Proposed sitting ban splits opinionBy Shelley Shan / Staff reporterA proposal by the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) to permanently ban sitting in Taipei Railway Station’s main hall has received a mixed reaction online, with some social media users vowing to launch a sit-in at the station. A Facebook user organizing the sit-in said that the hall is a public space and there is no legitimate reason to ban sitting on the floor. One social media user, Huang Yi-chung (黃益中), said that he has fond memories of sitting in the station’s main hall. Another social media user, Chen Yen-shuo (陳延碩), said the issue is that there is not much seating within the station. Anyone sitting in the hall would be asked to leave, he said.
Virus Outbreak: No new cases for 12th day, CECC saysBy Lee I-chia / Staff reporterThe Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced no new cases of COVID-19, adding that a ban on mask exports would be lifted soon under three conditions. Yesterday was the 12th consecutive day that no new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Taiwan, and the 37th day of no new domestic cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, center, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), and top health officials cheer for Taiwan’s medical workers after President Tsai Ing-wen visited the CECC in Taipei yesterday. Meanwhile, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) visited the CECC yesterday morning to invite officials to her inauguration ceremony today. She also gave CECC officials “hero noodles” provided by Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲), saying that they are all “heroes” to the public.
Holdovers means new Cabinet looks much like old oneBy Sean Lin / Staff reporterThe new Cabinet lineup announced by the Executive Yuan yesterday features many familiar faces from Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) Cabinet that resigned on Thursday last week. Former Hakka Affairs Council minister Lee Yung-de (李永得) has been given the culture portfolio, while his former deputy minister, Yang Chang-chen (楊長鎮), is to take the top council post, he said. Former representative to Thailand Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) has been named Overseas Community Affairs Council minister, and former Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) deputy minister Huang Tien-mu (黃天牧) is to head the commission, Ting said. Former Executive Yuan senior secretary Huang Chih-ta (黃致達) has been appointed minister without portfolio, he added. The importance that the Executive Yuan attaches to gender equality is not only reflected in the Cabinet, but by its introduction of bills to address the issue, he said.
Presidential Office interfering with press freedom: KMTBy Sherry Hsiao / Staff reporterThe Presidential Office is interfering with press freedom by asking the media not to cite information from files after a suspected cyberattack on the office, Institute of Revolutionary Practice director Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said yesterday. At a news conference at the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) headquarters in Taipei, Lo, who served as deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office during former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, and other KMT members accused the office of trying to suppress the media. “When did the Presidential Office become the media’s superior agency, with the ability to order the media to use or not to use [a document]?” Lo asked. Former Presidential Office deputy secretaries-general Lo Chih-chiang, left, and Hsiao Hsu-tsen, of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), yesterday discuss a suspected cyberattack on the Presidential Office at a news conference at the party’s headquarters in Taipei. That night, the Presidential Office said the documents had been doctored, and asked the media not to quote their contents.
Tsai should push for constitutional reform, NPP saysBy Shelley Shan / Staff reporterPresident Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should launch a series of reforms during her second term, focusing on amending the Constitution and housing issues, the New Power Party (NPP) said yesterday. As Tsai is set to be sworn in this morning for her second term, the party and several experts have made policy proposals on constitutional amendments, judicial reforms, housing issues, the media and technology, NPP members said at a news conference in Taipei. The reforms it is proposing are the promises that Tsai had made before starting her first term, so she should fulfill those promises in her second term, NPP Chairman Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said. New Power Party Chairman Hsu Yung-ming, second left, legislator Chiu Hsien-chih, second right, and others take part in a news conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday on suggested proposals for President Tsai Ing-wen. Housing right advocate Peng Yang-kae (彭揚凱) said Tsai was heading in the right direction when she proposed housing reforms four years ago, but she did not deliver.
