The five-star hotel, part of Hong Kong-based Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, on Wednesday announced that next month it would suspend its guestroom operations and lay off related staff, but that its restaurants would remain open. The Taipei Department of Labor yesterday said the hotel is scheduled to lay off 212 employees on Sunday next week. The Mandarin Oriental Taipei is pictured in Taipei on July 17, 2014, after opening on May 18 that year. Photo: Chen Kuan-pei, Taipei TimesPrior to the announcement, the hotel had informed the department that it had laid off 39 employees. The Ministry of Labor has intervened to protect Mandarin Oriental Taipei’s employees, Lin said.
China approves HK national security legislationAP, BEIJING and WASHINGTONThe Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) yesterday endorsed national security legislation for Hong Kong that has prompted new protests in the territory. People hold up fingers in a gesture endorsing “five demands, not one less” at the Landmark shopping mall in Hong Kong yesterday. “Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as US laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997,” Pompeo said in a statement. Pompeo’s certification came amid calls in the US and elsewhere for Washington and others to react against Beijing imposing its national security legislation on Hong Kong. “China’s decision to impose the new national security law on Hong Kong lies in direct conflict with its international obligations under the principles of the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.
China’s National People’s Congress yesterday passed national security legislation for Hong Kong. Members of civic groups made of Hong Kongers in Taiwan yesterday demonstrate outside the building housing the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei, urging Taiwan’s government to provide more support for Hong Kongers. “The puppeted Hong Kong government, which is run by the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] government under the table, should be the rightful target of such international sanctions instead of resilient and brave Hong Kong,” it said. The plan is to be devised by the Executive Yuan as part of the nation’s efforts to safeguard the democratic values upheld by Hong Kong. “Hong Kong and Taiwan are on the front line of the global alliance in resisting the communist Chinese invasion,” it added.
Kaohsiung stimulus plan sparks rowBy Jason Pan / Staff reporterWecare Kaohsiung founder Aaron Yin (尹立) yesterday filed a complaint against the Kaohsiung City Government for launching a NT$50 million (US$1.67 million) stimulus program to boost consumer spending, which Yin said has contravened the law, as it uses public money to counter a recall vote against Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜). Wecare Kaohsiung founder Aaron Yin, left, and his attorney file a complaint against Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu in Kaohsiung yesterday. Yin accused Han and city officials of using public funds to further Han’s cause. Although the campaign promotes consumer spending, it also works against the recall campaign against Han, he said. Separately yesterday, the KMT at a news briefing accused Wecare Kaohsiung and its coalition of civic groups of vote buying.
“We are deploying additional law enforcement units and upgrading the alert level, with the NPA to deploy 500 officers to Kaohsiung to prepare for the recall vote,” Tsai told lawmakers at the legislature in Taipei. “The NPA and the Kaohsiung Police Department have established a task force led by Kaohsiung prosecutors to coordinate efforts and any investigation,” he said. Photo: Lee Hui-chou, Taipei TimesThe additional officers’ duties would include patrolling polling stations to uphold regulations against filming, violence and other illegal activities, to prevent voter intimidation, Tsai said. I have demanded immediate action if there is any violence by gangsters at polling stations,” Chen said. “Others have said that they are afraid of violence breaking out at polling stations.”“The police chief has ordered a strong law enforcement presence by deploying additional units for the recall vote.
Mandarin Oriental halts guestroom operationsBy Crystal Hsu / Staff reporterLuxury hotel Mandarin Oriental Taipei (文華東方酒店) yesterday announced that it would suspend guestroom operations and lay off related staffers from Monday, as regional border controls and travel restrictions are unlikely to be lifted anytime soon. “Mandarin Oriental Taipei will suspend all guestroom services from June 1 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the hotel said after four months of maintaining normal operations proved unsustainable. Luxury hotel Mandarin Oriental Taipei in Songshan District is pictured on March 14, 2018. Mandarin Oriental Taipei declined to comment on the number of affected workers or occupancy rates amid the pandemic, which has prompted countries in the region to close their borders and crippled tourist arrivals. Occupancy rates are believed to have dropped to an average of 10 percent for hotels in Taipei at the height of the pandemic in February and March.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung announces the plan for the second phase of “disease prevention tourism” at a national travel and tourism congress in Taipei yesterday. Feedback from industry representatives about the tours would also help enhance the quality of domestic tours, he said. The center has approved disease prevention guidelines for domestic tours proposed by the ministry, which companies and schools could use as a reference when they organize trips for employees and graduates, he added. “Businesses could throw in additional bonuses if consumers use vouchers to pay for the tours or other services,” Lin said. Chen said that he endorses the government’s promotion of domestic tourism, because Taiwan is a safe place to travel.
A total of 419 patients have been released from isolation after treatment, said Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). Artist Yen Chen-fa paints a banner portraying five of Taiwan’s principal disease prevention officials in Tainan yesterday. “However, we cannot always remain isolated from the world, so we are promoting the ‘new disease prevention lifestyle’ not to maintain a safe domestic situation, but rather in preparation for the loosening of border controls,” he said. The most important factor when considering whether to loosen border controls is the nation’s preparedness against COVID-19, which depends on how well people practice the new lifestyle, he added. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and related agencies are to conduct random inspections of mask manufacturers to ensure the quality of “Made in Taiwan” masks before they are exported abroad, he added.
