A wooden walkway leads through Changsheng Barracks Green Tunnel in Tainan’s Sinying District. Photo: Steven CrookAround 5km east of Tainan Railway Station (台南火車站), Pingshih Park (平實公園) covers one part of what used to be a sprawling military dependents’ village. On the subject of COVID-19, the former Changsheng Barracks wasn’t crowded, even on a pleasant Sunday afternoon. Photo: Steven CrookFor many visitors, the most interesting trees are the Chinese banyans that form Changsheng Barracks Green Tunnel (長勝營區綠色隧道). A trip to Changsheng Barracks can be combined with a look at Sinying Taisugar Railway Cultural Park (新營鐵道地景公園), also known as Sinying Railway Scenic Park (新營鐵道地景公園).
March 19, 2020 15:56 UTC
China urged to free Lee Ming-cheBy Dennis Xie / Staff writer, with CNAHuman rights groups and lawmakers yesterday demanded China immediately release imprisoned rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲), as they marked the third anniversary of his detention in Guangdong Province. Taiwan has not forgotten Lee, members of the Rescue Lee Ming-che Team told a news conference in Taipei, which included a display about “365 Letters Written to Lee Ming-che” exhibition of letters written by Taiwanese to Lee. Members of the Rescue Lee Ming-che Team and others hold up ribbons a news conference in Taipei yesterday calling on the public not to forget about Lee and urging the Chinese authorities to release him. Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei TimesExhibition curator Wu Ting-chen (吳亭臻) urged the public to write more letters to Lee and urged the Chinese government to release Lee. Covenants Watch chief executive officer Huang Yi-bee (黃怡碧) said her group issued a statement with the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, the International Federation for Human Rights, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights demanding China immediately release Lee and stop retaliating against human rights advocates through forced disappearances and arbitrary arrests.
March 19, 2020 15:56 UTC
How many virus cases does North Korea have? “Since the tone of the reporting is so strong, North Korea probably does have its own patients of the virus,” said Kim Sin-gon, a professor at Korea University’s Department of Internal Medicine in Seoul. North Korea has demonstrated it can stamp out a virus effectively, and the WHO in 2018 praised it for successfully eliminating measles. South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Tuesday that it won’t comment beyond what has been reported in North Korea’s state media about infections. WHO officials say they aren’t aware of any cases though they are planning to send equipment and supplies to North Korea as well.
March 18, 2020 16:00 UTC
Electricity rates to remain unchanged, ministry saysREPAYING THE FUND: Any gains that Taipower makes in the coming six months above its 3 percent legal reserve would go to the energy price stabilization fundBy Natasha Li / Staff reporterElectricity rates would remain unchanged at NT$2.6253 per kilowatt-hour, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday. Electricity rates have not been altered since September 2018 and would be maintained for the next six months until the committee’s next twice-yearly meeting, the ministry said. From left, Ministry of Economic Affairs Bureau of Energy Director-General Yu Cheng-wei, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Tseng Wen-sheng and Taiwan Power Co president Chung Bin-li take part in a news conference in Taipei yesterday. Energy generation costs at state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電), the nation’s largest electricity provider, remain largely unchanged from last year, as coal prices have remained relatively stable, Tseng said. Taipower last year posted pretax losses of NT$14.7 billion due to low electricity rates.
Book review: SANCTUARY: Short Fiction from Queer AsiaRecently published by Hong Kong’s Signal 8 Press, this is an unusual and valuable collection of queer-themed short fiction from writers throughout southeast Asia, including TaiwanBy Breadley Winterton / Contributing reporterThis is extraordinary! Not only do we have Sanctuary, a book of 18 gay short stories in English from East Asia, including Taiwan, but there’s also a companion volume, Intimate Strangers, consisting of 15 gay “creative nonfiction” narratives from the same publisher, Hong Kong’s Signal 8 Press. QUEER FICTIONSANCTUARY: Short Fiction from Queer Asia; edited by Libay Linsangan and Ng Yi-Sheng. Hsu was born in 1977 and is the author of many short stories, including those in Purple Blooms (Ink, 2008). Teatime is a powerful, though muted, story about a married 35-year-old Taipei man who meets another man, much younger than himself, online.
