination process for its city councilor candidates after the Lunar New Year holiday, KMT New Taipei City chapter head Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) said. The DPP’s headquarters in Taipei has taken charge of planning for the New Taipei City elections, the DPP New Taipei City chapter said.
AFP, LAS VEGASVoice-commanded virtual assistants packed into speakers and other devices are to be a “game-changing” trend this year, Consumer Electronics Show (CES) researchers said on Sunday. “That market is not just heating up, it is a wildfire,” Koenig said, while discussing industry trends expected to play out at CES and globally in the coming year. “Compatibility with digital assistants has become table stakes [in the consumer electronics industry],” Koenig said. “We will truly be able to converse with our AI [artificial intelligence] devices,” Rohrbaugh said, while envisioning where ‘smart’ speaker technology was heading. “5G and AI are heralds for the coming data age,” Koenig said.
Shortly after the opening bell yesterday, Largan plunged 6.82 percent, or NT$280, to NT$3,820 from the closing price of NT$4,100 on Friday last week. Largan’s stock price fluctuated during the session and eventually closed at NT$3,930 after a total of 1.17 million shares changed hands, according to data from the Taiwan Stock Exchange. Pu forecast Largan’s stock price to continue underperforming in the near term. Pu said his outlook on Largan would turn positive if there were signs that Largan’s lens composed of seven pieces of plastic was being broadly adopted in the smartphone industry. In related news, Genius Electronics Optical Co (玉晶光), a smaller rival of Largan, yesterday posted revenue of NT$1 billion for last month, the company’s highest monthly record since October 2015.
About half of the plum trees in Renai (仁愛) and Sinyi (信義) townships, the county’s two most popular areas for viewing plum blossoms, are flowering, local observers said. “If a cold spell or cold air mass prevails, the blooming will peak by the middle of the month,” Renai Township Mayor Chiang Tzu-hsin (江子信) said. This year is expected to be one of the best for viewing plum blossoms in Taiwan, he said. Fenggueidou (風櫃斗), Wusonglun (烏松崙), Niouchoukeng (牛稠坑), Waipingding (外坪頂) and Tuchang (土場) are the main areas in Sinyi Township for viewing plum blossoms, he said. If the cold front is upgraded to a strong cold air mass or a cold surge, temperatures in open coastal areas can be expected to drop as low as 7°C between today and Friday, the bureau said.
All product categories picked up except for exports of mineral goods, which contracted 3.5 percent due to weaker demand from South Korea and Hong Kong, Tsai said. Exports of electronic parts and machinery tools soared 20.5 percent and 27.6 percent to US$10.35 billion and US$2.41 billion respectively, driven by demand for high-performance chips, turbo jet engines and metal-processing machines, the ministry’s report showed. Imports last month also made a double-digit advance of 12.2 percent to US$23.38 billion, as local firms acquired more agricultural raw materials and consumer products, Tsai said. For the whole of last year, exports rose 13.2 percent to US$317.39 billion, the best showing in seven years and the second-highest on record, Tsai said. Imports expanded 12.6 percent to 259.5 billion, also the fastest pace of increase in seven years, the report said.
By Wu Po-hsuan / Staff reporterNational Taiwan University (NTU) president-elect Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) yesterday said he would make cultivating academic talent a priority as he outlined his plans. Kuan was elected by a university committee following two rounds of voting; he won on the third ballot by more than one-thirds of votes. The 21 committee members were allowed to cast multiple votes and Kuan won 12 votes in each round of voting. When he was minister, Kuan proposed establishing a pilot free-trade zone where trade barriers and other regulations, such as university education policy, would be lifted. Partnership programs launched by Singaporean, Chinese and Hong Kong universities have seen elite European and US universities setting up branches or launching colleges in partner universities, Kuan said.
By Chen Yu-fu and Sherry Hsiao / Staff reporter, with staff writerThe Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee has questioned the legitimacy of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) alleged request to use its Bank SinoPac account to pay for its Sun Yat-sen Scholarship program. It would be difficult to consider the Sun Yat-sen Scholarship as a legitimate reason under the act, the member said. According to US government documents and sources, the Sun Yat-sen Scholarship is not a simple study-abroad scholarship, but a behind-the-scenes whistle-blowing mission with political “colors,” the member added. People who received a scholarship are called “Sun Yat-sen scholars” inside the KMT, an unnamed source said. Among the more than 100 others are former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who received a scholarship in 1973, and former Examination Yuan president John Kuan (關中).
