Legislators on Friday passed revisions to the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例) to encourage the reconstruction of aging buildings by offering incentives and streamlining procedures. Amendments to articles 57, 61 and 65 of the act were proposed by the Cabinet in December last year to address buildings that do not meet earthquake resistance standards introduced after the deadly 921 Earthquake that hit central Taiwan on Sept. 21, 1999, the Ministry of the Interior said in a statement. There are more than 36,200 such buildings with six or more floors built before the regulations went into effect in December 1999, the ministry said. The revisions also address properties built with sea sand, which contains higher levels of chloride ions, which accelerates the corrosion of rebar and undermines the safety of a building, it said. The amendments would help resolve issues with urban renewal projects for apartment buildings that have already been approved to be razed, but some owners of units in the buildings refuse to allow the building to be demolished. Before the changes, the local government could step in, but it must then negotiate with the holdouts before any steps could be taken, which could be a long and cumbersome process. Under the revisions, if a building is deemed a threat to public safety because it does not meet earthquake standards or was built with sea sand, local authorities could bypass negotiations and raze a building with the support of a majority of the owners of a building’s units. The amendments do not specify the size of a majority needed to bypass negotiations. Local governments would have the authority to identify unsafe properties built with sea sand, because they have the experience to deal with the issue, the ministry said. The ministry would consult experts and academics to establish regulations on how to classify a building as unsafe when it
The government yesterday warned that Hong Kong’s decision to freeze assets belonging to jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai (黎智英) was a sign to the international community that doing business in the Chinese-controlled territory was becoming increasingly risky. The assets freeze, announced on Friday, includes all shares in his company, Next Digital — the first time a listed firm has been targeted by Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Shortly before the announcement, the Taiwanese arm of Lai’s popular Apple Daily newspaper said it would stop publishing its print version, blaming declining advertising revenue and more difficult business conditions in Hong Kong linked to politics. In a statement, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said that the assets seizure highlighted the threat the new national security legislation posed to Hong Kongers’ property. “It is equivalent to announcing to the international community that Hong Kong’s business risks are increasing,” the council said. “We also once again call on relevant parties to stop suppressing Hong Kong democrats, otherwise they will drift away from popular sentiment,” it added. Hong Kong has been rocked by protests against its Beijing-backed government in the past few years and last year China imposed tough new national security legislation on the territory. China denies that the legislation is aimed at taking away people’s freedoms, and is needed to return law and order to Hong Kong. Lai was sentenced to 14 months in prison for taking part in unauthorized assemblies during pro-democracy protests in 2019.
Taiwan had exported 18,222 tonnes of pineapples this year as of Wednesday, with 61.9 percent sold to Japan, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday, adding that South Korea and the US are also new markets for the fruit. After China suspended imports of Taiwanese pineapples from March, the council has worked to expand other export channels. It aims to export 30,000 tonnes of pineapples this year, Department of International Affairs Director Lin Chia-jung (林家榮) said. As of Wednesday, 18,222 tonnes of pineapples had been exported, including 11,286 tonnes (61.9 percent) sold to Japan, which exceeds the total sold to the country in the past decade, council data showed. The amount exported to Japan is expected to continue rising, Lin said. Japanese produce supplier Farmind last month purchased 3,000 tonnes of Taiwanese pineapples and sent fruit slices to supermarkets and convenience stores across the country, he said. Meanwhile, the council is re-entering the South Korean market after a hiatus of a few years, he said. South Korea used to import pineapples from the Philippines and Indonesia, but recently Seoul has shown a favorable response to Taiwanese pineapples, Lin said. The council would work with some businesses to promote the fruit in South Korea, a prioritized market next year, he added. As Taiwanese golden diamond pineapples are not suitable for long-distance transportation, the council would promote a mango-pineapple hybrid to countries farther away, Lin said, adding that the hybrid would be sold to Japan as well. Some researchers have developed techniques to keep frozen golden diamond pineapples fresh even after they are defrosted, a source familiar with the matter said. Such techniques would allow frozen golden diamond pineapples to be sold to the US next year, which would be another boon for exports, the person said.