The group is developing a mobile application so that people can see companies’ pollution records, it added. The alliance sifted through Environmental Protection Administration data to identify the top 20 water polluters last year and gave four companies its “Golden Pollution Award” at a news conference in Taipei yesterday. Green Citizens’ Action Alliance members in Taipei yesterday announce the winners of the “Golden Pollution Award” for Taiwan’s worst water polluters. The state-run utility has contravened water pollution control regulations more than 40 times since 2016, he said. Great Wall was fined more than NT$1.27 million for six incidents last year, alliance deputy secretary-general Tseng Hung-wen (曾虹文) said.
The nation’s airlines have experienced financial difficulties, as an increasing number of countries restricting the entry of travelers to combat the pandemic has led to reductions to international flights, he said. It would take at least NT$30 billion to bail out the nation’s six airlines and the ministry would help secure loans to replenish their working capital, he said. This is particularly the case with the China Airlines,” Lin said. The disease prevention subsidy would be used to purchase masks and ear thermometers, as well as to disinfect aircraft, it said. The disease prevention subsidy is capped at NT$4,500 per international or cross-strait flight, and NT$2,500 for domestic flights, it added.
Virus Outbreak: Legislative Yuan teleconferencing system trialedMAKING PREPARATIONS: The system would also be tested during a legislative affairs and two committee meetings as well as a floor session, Lin Chih-chia saidBy Chen Yu-fu and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writerThe Legislative Yuan’s ability to hold sessions remotely — if the COVID-19 outbreak worsens — was tested yesterday as Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) and Secretary-General Lin Chih-chia (林志嘉) held a teleconference. Legislative Yuan Secretary-General Lin Chih-chia, third right, speaks to Legislative Speaker You Si-kun, left on screen, during a test of a teleconferencing system at the legislature in Taipei yesterday. The system would be tested for various situations, beginning with a legislative affairs meeting, followed by a Procedure Committee meeting, a standing committee meeting and ultimately, a full floor session, he said. “We hope not to have to use the system, but we must make what preparations we can,” Lin said. Lin also thanked Microsoft for providing the teleconferencing system and hardware, and for helping testing the system yesterday.
Hou told a news conference that he would strongly advise the city’s borough wardens against traveling abroad until quarantine measures are lifted, but “this is not an administrative order and I can only give moral advice.”The city has 1,032 borough wardens and none of the others has plans to travel abroad, he said. Wayao Borough Warden Lin Chi-fang talks to reporters at Taoyuan International Airport on Tuesday after returning from a trip to Spain and Portugal. The central government should prohibit all Taiwanese from traveling to areas for which a level 3 travel alert has been issued, he said. Taiwanese returning from countries with a level three warning should be screened thoroughly and a 14-day quarantine should be enforced, Hou said earlier during a New Taipei City meeting. Lin Chi-fang (林綺芳), warden for Jhonghe District’s (中和) Wayao Borough left on Tuesday last week with a group of 14 borough residents for Spain and Portugal, a source said.
KMT’s Chiang says he is ‘Taiwanese and Chinese’DUAL IDENTITY: The newly elected KMT chairman said that he was born and raised in Taiwan, but from a cultural and historical viewpoint, he is also ChineseBy Lin Liang-sheng / Staff reporterChinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) on Tuesday said that he is “both Taiwanese and Chinese” at a meeting with former KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱). The KMT is the Republic of China’s (ROC) founding party, Chiang said, adding that for the KMT, China is the ROC. Like Hung, Chiang was elected after the KMT’s defeat in a presidential election, the office said, adding that the two understand the hardships that come with the position. The ROC Constitution is a “one China” Constitution, Hung said. The ROC’s intrinsic territory is clearly stated in the Constitution, Chiang said, adding that as long as it has not been changed with constitutional amendments, it should be followed.
