Gogoro eyes 20% market share through subsidiesBy Lisa Wang / Staff reporterThe government’s new and larger-scale subsidies for scooter replacements would drive electric scooter demand, Gogoro Inc (睿能創意) said yesterday, boosting electric scooter’s market share to about 20 percent this year, from 15 percent last year. The spread of COVID-19 has also helped propel electric scooter sales as people avoid public transportation to prevent contracting the virus, the company said. “The epidemic gave an unexpected boost [to sales],” Gogoro chief marketing executive Chen Yen-yang (陳彥揚) told the Taipei Times at the launch of the Gogoro 3 Delight, a new addition to the Gogoro 3 series. For this year, Gogoro forecasts that about 200,000 new electric scooters would be sold, versus the whole scooter market, totaling 950,000 units. Central and local governments are providing subsidies for riders who replace their old four-stroke scooters with electric scooters or new gas-fueled scooters, starting this year.
Virus Outbreak: Taiwanese elected next head of global med student groupBy Liu Wan-chun / Staff reporterA sixth-year medical student at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan has been elected as the next president of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA). Li is now IFMSA’s regional director for the Asia-Pacific and previously was Federation of Medical Students in Taiwan president. National Cheng Kung University medical student Li Po-chin poses yesterday in Tainan. He and other IMFSA representatives from Taiwan explained to federation members about the government’s disease prevention measures, he said. What the Taiwan’s IMFSA delegation and future medical students need to do is continue to convince the international community of the importance of Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHO, he said.
January take-home pay grew 1.5%, could fall soonBy Crystal Hsu / Staff reporterAverage monthly take-home wages picked up 1.5 percent to NT$42,348 (US$1,405) in January, while total pay, including overtime and perks, grew 8.95 percent to NT$102,561 on the back of Lunar New Year bonuses, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday. The latest wage data have yet to reflect the effects of COVID-19 that have increased the number of people on unpaid leave to more than 2,200 as of Wednesday, it said. Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Deputy Director Pan Ning-hsin attends a news conference yesterday at the department’s offices in Taipei. In January, take-home pay declined to the slowest rate in three years, DGBAS said, attributing it to fewer working days. After adjustments for inflation, real average wages fell 0.29 percent from a year earlier, the agency’s data showed.
Central bank considers virus measuresWATCH LIST FEARS: The central bank said that the US could put Taiwan on its watch list next month, as it meets two of the US’ three currency manipulator factorsBy Crystal Hsu / Staff reporterThe central bank is to consider pre-emptive measures at its policy meeting next week to handle repercussions from the COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Yang Chin-long (楊金龍) told the legislature yesterday. Yang made the statement when asked by lawmakers if he would follow global central banks and lower borrowing costs to support economic growth. Central bank Governor Yang Chin-long yesterday speaks at a meeting at the Legislative Yuan. Taiwan’s GDP growth might slip below 2 percent if world governments fail to contain the outbreak by June, Yang said. A spot on the currency watch list suggests currency intervention on the part of the central bank and could lead to punitive measures from Washington.
Transport safety board urged to join military accident probesBy Shelley Shan / Staff reporterThe Taiwan Transportation Safety Board should be more actively involved in the investigation of accidents related to military aircraft after a second Black Hawk helicopter crash in January, a lawmaker said yesterday at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee. The Jan. 2 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash killed eight military personnel on board, including then-chief of the general staff General Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴). Taiwan Transportation Safety Board Chairman Young Hong-tsu speaks at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday in Taipei. “People across the nation were pained to hear that high-ranking military officials died in the helicopter crash. How can anyone expect the truth behind the crash to surface if the air force was also responsible for conducting the investigation?
Domestic shares plunge 4.33% over COVID-19 scareStaff writer, with CNAThe TAIEX plunged again yesterday after the WHO upgraded the status of the COVID-19 outbreak to a pandemic, ending 471.43 points lower, or 4.33 percent, to close at 10,422.32. Turnover totaled NT$270.063 billion (US$8.96 billion), with 103.778 million shares changing hands. A man stands in front of an electronic display board at a brokerage firm in Taipei yesterday. With the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly worsening in the US and Europe, global stock markets have been overcome by a growing panic. As a result, the domestic market might continue to sink in the short-term, testing 10,000 points, analysts said.
Virus Outbreak: Pandemic designation too late: vice presidentBy Chang Hsuan-che and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writerThe WHO’s designation of COVID-19 as a global pandemic came too late, Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday. Vice President Chen Chien-jen, left, helps plant a sapling yesterday in Taichung to mark Arbor Day. Photo: Chang Hsuan-che, Taipei Times“When you see the number of confirmed patients decreasing and the mortality rate increasing, you should pay attention to how that nation is conducting tests,” Chen said. The number of confirmed cases is related not only to the nation’s population, but also virus test coverage, he said. When fatality rates are included in the equation, nations that limit their calculations to confirmed patients with advanced symptoms will see a higher mortality rate, he said.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs had budgeted NT$2 billion for the coupons, which was raised to NT$2.3 billion after the Ministry of Culture’s plans were included. Photo: CNAAsked by reporters whether the government plans to issue coupons that could be used without having to present proof of a hotel stay, as previous tourism-industry booster coupons linked to hotel and B&B stays did, Kung said that the possibility was under consideration. If additional coupons were to be introduced, the budget would exceed what has been earmarked, he said, although he declined to provide any specifics. Asked when the coupons would be distributed, Kung said when the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) deems it suitable for people to go shopping. Photo: Hung Jui-chin, Taipei TimesLater in the day, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement that its coupons, which would have a face value of NT$200, would not be bound to hotel stays.