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICES: The referendums include two proposed by the KMT to end certain US pork imports and change how referendums are scheduled
The Central Election Commission (CEC) on Friday approved three referendum proposals, bringing to four the number of national referendums to be held in August. The three proposals just added are about the protection of a coastal algal reef, pork imports containing traces of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine and referendum scheduling. Each of the referendum initiatives passed the second hurdle, which requires at least 289,667 endorsement signatures from eligible voters based on the most recent presidential election, the commission said. The vote on the referendums is to take place on Aug. 28, including one initiated by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Wei-chou (林為洲). The No. 18 referendum asks: “Do you agree to a total ban on the importation of pork and related products containing the beta agonist ractopamine?” The No. 19 referendum, initiated by KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), asks: “Do you agree that a referendum should be held on the same day as a national election if the election is scheduled to take place within six months of a proposal to hold a referendum being approved?” The No. 20 referendum was initiated by Rescue Datan’s Algal Reefs Alliance convener Pan Chong-cheng (潘忠政) last year to protect algal reefs off Datan Borough (大潭) in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District (觀音) from the construction of CPC Corp, Taiwan’s (CPC) liquefied natural gas terminal. The referendum asks: “Do you agree that the CPC’s third liquefied natural gas terminal should be relocated from its planned site on the algal reef coast of Datan and its adjacent waters?” In December 2019, the commission approved a referendum initiated by nuclear power proponent Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修). The No. 17 referendum asks: “Do you agree that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be activated for commercial operations?” Proposed referendum initiatives must pass two phases. The first requires the signatures of 0.01 percent of the number of eligible voters in
The military reported 41 confirmed sexual harassment incidents last year, a 52 percent increase over 27 cases reported the previous year, the Ministry of National Defense said in a report to the Legislative Yuan. Reported cases of sexual harassment have been on the rise nearly every year after 2016, the ministry said in a report dated April 30. From 2016 to last year, the military handled 245 sexual harassment allegations, including 157 that were later proven, and 58 that went to trial but did not result in a conviction, the report said. Twenty-six cases were later dropped, and four remain in the legal process, it said. Allegations and convictions rose almost annually from 38 allegations and 24 proven cases in 2016 to 65 allegations and 41 proven cases last year, it said. It indicated in the report that biographical information is available for analysis in 172 cases. Male on female harassment, which accounted for 160 cases, was by far the most prevalent in the military, followed by 11 cases of male on male harassment and one case of female on female harassment. The perpetrator was the victim’s superior in 103 cases and of lower rank in four cases, while 99 of the incidents involved a perpetrator in a leadership position, 63 involved colleagues and 21 involved a person pursuing a relationship with another, the report showed. The victim was a military service member of non-commissioned rank in 75 cases, enlisted rank in 51 cases, a lieutenant or captain in 12 and major or colonel in three. Out of 241 incidents, 184 involved inappropriate touching; 33 involved sending or sharing images without consent or sending unwanted texts; 20 involved humiliating, derogatory or hostile language; and four involved recording a person without their consent. Military sexual harassment is most likely to occur in the office, which accounted for 142 cases, while 25
SUFFICIENT SUPPLY: Taiwan has an abundance of pandemic-related goods in storage, and protocols have been implemented to ensure that the supply chain is not broken
Hordes of customers descended on hypermarkets and supermarkets in Taipei and New Taipei City after the government yesterday raised the COVID-19 alert level for the two municipalities to level 3 until May 28. Earlier in the day, the Central Epidemic Command Center reported 180 new domestically transmitted cases, most of them in Taipei and New Taipei City. Despite the government urging the public to stop hoarding daily necessities, shelves were stripped bare while cashiers were working as fast as they could. