Taipei Financial Center credit outlook downgradedTAIPEI 101: While rental income is robust, the skyscraper has been affected by falling foreign and domestic visitor numbers because of the pandemic, Taiwan Ratings saidBy Crystal Hsu / Staff reporterTaiwan Ratings Corp (中華信評) has downgraded the credit outlook for Taipei Financial Center Corp (台北金融大樓) from “stable” to “negative,” as the operator of the Taipei 101 skyscraper has seen a slump in tourists and shoppers. A message that reads: “Taiwanese pull together as one” with the image of a heart is displayed on Taipei 101 on Thursday last week. Retail sales at the Taipei 101 shopping center are forecast to drop by 31 to 35 percent given the store’s collection of luxury and fashion brands for which consumption is discretionary in nature, it said. The company’s rental income would not be affected by the pandemic, because rental rates are fixed and long-term in nature, it said. In addition, the Taipei 101 building has built up a strong tenant portfolio, mostly high-profile global firms and large domestic companies that can afford above-average rents, it said.
Virus Outbreak: CECC reports a new case from ‘Friendship Flotilla’STEP BY STEP: Asked about the drug remdesivir failing a clinical trial, Chang Shan-chwen said that any conclusions made before firms issue evaluations would be incompleteBy Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporterThe Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported one additional COVID-19 case related to the navy’s “Friendship Flotilla,” bringing the infection cluster to 30 cases. All 30 cases served on the Panshih (磐石), one of the three vessels in the flotilla, which visited Palau from March 12 to 15. The Ministry of National Defense on Thursday released documents showing that the flotilla had sailed through the South China Sea on its return to Taiwan. Executive Vice Chief of the General Staff Hsu Yen-pu points to a flowchart of the military’s disease prevention efforts at a Ministry of National Defense news conference in Taipei yesterday. Authorities have identified 1,843 people who had contact with the 30 cases from the ship, center data showed.
Bluefin tuna weighing 200kg named Yilan’s firstStaff writer, with CNAA bluefin tuna weighing 200kg that was brought to shore on Thursday and announced as Yilan County’s “first bluefin tuna of the season” is to be auctioned today, the Suao Fishermen’s Association said yesterday. A bluefin tuna is unloaded from a boat at Nanfangao Fishing Port in Yilan County’s Suao Township on Thursday. 168 Chuan Chang Lung was first, returning to Nanfangao Port (南方澳港) on Thursday, the association said. The boat’s captain, Lin Yi-chun (林宜俊), said that he was just 1.2kg shy of winning the first Bluefin tuna title for Yilan in the middle of this month, when he returned with a fish that weighed 178.8kg. Yilan’s fishers compete with Pingtung County to register Taiwan’s first bluefin catch of the year, which this year went to a Donggang (東港)-registered boat, which returned with a 254.5kg Bluefin tuna on April 11 that fetched NT$9,000 (US$299) per kilogram, the association said.
We want to get out of Hoping Hospital and we don’t want to wait for death,” one sign read. Banners crying for help are hung from the windows of the locked down Hoping Hospital in April 2003 during the SARS epidemic. The move came after seven hospital staff came down with possible SARS symptoms on April 22. Banners crying for help are hung from the windows of the locked down Hoping Hospital in April 2003 during the SARS epidemic. According to CNN, it took the WHO seven weeks after Taiwan’s first SARS infection and after the Hoping Hospital lockdown to send experts to the nation.
Virus Outbreak: English-language CPBL broadcasts a ray of hope for sports fans amid coronavirusStaff writer, with CNA, LOS ANGELESAs the COVID-19 pandemic shutters sporting events around the world, English-language broadcasts of Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) this week provided a lifeline to deprived sports fans, with veteran US sports commentator Keith Olbermann featuring among them. The stands at the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium are filled with mannequins and cardboard cutouts representing spectators during Friday’s Chinese Professional Baseball League game. Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei TimesHowever, the English-language broadcasts might not extend beyond today. In an interview with Time magazine this week, a CPBL spokesperson said the league was unsure how long the broadcasts would continue. Local media have reported that the league is in talks with international media groups to sell the broadcast rights, which could result in an extension.