Groups rally to urge government subsidy for disabled peopleBy Dennis Xie / Staff writer, with CNARights groups yesterday rallied in front of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, urging the government to issue a monthly subsidy of NT$10,000 to each person with a disability so that they could maintain a normal life amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “The 1.18 million people with disabilities are among the most disadvantaged groups in Taiwan, but are also the most ignored,” said Cheng Long-shui (鄭龍水), a blind rights advocate who was a New Party legislator from 1996 to 2002. Cheng, convener of the Save the Disabled and Disadvantaged in Taiwan Action Coalition, led nearly 50 people with disabilities in the rally. Members of a Taiwanese action alliance for the disabled and disadvantaged petition the Legislative Yuan yesterday, calling on the government to offer a NT$10,000 monthly grant for vulnerable people affected by the COVIT-19 crisis. When the jobs of people with disabilities are affected, their family’s lives would also be affected, Lin said, adding that the demographic should be prioritized in the relief schemes.
Poll finds major lack of knowledge about ConstitutionWHO KNEW? The poll found that 73.6 percent of respondents felt that international confusion over Taiwan’s relationship with China had become a “serious problem,” the group said. Asked whether they were aware that the Constitution called for eventual unification with China, 60.5 percent said no, while 38.2 percent said yes. From left, Trend Survey & Research Co director Wu Shih-chang, Taiwan New Constitution Foundation opinion poll committee convener Li Ming-juinn, foundation executive director Lin Yi-cheng and foundation founder Koo Kwang-ming hold a news conference in Taipei yesterday. If the “status quo” could not be maintained, 76.2 percent said Taiwan should formally declare independence, while 10.9 percent said it should unify with China.
Han apologizes for taking months off to campaign‘CROCODILE TEARS’: The Taiwan Statebuilding Party said the Kaohsiung mayor was only apologizing after a poll revealed that 45% of the city’s residents favored a recallBy Ko Yu-hao and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writerKaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) at a city council session yesterday apologized for taking three months off last year to campaign for January’s presidential election. Han said that he was now prioritizing municipal affairs and was focused primarily on preventing the spread of COVID-19. Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu, front row left, speaks at a Kaohsiung City Council question-and-answer session yesterday. At yesterday’s session, Han said the Kaohsiung City Government would be injecting NT$50 million (US$1.67 million) into the city’s economy to revitalize it, and that a cross-departmental team had been formed to handle the city’s response measures. With regards to the economy, Han reiterated his proposed “Love Ferris wheel” and shopping mall project, and said that it was “regrettable” that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which controls the site proposed for the project, had not yet given its approval.
FSC, central bank agree on OBU ruleCURRENCY BENEFITS: Commission chairman Wellington Koo said that as Taiwanese firms’ registrations might not be approved abroad, they could open accounts hereBy Kao Shih-ching / Staff reporterThe Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) and the central bank reached an agreement allowing local companies to open offshore banking unit (OBU) accounts at domestic banks to borrow foreign currency funds, FSC Chairman Wellington Koo (顧立雄) said yesterday. Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Wellington Koo speaks to reporters after attending a meeting at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday. “Given that Taiwanese companies’ registrations might not be approved abroad, why do we not let them return and open accounts under our supervision?” he said. “Local companies wanted to open OBU accounts to borrow US dollars, as they face many restrictions when applying for US dollar-denominated loans domestically,” the manager said. It would be much more convenient if local companies could directly borrow US dollars through OBU accounts, he said, adding that there would be no foreign exchange risks if companies receive US dollars from foreign clients.
Virus Outbreak: Increase testing, tracing, academics sayRISKS REMAIN: A National Taiwan University vice dean said that before Taiwan can reopen, it must expand testing on at-risk groups and design a contact tracing appBy Lee I-chia / Staff ReporterNational Taiwan University College of Public Health staff yesterday said that Taiwan should increase its COVID-19 testing capacity and implement a digital tracking system before relaxing border control measures. A graph showing COVID-19 infection rate data for New York State is pictured at a news conference held by National Taiwan University College of Public Health in Taipei yesterday. Iceland has the highest testing rate for COVID-19 in the world, with relatively few confirmed cases and deaths, he said. Only health authorities would have access to the data, as user information is anonymized and would be deleted after 21 days, he said. He said that Taiwan should also launch an official digital tracking system, as reopening national borders would increase the risk of imported cases of COVID-19.