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) at a news conference on Friday detailed the government’s inventory of masks, medical-grade isopropyl alcohol and protective clothing, saying that stocks are sufficient. The Centers for Disease Control and Chunghwa Post have 800 million masks in storage, while daily production capacity is 40 million, Su said. Su cited Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor as reporting that it has 570,000 bottles of medical-grade isopropyl alcohol in storage and its daily manufacturing capacity stands at 200,000 bottles. There are 315,000 specialized masks in storage, along with 2.7 million whole-body protection suits, and 13 million isolation gowns, Su added. The nation has an abundance of pandemic-related goods in storage and the public should rest easy, he added. Separately, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) yesterday said that there are two to three times the normal amount of daily necessities and pandemic-related goods on store shelves, and warehouses are well-stocked. A scarcity of goods on the shelves yesterday was due to bulk purchases being made by many people over a short period and store staff simply have not had time to restock the shelves, he said. The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday said that it has initiated emergency protocols to ensure that the supply chain does not break down from the sudden increase in demand. Reserves of agricultural and animal products could last six months, COA Deputy Minister Chen Junne-jih
Restaurants in Taipei and New Taipei City yesterday implemented heightened COVID-19 protocols to protect diners after the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) raised the COVID-19 alert to level 3 for the municipalities. Buffet franchise Feastogether said its chains Eat Together and Fruitful Foods have begun bringing food to the table to reduce unnecessary contact in the dining area. Seven major brands under the franchise now offer takeout through the app Eatogo, it added. Fast-food chain TKK Fried Chicken said it has halted indoor dining at its restaurants in Taipei, New Taipei City and Keelung. TKK venues in department stores require temperature checks, masks and socially distanced seating, while customers must sign in, among other measures, it said. Thai Town Cuisine’s operator, Tai Tong Food & Beverage Group, said it is encouraging customers to order take out meals. The franchise’s venues conduct more than 1,000 sanitation procedures a day and track the source and handling of ingredients, it said. Supreme Salmon said that its chain follows all of the CECC’s recommendations, including sanitizing tables and utensils every 15 minutes, and it has also instituted employee self-care. Meanwhile, Uber Eats endeavors to have zero-contact deliveries and credit payments as the only service option in the Taipei metropolitan area, it said in a statement. These measures would be adopted across Taiwan, and its delivery partners are required to wear masks, verify their health status and sanitize vehicles. The corporation would provide rider geolocation data to authorities if necessary, it added. Foodpanda encourages, but does not require, customers to use zero-contact delivery or credit payment, it said. Delivery drivers would be asked to wear masks, take their body temperature using a company system and clean insulated food bags before and after work, it said.
DISEASE PREVENTION: Police on Friday night conducted sweeps of 4,577 premises such as KTV parlors, hostess bars and nightclubs, and continued checks last night
Police have been sweeping nightclubs, KTV parlors and entertainment premises nationwide following an increase in domestic COVID-19 cases. National Police Agency (NPA) Director-General Chen Ja-chin (陳家欽) has ordered that all city and county-level police departments report to their respective city mayor and county commissioner to plan sweeps of entertainment premises and similar establishments. Several cities, including New Taipei City, Taipei and Taoyuan, have ordered the temporary closure of the “eight major special establishment categories,” which include nightclubs, hostess and karaoke bars, teahouses and saunas. From Friday night through the early hours of yesterday morning, authorities conducted checks on 4,577 premises in major cities and counties — of which 1,363 had already closed for business — and fined 131 premises for contravening disease prevention measures, NPA data showed. In line with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s announcement earlier yesterday that it was raising the COVID-19 alert level for Taipei and New Taipei City to level 3 for two weeks, additional businesses in the municipalities in which people are unable to keep a safe social distance have been asked to shut temporarily. They include fitness centers and gyms, bowling alleys, billiard halls, indoor golf simulator centers, mahjong halls, indoor shrimp fishing halls and amusement centers. Taipei police last night patrolled and conducted spot checks in Xinyi District (信義) and along Linsen N Road, where there are a large number of entertainment premises and nightclubs. Locals reported darkened streets, in contrast with the usual bright neon signs and throngs of people. Police officials said they are working to ensure that businesses that fall under the eight categories are not operating behind closed doors. As of early yesterday evening, most businesses were following the order, officials said. Most precincts carried out similar operations in New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan and other major cities.
Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) on Friday said she is working to guarantee that shipments of the US-made Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrive in Taiwan next month, in light of a mounting number of domestic infections. Hsiao said that as demand for vaccines in Taiwan was initially low, she had been focused on helping to procure vaccines for the country’s diplomatic allies. However, due to the spike in domestic infections, she has been in contact with US vaccine makers to ensure Taiwan’s orders are delivered on time, Hsiao said. There are two COVID-19 vaccines that Taiwan has purchased through US channels: the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has begun arriving in Taiwan, and the Moderna vaccine, which is to arrive next month, she said. Taiwan has signed contracts to purchase 5.05 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, 10 million AstraZeneca doses and 4.76 million doses of unspecified brands through the COVAX program, which has so far allocated 1.02 million AstraZeneca shots to Taiwan. A locally developed vaccine is expected to be available in July. The Central Epidemic Command Center last month said that it expected the Moderna vaccine to arrive this month. To date, Taiwan has taken delivery of 117,000 vaccine doses purchased directly from AstraZeneca, which are to expire on June 15, as well as 199,200 doses of the same brand supplied through COVAX, which are to expire on May 31. As of Thursday, only 151,997 people had received their first AstraZeneca shot, due to concerns over a rare blood clotting side-effect. By Friday 186,149 vaccine doses had been administered, the center said. Hsiao also responded to news this week that Taiwan’s diplomatic ally Honduras was considering opening a trade office in China in a bid to acquire Chinese COVID-19 vaccines. She said the US is aware that several of Taiwan’s allies
The Consumers’ Foundation is opposing plans for locally developed vaccines to bypass phase 3 clinical trials. However, it urged the government to find more sources from which to acquire vaccines and to increase monetary incentives for those willing to be vaccinated. The government’s COVID-19 pandemic prevention policy, while having sustained the nation for the past year and four months is rapidly falling behind that of other nations in terms of vaccinations, the foundation told a news conference in Taipei on Friday. Taiwan’s rates of obtaining vaccines and vaccinating its residents are low, the foundation added. The Central Epidemic Command Center has said that it has purchased nearly 20 million doses from the COVAX program, AstraZeneca and other sources, but to date only about 315,700 doses, or 1.59 percent, have been delivered, it said. The center has said that Taiwan has received 199,200 AstraZeneca vaccine doses from COVAX, which expire on May 31, and 117,000 doses directly from AstraZeneca, which expire on June 15. Taiwan has signed deals to buy 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 5.05 million Moderna doses, and 4.76 million doses of unspecified brands through the COVAX program, which has so far allocated 1.02 million AstraZeneca shots to Taiwan. The foundation said government records show that 129,669, or 41 percent of obtained vaccines, have been administered to the public, adding that those who have received the jab only comprise 0.55 percent of Taiwan’s population. This is a far cry from the 60 to 70 percent inoculation rate needed for herd immunity, the foundation said. It urged local pharmaceutical companies to emulate South Korean companies, which have obtained the rights to manufacture AstraZeneca vaccines. Plans to order 20 million doses of vaccines researched in Taiwan and manufactured by local companies have yet to be realized, as local vaccines are still undergoing phase 2 clinical trials, the foundation said. Moreover,
China Airlines, has canceled all direct flights to Palau until June 8, the airline said on Friday, citing stricter COVID-19 protocols as the main reason. Dozens of customers would be affected by the decision, Travel Agent Association chairman Hsiao Bo-jen (蕭博仁) said. However, Hsiao described the effect as limited, as many customers had already chosen to cancel their trips due to the increasing number of local COVID-19 cases. China Airlines said that flights to Palau were canceled because it had to comply with a government order issued on Monday that requires flight crew to complete a 14 days of quarantine upon their return to Taiwan. Previously, they were only required to quarantine for three days, which was raised to five days earlier this month after a cluster infection broke out involving China Airlines pilots, staff at the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hotel where they were quarantined and their family members. The government further tightened requirements following an increase in domestically transmitted cases in the past few days. China Airlines on Tuesday said that about 10 percent of its cargo services would be affected by the government order. The Taiwan-Palau “travel bubble” program was launched on April 1, but tourism agencies had reported that sales fell short of expectations. Concerns about the upsurge in domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases in northern Taiwan have also affected domestic tourism. Lion Travel Service Co on Friday announced that all group tours scheduled from yesterday to June 8 to Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Keelung and Yilan County were canceled. Customers could opt for other tour packages, postpone their trips or claim a refund, it said.
Students yesterday enter the Taipei venue for the Comprehensive Assessment Program for Junior High School Students. The more than 200,000 participants in the two-day high-school entrance exams are required to wear a mask at all times. The Ministry of Education yesterday announced that although kindergarten, elementary, and junior and senior-high school classes would be allowed next week, students and faculty must wear masks all day on campus except for during meals and physical education classes, during which disease prevention measures must be followed. As of 4pm yesterday, the ministry said that 99 colleges and universities nationwide have said that all courses will be conducted online next week.