Vivian Hsu’s thesis draws criticism‘ARTIST’S TRANSFORMATION’: Although Hsu’s thesis focused on herself, her adviser said that it met the school’s requirements as it was not an academic reportBy Rachel Lin, Lin Nan-ku and Dennis Xie / Staff reporters, with staff writerTaiwanese singer and actress Vivian Hsu (徐若瑄), who in January obtained her master’s degree from Shih Hsin University, has drawn criticism for using herself as the subject of her graduate thesis. Singer-actress Vivian Hsu holds flowers given to her by her husband at a news conference in Taipei on March 19 announcing that she was joining Sony Music. According to the Degree Conferral Act (學業授予法), Vivian Hsu, a working professional in an arts-related field, is qualified to submit as her graduate thesis a technical report that centers on practical applications, Hsu An-chi said in the statement. Conventional theses emphasize innovation of academic theories, so the nature of the two kinds of graduate publications is different, Hsu An-chi said. The university did not comment on the matter, and as of press time yesterday, Vivian Hsu had not responded to requests for comment.
CCSB prepared to make remdesivir if necessaryBy Kao Shih-ching / Staff reporterChunghwa Chemical Synthesis & Biotech Co Ltd (CCSB, 中化合成生技) yesterday said that it is ready to produce remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug being studied as a treatment for COVID-19, if the government determines that it is safe and effective against the novel coronavirus that causes the disease. The company earlier this week completed the synthesis of 4.73g of remdesivir with a purity of 99.72 percent. The synthesis part was not time-consuming, but we spent some time waiting for ingredients from abroad,” CCSB spokesman Eason Wang (王冠傑) told the Taipei Times by telephone. Remdesivir, developed by US-based Gilead Sciences Inc, has shown promising results in fighting the novel coronavirus in an early analysis of overseas studies, Wang said. With a stable supply of ingredients from overseas, CCSB could manufacture 30kg of remdesivir within 12 weeks, which should be enough to treat 30,000 patients, who would each need about 1.1g, he said.
US military plane flies near TaiwanStaff writer, with CNAA US military reconnaissance plane was reported flying close to the nation’s southern airspace yesterday morning, the ninth time US military aircraft have been observed operating near Taiwan this month. A US RC-135U Combat Sent was operating in the South China Sea, according to a flight chart posted on Twitter yesterday by Aircraft Spots, a military tracker. Aircraft Spots charts and government records show that the latest US operation was the ninth since the beginning of this month that a US warplane had been operating near the nation’s airspace. The US plane had its transponder switched on, which exposed the plane to detection by various online aircraft tracking sites, Su added. The move was likely deliberate and intended not only to demonstrate the US military’s muscle in the South China Sea, but also as a form of public diplomacy, Su said.
Han recall vote set for June 6FILING DISMISSED: The Taipei High Administrative Court rejected a request to halt the vote, ruling that campaigners had not ‘jumped the gun’ in collecting signaturesBy Jason Pan / Staff reporter, with CNAA vote to recall Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) is to be held on June 6, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said yesterday after it verified the public endorsements of a recall petition. By law, a recall vote must be held within 60 days of the CEC verifying the petition. Leaders of a campaign to recall Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu hold a mock stamp in front of a giant poster in the shape of a ballot in Kaohsiung yesterday. Meanwhile, the Taipei High Administrative Court yesterday rejected a request by Han supporters to block the recall campaign, although Han’s lawyer, Yeh Ching-yuan (葉慶元), said that he would file an appeal. The team also sought a review of the CEC’s right to proceed with a recall vote against Han.
Grand Hi-Lai cuts staff wages by 18% to surviveTRANSITION PERIOD: The hotel said that it would give those who take unpaid leave a NT$5,000 monthly subsidy, pay for their health insurance and offer interest-free loansBy Crystal Hsu / Staff reporterKaohsiung-based Grand Hi-Lai Hotel (漢來大飯店) has temporarily cut wages for all employees by 18 percent and is encouraging them to take unpaid leave to withstand a slump in business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pay cut, tentatively for three months, would affect all 300 employees, Grand Hi-Lai Hotel general manager Lin Zi-kuan (林子寬) said, adding that occupancy has plunged to less than 20 percent. The Grand Hi-Lai Hotel in Kaohsiung on Tuesday lights up windows in the shape of a smiley face to celebrate Taiwan reporting no new COVID-19 cases. Photo: Chang Chung-i, Taipei TimesHotel officials proposed the measure, which won the support of all staff, Lin said. The Grand Hi-Lai Hotel has also encouraged employees to take unpaid leave, and it would distribute NT$5,000 in monthly subsidies and pay for their health insurance until the hotel can resume normal operations, Lin said.
