Virus Outbreak: Economic stimulus package expandedTRILLION PROPOSED: The premier said the goal was to keep ‘businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing’By Sean Lin / Staff reporterThe Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment. The NT$150 billion increase in the special budget is to be paid for by increasing national debt by NT$100 billion in the current fiscal year and NT$50 billion in the next, Chu said. Overall, the package is to make up about 5.4 percent of this year’s nominal GDP, he said. The transportation ministry plans to give the nation’s approximately 92,000 taxi and 16,000 tour bus drivers NT$10,000 per month for three months, while the economic ministry would issue a monthly subsidy of NT$10,000 to about 1 million self-employed people for three months, he said. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) approved a draft amendment to the Special Act on COVID-19 Prevention, Relief and Recovery (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例) to accommodate the increase in the special budget.
Older Amis singer records album of traditional songsBy Hua Mang-Ching and Dennis Xie / Staff reporter, with staff writerAn 81-year-old Amis woman has recorded an album of traditional Amis songs in an effort to preserve Amis music. The album, titled Radiw Sanay, meaning “just sing” in Amis, features 18 traditional songs sung by Chien Yen-chun (簡燕春), also known as Osay Hongay, who said that she learned the songs when she was 17 from an elder and is now passing them down to the younger generation. Eighty-one-year-old Amis woman Chien Yen-chun, foreground, sings traditional songs in Hualien County on Saturday last week. Contributors include several young people from the community who conducted field surveys, recorded sounds and organized workshops on traditional Amis songs, she said. Ho Chia-jung (何嘉榮), also known as Kaniw, a 23-year-old who last year moved back to Hualien after graduating from university, learned how to sing traditional songs from Chien in a workshop and contributed to the album.
Taiwan Animal Protection Monitor Network secretary-general Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳) has continued to push the idea, saying the nation urgently needs a dedicated animal protection police force for five reasons: current animal protection officials do not have the authority to obtain search warrants and lack knowledge about animal protection; they do not do shift work, so they cannot promptly deal with cases that occur at night; they do not have judicial authority and cannot arrest people suspected of animal abuse; police officers are already overworked; and even when animal abuse cases are handled by the police, they are ultimately sent to animal protection authorities for follow-up. Chen said they were the responsibility of animal protection officials, but that police would be called in if it is deemed a criminal offense. “Although these animal protection officials are public servants, their lack of power to enforce the law means that people might question their authority,” she said, adding that animal rights groups support the establishment of an animal protection police force. Only officers specialized in animal protection can deal with such issues, he said. The NPA could first train a small number of officers to handle animal abuse cases, and then establish an animal protection police force after they have gained experience, he said.
The lender also plans to offer higher rate cuts for clients affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, CTBC said yesterday. In addition, CTBC would reduce rates on mortgages less than NT$10 million (US$329,946) by 50 basis points and revolving credit rates by 75 basis points, Chiu said. Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank (台北富邦銀行) on Tuesday said it would cut rates on loans by 27 basis points and trim its revolving credit rates by a full percentage point. For clients affected by COVID-19, the lender would offer a reduction of 50 basis points on mortgage loans less than NT$10 million and a cut of 75 basis points on personal loans, it said. After the reductions, its minimums of mortgage interest rates and the rates on personal loans would be lowered to 1.06 percent and 1.20 percent respectively, it added.
To sweep or not to sweepIn the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are being urged to either conduct this weekend’s tomb sweeping activities earlier in smaller groups or online. Nearly 10,000 descendants attended the Yeh family tomb sweeping ceremony at the ancestral shrine in Taoyuan last year. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) set an example on Tuesday by saying that he had already completed his tomb sweeping rituals. After it was launched in January last year, Taichung City’s tomb sweeping Web site only saw 117 worships over the entire year. “Online tomb-sweeping is well-intentioned and does prevent the pandemic from spreading, but it doesn’t meet traditional customs.