Virus Outbreak: Presidential Office says no need for emergency decreeBy Su Yung-yao, Chen Yun and Jake Chung / Staff reporters, with staff writerThe Presidential Office yesterday declined calls from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) politicians for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to declare a state of emergency over the COVID-19 situation, saying that any contingencies can be addressed by existing legislation. Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang talks to reporters at the Presidential Office Building in Taipei on Sept. 25 last year. The Presidential Office said emergency decrees should only be issued in cases of national emergencies or during a financial tumult that would otherwise lack a legal basis. Under the Constitution, any emergency decree issued by the president must be ratified by the Legislative Yuan, the office said. Since martial law was lifted in 1987, a state of emergency has only be declared once, after the 921 Earthquake in 1999, Chang said.
Judicial Yuan head promoting fake reform, group saysBy Jason Pan / Staff reporterThe Taiwan Jury Association and other legal experts yesterday accused Judicial Yuan President Hsu Tzong-li (許宗力) of promoting “fake judicial reforms” by pushing a “lay judge system” instead of adopting a jury system. They do not trust judges because they believe their judgements are influenced by politics and money — “two major problems that have long plagued Taiwan’s justice system,” Cheng told a news conference in Taipei. Taiwan Jury Association members and other legal experts hold a news conference in Taipei yesterday to call for a jury system instead of the lay judge system proposed by Judicial Yuan President Hsu Tzong-li. They questioned Hsu’s “positive” talk about judicial reforms, which he said have achieved a lot, with public trust in the justice system increasing. He added that “political intervention was very prevalent during the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) authoritarian regime, which meddled in the justice system,” he said.
EVA, China Airlines forecast downturnBy Kao Shih-ching / Staff reporterThe nation’s major airlines predicted that their operations would deteriorate until next quarter after the Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday increased travel advisories for 97 countries to level 3 “warning” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) said that it would not halt its international flights, even though almost all of its destinations were included in the list. EVA, which has five cargo aircraft, would continue to concentrate on its cargo business to offset the declining passenger ticket sales, but it has not considered using passenger jets to transport cargo, Chen said. China Airlines’ board of directors yesterday approved a plan not to distribute any cash dividend this year, after the carrier reported a net loss of NT$1.2 billion (US$39.6 million) for last year. In a statement, the carrier attributed the results to a decreasing number of tourists from China and canceled flights amid protests in Hong Kong.
Virus Outbreak: Travel notice for 20 nations, three US states raisedBy Lee I-chia / Staff reporterThe Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday raised its travel notice for 19 Asian nations, one Eastern European country and three US states to a level 3 “warning,” saying that travelers from those countries would be quarantined at home for 14 days upon arriving in Taiwan. “Responding to the escalating global COVID-19 situation, we are raising the travel notice to a level 3 ‘warning’ — avoid unnecessary travel — for 20 nations and three US states,” he said. He said that although the travel notice takes effect tomorrow, the quarantine measures would begin immediately. Visa-waiver programs would be suspended for countries or areas that have been issued a level 3 travel notice, Chen said, adding that foreign nationals from those places who need to travel to Taiwan must apply for a visa at the nation’s representative offices. The next two weeks is a critical observation period and the center expects the number of confirmed cases to increase, Chen said.
March 17, 2020 15:56 UTC
Far EasTone says 5G profits to take longer than plannedBy Lisa Wang / Staff reporterFar EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信) yesterday said that given heavy 5G spectrum costs, it would take longer than expected to see a positive contribution from 5G services on its balance sheet. Far EasTone originally forecast that 5G services would make a positive contribution one to two years after launch, which is scheduled for the third quarter, Far EasTone president Chee Ching (井琪) said. Far EasTone Telecommunications Co president Chee Ching talks to reporters about the company’s 5G development at a news conference in Taipei yesterday. Far EasTone expects 5G services to boost the company’s average revenue per user mildly this year, Ching said, adding that the effect would magnify next year. Based on the initial construction plan it submitted to the commission for review, Far EasTone plans to build 6,000 5G base stations in the next five years.
March 17, 2020 15:56 UTC