Regional spacial plans deadline extendedBy Sean Lin / Staff reporterLawmakers yesterday passed an amendment to the Spatial Planning Act (國土計畫法), extending the deadline for local governments to finalize their regional spatial plans and functional zoning plans by a year and two years respectively. A controversial proposal that would have given the Executive Yuan the authority to revise national or regional spatial plans for “major construction projects” was scrapped. Legislative Speaker You Si-kun bangs his gavel to mark the passage of amendments to the Spatial Planning Act at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday. The amendment was passed ahead of an April 30 deadline for local governments to submit their regional spatial plans, to “get local governments off the hook,” the Democratic Progressive Party caucus said on March 13. At that time, eight of 18 local governments had not submitted their regional spatial plans, despite being required to do so, the party’s caucus said.
Virus Outbreak: Universities changing graduation exercisesBy Rachel Lin and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writerUniversities nationwide are changing how they hold graduation ceremonies this year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. National Sun Yat-sen University president Cheng Ying-yao (鄭英耀) yesterday said that the university, due to its proximity to Kaohsiung’s Sizihwan (西子灣), is to hold its graduation ceremony outdoors on the beach. Sixth-graders and teachers from Datong Elementary School in Changhua County’s Shengang Township wear masks as they pose for a graduation photo at the school on Monday. Chinese Culture University said it is spreading graduation over one week, allowing each of its 62 departments to hold their own ceremonies. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that universities are free to hold ceremonies provided they follow the center’s crowd management guidelines, but high-risk events should be delayed or canceled.
Bill passed to increase fine after reporter’s US incidentBy Peng Wan-hsin, Chen yun and Dennis Xie / Staff reporters, with staff writerA plan to increase fines for Taiwanese who work for political organizations in China advanced at the legislature in Taipei yesterday, when a draft amendment to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) passed its first reading. Chang is a Taiwanese-born employee at Shanghai Media Group (上海文化廣播影視集團), a state-owned mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The title and logo of the Mainland Affairs Council are seen on a podium at the council’s Taipei offices in an undated photograph. It is a restriction of people’s right to work, an extremely unwise move in Taiwan, which advocates freedom of speech, Yeh said. Chang, who grew up in Yunlin County and has the chance to ask the US president questions, should be applauded, Hung said.
Virus Outbreak: KMT leaders nationwide call for cash, not couponsBy Lee Ya-wen, Tsai Wen-chu and Dennis Xie / Staff reporters, with staff writer and CNAChinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members across the nation yesterday called on the government to issue cash handouts, not discount coupons, as part of bailout plans to alleviate the effects of COVID-19 on the local economy. KMT members of 22 municipal councils nationwide convened simultaneous news conferences yesterday morning to make the appeal. Countries around the world are issuing cash handouts to boost domestic economies, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) told a news conference at the Taipei City Council, citing the US, which issued coronavirus stimulus checks on Wednesday. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang, center, black mask, attends a news conference with Taipei city councilors in Taipei yesterday. The party is open to discussion if the central government wants the KMT to propose a policy on cash handouts, he added.
April 16, 2020 16:00 UTC
Man takes over family puppet troupe at age 18By Chen Feng-li and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writerWith traditional crafts waning and lacking in successors, 20-year-old Chang Hao-wei (張皓瑋) two years ago decided to forgo university and take over his grandfather’s budaixi, or glove puppetry, troupe. Becoming the head of the troupe at the age of 18, Chang is likely the youngest troupe master in the nation, a position that comes with many duties. Chang Hao-wei operates a traditional glove puppet in Nantou County on March 21. Chang said that he and his troupe have made a name for themselves and are booking more and more performances. Chang said that on March 20, the troupe made a new record when it was contracted to perform for six consecutive days.
April 16, 2020 15:56 UTC