Changhua Mayor Lin Shih-hsien, front row, sixth right, and city borough wardens yesterday hold signs and banners in front of the Changhua City Government building, urging Taiwan Water Corp to balance the water distribution in the area, instead of prioritizing neighboring Taichung amid the worst water shortage in more than 50 years. Taiwan Water has since promised to increase the supply from Wednesday next week, but asked people to continue saving water.
LONELY SEASON: With basketball championships already under way without fans, the P.League+ said that it stands to lose nearly NT$10 million per game
Sports leagues have lost money playing without fans to comply with Central Epidemic Command Center restrictions on large gatherings, with the Super Basketball League (SBL) and its rival P.League+ especially affected during their championship series. Surges in local COVID-19 infections have prompted the center to impose new prevention measures until June 8, which include restricting outdoor gatherings and crowds at sporting events to fewer than 500 people and indoor gatherings to fewer than 100. Following meetings by baseball teams and league officials, the CPBL said that its baseball games would be played in empty ballparks, without fans, while the basketball leagues on Wednesday also said they would hold post-season games without spectators. The restrictions are a blow to league finances, especially for the SBL and P.League+, as their championship finals are under way, leaving them unable to earn revenue from ticket sales. P.League+ commissioner Chen Chien-chou (陳建州) said that the first two games of the finals were at capacity with 7,000 people attending at Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium, with total revenue of NT$17.2 million (US$614,023) from NT$14 million in ticket sales and NT$3.2 million from merchandise. Starting with Thursday’s Game 3, the league and teams will lose nearly NT$10 million in revenue per game, Chen said. CPBL officials said that each of the five teams have about 10 home games through June 8, and based on ballpark figures this season, they estimate ticket sale losses of NT$15 million per game. The Formosa Taishin Dreamers are to try to even up the P.League+ final series today, again hosting the game at the Changhua County Stadium, but would have no home crowd to cheer them on. In Game 3, the Fubon Braves took a 2-1 lead in the series, in a hard-fought overtime win against the Dreamers. The SBL championship finals start today, with Taiwan Beer taking on the Yulon Dinos,
As COVID-19 cases mount, rapid COVID-19 screening tests are needed to eliminate diagnosis delays and keep people who might have the disease from infecting others while waiting for test results, Taiwanese medical experts said yesterday. Hwang Kao-pin (黃高彬), deputy director of China Medical University Hospital’s infection control center, said that rapid testing kits can deliver results in about 15 minutes with more than 90 percent accuracy. The kits can accelerate the diagnosis of anybody potentially infected by COVID-19 and help isolate threats as quickly as possible, Hwang said. His remarks came after Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that the city would set up four rapid COVID-19 test stations in the city’s Wanhua District (萬華) due to the emergence of cluster infections there. As Wanhua is a densely populated area, the rapid test kits’ ability to quickly contain a threat is particularly important, Hwang said. Shih Shin-ru (施信如), director of Chang Gung University’s Research Center for Emerging Viral Infections, added that Taiwan has reached a point where the rapid tests must be widely adopted as part of its epidemic prevention efforts. “This basically means that the epidemic situation [in Taiwan] has heightened,” she said. Unlike polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which look for traces of SARS-CoV-2’s genetic material in a patient’s mucus, the rapid testers detect proteins expressed by the virus, she said. Although the rapid test is not as accurate as a PCR test, if an individual tests positive for COVID-19, it means that the person can generally be considered to have the disease, she added. When a person tests positive with a rapid test, it means that a high viral load has been detected and that quarantine measures must be carried out immediately, after which a PCR test can be conducted just to be certain, Shih said. Liu Hui-chi
KEEPING THE BALANCE: Feeding wild animals in Taipei’s parks has led to a rise in non-native species, while the feeding of squirrels has harmed park trees, the city said