Su must apologize: KMT caucusSTRENGTH IN UNITY: The Executive Yuan respects KMT legislators’ viewpoints, but has no comment on calls for the premier to step down, spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka saidBy Sean Lin / Staff reporterThe Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday accused Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of treating the Legislative Yuan with disdain and demanded that he apologize or step down for saying that KMT Legislator Chen Yu-jen (陳玉珍) is unfit for her job. Prior to a question-and-answer session at the legislature on Tuesday, Su was asked by reporters to comment on Chen’s remark on Monday that Taiwan is not a country. The KMT caucus said in a statement that Su should apologize to all legislators or resign, as he has treated the legislature and the Constitution with disdain. Su should be condemned for exploiting the issue of the nation’s title, touching a raw nerve as the nation strives to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the caucus added. The national identification cards of Kinmen County residents show their place of birth as “Fujian Province,” said Chen Yu-jen, who represents the county, adding that Su continually talks about “Taiwan” as if Kinmen residents were orphans.
Guatemala removes duties on bicycles, motorcyclesBy Natasha Li / Staff reporterGuatemala has eliminated duties on Taiwanese exports of bicycles and motorcycles, the Bureau of Foreign Trade said yesterday after a newly amended free-trade agreement between the two nations took effect. Taiwan is Guatemala’s third-largest source of bicycles and 14th-largest source of motorcycles, a bureau official surnamed Chen (陳) told the Taipei Times by telephone, adding that Guatemala previously levied duties of 15 percent and 10 percent on each product respectively. Coffee beans from Guatemala, Taiwan’s biggest source of the product, were already exempt from duties. In the revised agreement, the bureau also lifted duties on roasted chicory and other coffee substitutes. Other Guatemalan imports now also exempt from customs duties include mascarene grass, fruit or nut-bearing trees, shrubs, and bushes, the bureau said.
Chiang targeting young reformersBy Sherry Hsiao / Staff reporterInstead of hating the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), help change it, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said, as he urged young people to join efforts to reform the party. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang is dressed as strategist Zhuge Liang of the Three Kingdoms Period in a screen grab from a video posted on Facebook on Sunday. Photo: Shih Hsiao-kuang, Taipei Times“Even if [the KMT] is a 100-year-old party, it must maintain a young mentality, and understand what young people want and what they want the KMT to do,” Chiang wrote. Chiang said that he would follow through on a proposal he made during his campaign for the party chair earlier this year — to create an advisory group comprised of young KMT members. Chiang plans to preside over the committee, which would meet regularly and serve as the party’s “catalyst for communication with society,” he said.
Judicial Yuan orders adultery interpretationBy Chen Wei-tzu and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writerSenior judges yesterday met to discuss the constitutionality of a law that makes adultery a criminal offense, before being ordered by Judicial Yuan President Hsu Tzong-li (許宗力) to set a date for a constitutional interpretation within the next month. The judges met to discuss Article 239 of the Criminal Code on offenses against marriage and family, after 18 judges had called for a constitutional interpretation of the issue. The Council of Grand Justices hears arguments on whether the nation’s law on adultery is unconstitutional in Taipei yesterday. “Decriminalizing adultery does not mean encouraging people to have affairs, but you cannot deal with the pain and suffering caused by adultery by using the criminal justice system,” he said. There are already sufficient laws to protect the interests of married couples and adultery should be decriminalized, Pong said.
Virus Outbreak: ‘Wuhan pneumonia’ accurate term: SuDISTRUST WARRANTED? These included China’s efforts to “bleach” its image, including having WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus publicly praise its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, and thanking it for buying time for the global community, Tsai said. Premier Su Tseng-chang speaks during a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan yesterday. China has gone to great lengths to demand acclaim for having contained the new virus, but such manipulations always backfire when overdone, Su said. Given its history with China, Taiwan knew how important it was to be cautious when it comes to viral outbreaks and it successfully deployed early preventive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, Su said.