Virus Outbreak: Command center issues travel alerts for 26 countriesBy Lee I-chia / Staff reporterThe Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday issued a level 2 “alert” travel notice for eight European and two Middle Eastern countries, as well as a level 1 “watch” notice for 16 other European countries as it confirmed a new case of COVID-19 infection in a Taiwanese woman who on Sunday returned from the UK. The coronavirus outbreak in Europe is getting worse, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. The CECC had already issued a level 3 “warning” travel notice — avoid all nonessential travel — for Italy and a level 2 “alert” notice — practice enhanced precautions — for France, Germany and Spain, he said. Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times“We are issuing a level 2 ‘alert’ travel notice for Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria, effective as of today,” he added. “Also, a level 2 travel notice has been issued for Bahrain and Kuwait in the Middle East, as they have the same level of risk,” he said.
Alleged cannabis grower released after posting bail‘PERSONAL USE’: The suspect said he learned to cultivate cannabis from online sources and purchased equipment online to grow the plants for his personal consumptionBy Jason Pan / Staff reporterA New Taipei City man who was last week detained on allegations of growing cannabis plants and producing dried cannabis products was yesterday released after posting bail of NT$100,000 (US$3,323), officials said. Police found 19 cannabis plants, 400g of dried cannabis leaves and flowers, and a set of equipment and machines for the cultivation, drying and packaging of cannabis products, New Taipei City orosecutor Lee Ping-chi (李秉錡) said. Cannabis plants are pictured yesterday after being seized from an apartment in New Taipei City’s Sindian District. Since last year, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines have opened up for medical marijuana use. Some Green Party members and independent legislative candidates in the Jan. 11 elections had advocated the decriminalization and legalization of medical marijuana.
Team touts fruit fly brain imaging systemsBy Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporterA team of researchers yesterday touted novel imaging systems for observing the dynamics of single neurons in living fruit flies’ brains, hoping to apply the tools to understand human brains. To explore the profound mystery of the human brain, the team started with fruit fly (Drosophila) brains, Chu said. A 3D dynamic image of neuronal activity in the brain of a fruit fly is pictured in an undated photograph. The team also produced a long-wavelength three-photon microscopy enabling whole-brain imaging in a living fruit fly, after they found the penetration depth of conventional two-photon microscopy in fruit fly brain was much less than that in a mouse brain due to their different brain structures, he said. The techniques might improve understanding about neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, in fruit flies and in human brains, Chu added.
Jkopay to expand in Japan despite COVID-19 crisisBy Kao Shih-ching / Staff reporterJkopay Co Ltd (街口支付) plans to continue the expansion of its cross-border mobile payment service in Japan, despite the country’s COVID-19 outbreak, the company said on Tuesday. “We have already developed plans to expand into other Asian countries, but decided to put them on hold due to the virus crisis,” Hu said. Jkopay in January launched its cross-border payment service in Japan by collaborating with several Japanese banks and payment service providers. LINE Biz+ Taiwan Ltd (連加網路) said that it might postpone the launch of its cross-border payment service because of the coronavirus. Partnering with four regional peers in Japan, South Korea and Thailand, the company would soon complete all of the preparatory work, Jeong said.
Virus Outbreak: National athletes can only travel for Olympic qualifiersBy Shelley Shan / Staff reporterAthletes on national teams would be allowed to compete in international events in other countries amid the COVID-19 outbreak only if the events are qualifiers for the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Sports Administration Director General Kao Chin-hsung (高俊雄) said yesterday. Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei TimesThe national gymnastics team is to compete in qualifiers in Japan and Singapore, which have level 2 advisories. “We would first consider sending athletes who have not yet qualified to compete in the Olympic Games to go to qualifiers,” Kao said. “If the games are not Olympic qualifiers, then none of our national team athletes should go.”Thirty-one national athletes in nine sports categories have so far qualified to compete in the Games, the Sports Administration said. The Asian qualifier is the final opportunity for Taiwan’s national baseball team to gain a berth in the Olympics.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin talks to reporters in Taipei yesterday about the economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and government countermeasures. Photo: Lin Ching-hua, Taipei TimesThe ministry would seek opinions and suggestions across these industries to devise a plan to assist businesses facing challenges, he said. The ministry would closely monitor the effects of fluctuating oil prices on Taiwanese industries, he added. With oil prices falling, some hope the ministry would freeze electricity prices at the electricity price review committee meeting next week. Meanwhile, state-run oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油) might adjust downward its weekly prices for domestic gasoline and diesel products by between NT$3.6 and NT$3.8 next week, which would be the largest cut in history based on CPC's floating oil price formula.
Photo: Noah Buchan, Taipei TimesThat’s hilarious. TREK TO KUCAPUNGANETwo of the three remaining residents of Kucapungane, Shikieyan and his wife Kuan Kuei-yin. Photo: Noah Buchan, Taipei TimesBut first, the trek in. Photo: Noah Buchan, Taipei Times“It’s clean,” he says. The only visible hint that this is a Rukai village are the symbols on the side of the homes.