Staff writerChilisin Electronics Corp (奇力新) saw its revenue increase more than 130 percent last year over the previous year, figures released on Friday showed. Consolidated revenue jumped 133.13 percent year-on-year to NT$12.537 billion (US$424.65 million), the nation’s largest power inductor manufacturer said in a filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE). Chilisin was the third Taiwanese passive components maker to report annual revenue exceeding NT$10 billion, after Yageo Corp (國巨) and Walsin Technology Corp (華新科), TWSE statistics showed. In August it merged with Ferroxcube International Holding BV (飛磁), a maker of ferrite components and accessories. On Wednesday last week, it announced the acquisition of Mag.Layers Scientific-Technics Co Ltd (美磊), the nation’s second-largest inductor maker, via a share-swap transaction worth NT$682.31 million.
4 after posting annual sales totaling US$7.88 billion, down 11 percent from 2016, market information advisory firm IC Insights said on Friday. Smartphone chips are the largest source of sales for the company, accounting for about 60 percent of total sales. US-based designer Qualcomm Inc retained its title as the world’s largest IC designer, with US$17.08 billion in sales, up 11 percent from a year earlier, IC Insights said. Singapore-headquartered Broadcom Ltd came in second, generating US$16.07 billion in sales, up 16 percent from 2016, ahead of US-based Nvidia Corp, whose sales hit US$9.23 billion, up 44 percent year-on-year, IC Insights said. IC Insights said the global IC design industry had total sales of US$100.61 billion last year, up 11 percent from a year earlier on strong demand for memory chips.
Semiconductor-based laser diodes, which are a major lighting source for 3D sensing, make up the components. Along with stable contribution from radio frequency (RF)-related products, consolidated revenue last month increased 2.58 percent month-on-month to NT$1.94 billion (US$65.71 million), up 79.6 percent from a year earlier, Win Semiconductors said in a statement. The company’s revenue and gross margin would likely benefit from a multi-year 3D sensing demand, given a higher 3D sensing adoption by Android-based smartphones and a better margin prospect after flattening of the learning curve, analysts said. Advanced Wireless Semiconductor registered revenue last month of NT$140 million, its highest in six months, a 18.94 percent increase month-on-month and 0.36 percent year-on-year. In Taipei trading on Friday, Win Semiconductors shares declined 0.16 percent to close at NT$303, while Advanced Wireless Semiconductor shares rose 0.55 percent at NT$73.6 and Visual Photonics shares increased 1.12 percent to NT$99, Taiwan Stock Exchange data showed.
Transactions fell to 182,287 units in 2016, the lowest for any year since record-keeping began in 1991. Overall transactions nationwide also hit a record low of 245,000 units in 2016. The six municipalities account for about 75 percent of the nation’s total residential and commercial property transactions. Real-estate transactions in Taichung showed an 11.88 percent gain with 3,927 deals, while Tainan saw an 8.7 percent increase with 2,040 deals, the data showed. Deals in New Taipei City, Taoyuan and Kaohiung fell between 4.3 percent and 8.8 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.
By Jason Pan / Staff reporterTainan police yesterday announced they had uncovered a telecom fraud ring that had earned millions and arrested three suspects during a recent raid. Tsai Ching-yuan (蔡慶源), deputy leader of criminal investigation section at the Tainan Fifth Police Precinct, identified the suspects as a 32-year-old man surnamed Tseng (曾), a 19-year-old man surnamed Lee (李) and a 21-year-old woman surnamed Hsieh (謝). Hsieh had allegedly admitted to working as a money collector and receiving instructions from Tseng, investigators said. According to the investigators, Hsieh said she had collected more than NT$8 million (US$270,975.2) from automated teller machines (ATMs) in different cities over a two-week period last month, including Taoyuan, Miaoli, Taichung, Yunlin and Tainan. They said she told them she knew she could face jail and have to pay compensation to the ring’s victims if convicted of fraud.
The 3G licenses expire on Dec. 31, meaning that the service will legally terminate next year, commission spokesperson Weng Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said. Four telecom firms offer 3G service — Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone Telecommunications and Taiwan Star — and there are about 22 million 4G users, the commission said. Until Dec. 31, telecoms can apply to offer 4G service on the frequencies that are currently used to provide 3G service to ensure a smooth transition, Weng said. “They can use part of the 4G frequencies to serve their 3G users, depending on their demands for voice communications and their numbers of 3G users,” he said. However, users of 3G might need to change to 4G SIM cards if they want to continue using their 3G cellphones after the telecoms’ licenses expire, he said.
By Su Yung-yao and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter, with staff writerThe Criminal Investigation Bureau has admitted that it handed out 54 malware-infested thumb drives to the public at a data security expo hosted by the Presidential Office from Dec. 11 to Dec. 15 last year. The malware-infected USB sticks were among 250 drives that the bureau gave to the winners of a game about cybersecurity knowledge. Random sampling of the thumb drives, which were sourced from various contractors, failed to discover the malware, it added. National security officials are unhappy that a Presidential Office event was compromised and concerned that the event might have been deliberately targeted by a hacker group, the source said, adding that they have demanded the bureau launch another probe. The bureau has apologized to the Presidential Office and other government agencies that participated in the expo, the source said.