Virus Outbreak: New Taipei City man fined, taken to quarantine centerREPEAT OFFENDER: The man went outside for exercise on Wednesday and then left his home on Saturday with his girlfriend, officials saidBy Hsu Sheng-lun, Tsai Chang-sheng and Dennis Xie / Staff reporters, with staff writerA New Taipei City man has been fined NT$400,000 (US$13,221) and ordered into government quarantine after breaking home quarantine for a second time on Saturday. The 25-year-old man, surnamed Chen (陳) returned to Taiwan on Sunday last week and was ordered to home quarantine until Sunday. A worker from a New Taipei City district office, second left, yesterday delivers a 25-year-old man, surnamed Chen, right, to the city’s quarantine center after he was ordered confined for contravening home quarantine since returning to Taiwan on March 22. Photo: Hsu Sheng-lun, Taipei TimesChen has now been placed in a quarantine center arranged by the district office and health center of the district where he lives, police said. Police warned the public that breaking home quarantine could help spread COVID-19, and offenders would face heavy fines.
Virus Outbreak: Taipei to cover the cost of quarantine stays in hotelsBy Lee I-chia / Staff reporterTaipei residents who stay at hotels in the city during their 14-day mandatory quarantine period are eligible to apply for the city’s NT$7,000 subsidy, with online applications to be launched next week. Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) on Monday said Taipei residents who have COVID-19 Health Declaration and Home Quarantine Notice dated after March 19 and a quarantine hotel receipt for the dates covered by the quarantine period, would be eligible for the subsidy. The Taipei City Government on Sunday told the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) that so many city residents are under home quarantine that about 90 percent of the city’s quarantine hotels are full, she said. Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang, center, speaks at a news conference yesterday. Returning Taiwanese should also be asked to return home in groups every 14 days to avoid putting a strain on the city’s quarantine capacity, Huang said.
Fees, interest give SCSB best profitBy Kao Shih-ching / Staff reporterShanghai Commercial and Savings Bank Ltd (SCSB, 上海商業儲蓄銀行) on Monday reported record-high profit for last year on the back of higher income from fees and interest. Net profit increased 6.9 percent year-on-year to NT$14.66 billion (US$484.6 billion), or earnings per share of NT$3.5, with net fee income rising 19 percent to NT$6.52 billion and net interest income increasing 10 percent to NT$29.94 billion, the bank said. The bank’s Hong Kong operations reported increased lending despite pro-democracy protests, Lin said. SCSB this year expects growth of 10 percent on its loan book, given it has few borrowers in the aviation, hotel and tourism sectors, Lin said. However, low interest rates remain a major concern for profit growth this year, as net interest margin would continue to contract following interest rate cuts by central banks worldwide, he said.
Virus Outbreak: Tourism official demoted over subordinatesBy Shelley Shan / Staff reporterA Tourism Bureau official who ordered two subordinates stationed at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to meet his son was yesterday demoted and given a major demerit, and one of the subordinates was also given a major demerit. The bureau’s Performance Evaluation Committee decided on the punishments after reviewing the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ investigation into the actions of the official, surnamed Lin (林). “It was heartbreaking to know that a five-year-old child contracted the virus because of a Tourism Bureau official’s negligence,” the minister wrote. “We have tracked the whereabouts last week of the bureau official and disinfected the places that he had visited. All Tourism Bureau employees have now been asked to wear masks to work and been moved to work in different offices to avoid cluster infections,” he said.
Virus Outbreak: Taiwan does not need China for WHO, ministry saysBy Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporterTaiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei TimesAsked about Kong’s remarks, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that Taiwan would negotiate for its participation by itself. In related news, Australia is to exchange medical supplies with Taiwan, after Taiwan and the US earlier this month jointly announced that they would enhance cooperation to contain the disease. The foreign ministry helped negotiate the matter and is glad to see Taiwan and Australia boost their bilateral friendship through reciprocal collaboration, Ou said. Japan Airlines said it could help Taiwanese in Tokyo book flights to Taipei, she said.