Hong Kong Unrest: Hong Kongers immigrate due to ‘political reasons’By Chung Li-hua and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writerAbout 200 Hong Kong protesters have come to Taiwan to immigrate for “political reasons” since June last year, and authorities accepted the applications of about 20 of them, Taiwan Association for Human Rights secretary-general Shih Yi-hsiang (施逸翔) said on Tuesday. The applications were made according to Article 18 of the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例), Shih said. Lin Chun-hung (林俊宏), a Taiwanese lawyer who represents Hong Kong protesters hoping to immigrate to Taiwan, said that residency cases for Hong Kong applicants vary in complexity depending on the method the applicant uses. Cases involving dual citizenship, dependent family members or same-sex couples — which are not legally recognized in Hong Kong — are more complex, he said. The rules must be more clearly defined so that a system can be followed when processing applications from prospective Hong Kong immigrants, he said.
Virus Outbreak: Government stimulus coupon program flawed: KMTBy Sherry Hsiao / Staff reporterA stimulus coupon program proposed by the central government is too little, too late, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Culture and Communications Committee chairwoman Alicia Wang points criticizes the government’s stimulus coupon program in a news conference at the KMT headquarters in Taipei yesterday. Instead, the KMT legislative caucus has proposed giving each person NT$6,000 in cash to stimulate the nation’s economy, she added. The Executive Yuan is expected to announce its plans for the stimulus coupon scheme early next month before officially launching it in July, Wang said. Later yesterday, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) echoed Wang’s remarks at a KMT Central Standing Committee meeting.
Beijing believes that the “one country, two systems” framework no longer applies to Hong Kong, where protests have spiraled out of control, as some people have embraced the Hong Kong identity over the Chinese identity, he said. “Hong Kong is the stage for the opening moves of a new US-China cold war, resulting in Hong Kong truly becoming a part of China, despite suffering greatly,” Wu said. Over time, Hong Kong would once again rebuild itself as an international financial center while remaining depoliticized, he said. China would not stop with Hong Kong and Taiwan would inevitably become the jousting field on which the US-China cold war would take place, Wu said. Taiwan must stand with Hong Kong, “before Hong Kong is free again, we are all Hong Kongers,” he said.
SinoPac expects 12.5-point cut in benchmark rateBy Kao Shih-ching / Staff reporterSinoPac Financial Holdings Co (永豐金控) said that it expects the central bank to cut its benchmark interest rate again by 12.5 basis points next month to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The central bank on March 19 cut its benchmark rate by 25 basis points. SinoPac Financial Holdings Co president Stanley Chu is pictured at an earnings conference in Taipei on March 3. Bank SinoPac (永豐銀行), the profit-making engine of SinoPac Financial, saw its net interest margin rise from 0.98 percent at the end of last year to 1 percent at the end of March, as the bank cut its deposit rates, Bank SinoPac president Eric Chuang (莊銘福) said. Bank SinoPac plans to recruit 1,500 employees this year to improve its momentum, Chu added.
Lawmakers urge ministries to sign more legal assistance agreementsSHORTCOMING: The nation has signed pacts with other nations that cover either criminal or civil matters, but the issues often overlap, DPP Legislator Wang Ting-yu saidBy Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporterLawmakers yesterday urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Ministry of Justice to sign mutual legal assistance pacts with more nations, as Taiwan has signed such agreements with only six countries. It has also inked agreements on the transfer of sentenced criminals with Eswatini, Denmark, the UK and Germany, he said. Legal cooperation pacts should cover criminal and civil affairs, as many legal disputes span both areas, DPP Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said, asking why the treaties only involved one of the areas. The government would strive to make its legal pacts with other countries encompass more areas, Vice Minister of Justice Chang Tou-hui (張斗輝) said. Asked by Wang why there is no legal assistance agreement with Japan, Liang said the Japanese government is considering certain matters about an agreement, while the government is working to negotiate with Tokyo over related issues.
Tsai said that she spoke with Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and they agreed to have the Executive Yuan draw up an action plan. The Mainland Affairs Council would prepare the plan, whose execution would involve coordination between government agencies, Tsai said. Regardless of whether the act is amended, one thing is certain: Taiwan’s determination to take care of Hong Kongers, she said. Asked about Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu’s (吳釗燮) remark that China’s next step could be to use force against Taiwan, Tsai said the current circumstances require close attention. The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) accusation that she was cutting off Hong Kongers was an “incorrect interpretation,” Tsai said.
Virus Outbreak: Taipei urges people to support disabled through workshopsCHANGING LIFESTYLES: Postponed weddings and teleconferencing have led to reduced sales of cakes and lunchboxes made by the sheltered workshopsBy Lee I-chia / Staff reporterThe Taipei City Government yesterday encouraged people to buy from the city’s sheltered workshops, which have suffered significant revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to support people with disabilities. Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang, seated, samples lemon cake during a news conference at Taipei City Hall yesterday encouraging consumers to buy products and services from sheltered workshops. As no new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Taiwan in the past several days, the department urged residents and businesses to support workers at sheltered workshops by purchasing their services or products. The workshops now have two promotional vehicles to take products to businesses for workers to make purchases, it said. Huang said that she always buys birthday cakes from the workshops, as the sales not only support their workers, but are also an expression of recognition that helps them feel honored.