TRA mulls permanent station lobby sitting banNOT DISCRIMINATION: The TRA said that it is not targeting Muslims with the ban, but many migrant workers celebrate Eid al-Fitr in the Taipei Railway Station main hallBy Shelley Shan / Staff ReporterThe nation’s largest railway operator yesterday said it is considering making permanent a ban on people sitting on the floor in the main hall of the Taipei Railway Station. During the festival, people often meet inside and around Taipei Railway Station to talk and eat together. The main hall at Taipei Railway Station is pictured on Feb. 29. If migrant workers want to meet and celebrate Eid al-Fitr, they can still gather outside the station, it said. The Expatriate Care Association is to station translators at the Railway Police Bureau’s office to assist in communicating with migrant workers, the TRA added.
NCC’s Chen says premier did not scold himBy Shelley Shan / Staff reporterActing National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairman Chen Yaw-shyang (陳耀祥) yesterday denied that he was scolded by Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) for mismanaging a case involving Taiwan Optical Platform, adding that the commission is an independent agency that is ruled by consensus. At a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee, lawmakers asked Chen about files sent to the media in a suspected cyberattack on the Presidential Office. Acting National Communications Commission Chairman Chen Yaw-shyang attends a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation and Communications Committee in Taipei yesterday. Chen Yaw-shyang also denied that he was instructed to handle any specific news media. Chen Yaw-shyang said that iQiyi and WeTV are from China, so the act applies to them.
County government designs business cards to showcase the best of PingtungBy Lo Hsin-chen and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writerThe Pingtung County Government has begun promoting business card templates for its employees that show off the county’s natural scenery, flora and fauna, and Aboriginal art. The cards would help market the county when officials hand them out on business trips elsewhere, the county government said on Saturday. A person in Pingtung County on Saturday holds up one of the new business card templates issued by the county government, decorated with a stylized representation of the Shan-Chuan Glass Suspension Bridge, with the actual bridge in the background. One official said that they were now “so proud of their business cards” that they were more motivated to hand them out. The use of braille on the cards speaks to this diversity as well, and makes them more accessible, it said.
Academic designs covers for masksBy Hung Jui-chin and Dennis Xie / Staff reporter, with staff writerAn academic has designed fabric covers for masks in a bid to inject fashion and aesthetics into disease prevention efforts. Cho Yen-ting (卓彥廷), an associate professor at National Cheng Kung University’s Institute of Creative Industries Design, created three mask covers, called Bloomsbury Square, Dreamscape and White Palace, under his brand Yen Ting Cho, the university said in a news release on Friday. The first 200 covers produced are to be donated to the university, which has dedicated considerable efforts to disease prevention, Cho said, adding that he hopes the patterns on the covers can cheer people up. National Cheng Kung University president Su Huey-jen, left, and designer Cho Yen-Ting, center, who is also an associate professor at the university, on Friday in Tainan display a fashionable array of masks Cho designed and the university helped produce. His brand has also won international recognition, as his creations can be seen in internationally renowned art museums, such as the Texas-based Nasher Sculpture Center and the Saint Petersburg-based design center of Bulthaup, a German kitchenware brand, it said.
Committee quashes island heritage site petitionFINDING: As Turtle Island no longer has permanent residents, after they were relocated to Toucheng Township in 1974, it does not meet the requirements for a heritage siteBy Lin Ching-lun and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writerA petition to recognize Yilan County’s Turtle Island (Gueishan Island, 龜山島) as a county-level cultural heritage site was turned down by a review committee on Friday. The Yilan County Cultural Affairs Bureau that month visited the island for a preliminary investigation. A boat casts off in Yilan County on Feb. 11, with Turtle Island (Gueishan Island) in the distance. Three years later, the Ministry of National Defense took over Turtle Island and closed it to visitors, installing artillery and building tunnels there. Separately, a Toucheng Township fisheries’ official, Chen Hsiu-nuan (陳秀暖), said that Turtle Island already has certain protections that limit development on the island.