Feeding wild animals in Taipei’s parks would be prohibited from June 1, with offenders to face fines of NT$1,200 to NT$6,000, the Taipei City Government said. The frequent feeding of squirrels and pigeons has disrupted the ecological balance and food chain in the city’s parks, but many people continue to feed them even after being asked to stop, the Taipei Parks and Street Lights Office said. The firefly restoration ecological pond in Taipei’s Daan Forest Park is being invaded by an exotic species, the many-rayed sailfin sucker catfish, while Neihu District’s (內湖) Bihu Park is being invaded by the invasive marbled crayfish, causing ecological balance issues, the office said. Taipei Youth Park Management Office Director Wang Shu-ya (王淑雅) said that people often feed squirrels in Daan Forest Park, and the squirrels have become accustomed to eating human food, which can affect their digestive systems. The squirrels also become less willing to find their own food, leading some to strip the bark from trees to eat, which can cause fungal infections in the tree, she said. Sometimes, park security guards are scolded by people they tell to stop feeding squirrels, she added. Another problem is photographers putting food out to lure wild birds into the open to get a shot of them, the Parks and Street Lights Office said. Although feeding wild animals was not prohibited, park security usually try to persuade people to stop when they see it occur, it said. However, the office is to start making announcements and giving out flyers urging people to stop feeding wild animals in parks, it said, adding that borough offices and related agencies would be informed of the policy. Starting from June 1, people who feed wild animals in the city’s parks and refuse to stop after being asked to by park security will face fines from NT$1,200 to NT$6,000, the
Daytime temperatures yesterday rose above 38°C in three areas in the south, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said. Due to thin cloud cover and a high pressure system, the mercury in Tainan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung County rose above 38°C, the bureau said. In Kaohsiung’s Neimen District (內門), 40.3°C was recorded at 12:20pm, while 39.8°C was recorded in Pingtung’s Chunrih Township (春日) at 2:10pm and 39°C was measured in Tainan’s Beiliao (北寮) at noon, the CWB said. For Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Pingtung and Nantou counties, the bureau issued a “red” warning, the highest in its three-level heat advisory system, which means that temperatures of at least 38°C would continue for three consecutive days. In Chiayi City, 36.9°C was recorded at 11:20am. The bureau issued an “orange” heat warning there, indicating that temperatures could rise above 36°C for three consecutive days or reach a high of 38°C. Daytime highs of 31°C were recorded in western areas of Taiwan and 35°C to 36°C in the east, it said, adding that hot, sunny weather is expected to continue until Friday next week. Daniel Wu (吳德榮), a former CWB Weather Forecast Center director who is an adjunct associate professor of atmospheric sciences at National Central University, said that a weather front is likely to approach next week, bringing some moisture to Taiwan, but temperatures would remain high, and only Taipei would experience a slight drop in temperatures.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a life sentence handed down to an Israeli-American for the 2018 murder and dismemberment of a Canadian citizen on the banks of the Sindian River (新店溪). The court dismissed Oren Shlomo Mayer’s appeal and concluded that there was nothing objectionable in the High Court’s ruling in January, which upheld the New Taipei City District Court’s conviction of Mayer and three others last year in connection with the murder. According to the verdict, Mayer, who has dual citizenship in Israel and the US, killed Canadian Sanjay Ryan Ramgahan because he suspected that Ramgahan had informed police about an illicit drug trade in which he and the three accomplices were involved. In August 2018, Mayer met Ramgahan at a riverside park in New Taipei City’s Yonghe District (永和), where they were later joined by one of the accomplices, American Ewart Bent, it said. American Jason Hobbie and Taiwanese-Canadian Wu Hsuan (吳宣) set off fireworks on the opposite side of the river to distract Ramgahan, while also acting as lookouts, it said. Mayer and Bent took turns strangling Ramgahan with a chainsaw chain before Mayer cut his throat with a machete. Mayer and Bent dismembered his body and disposed of the body parts and tools in the Sindian River, the court said. Ramgahan’s body parts were found in a riverside park under Zhongzheng Bridge in Yonghe on Aug. 22, 2018. Mayer fled Taiwan but was found two weeks later in the Philippines, from where he was extradited, while the others were arrested later that year. In February 2020, the district court found all four guilty, sentencing Mayer to life in prison and Bent to 12 years and six months in jail. Hobbie and Wu were sentenced to 18 months and six months in jail respectively for aiding in the crime. The three filed appeals against the
POWER TRIP: The KMT questioned whether Thursday’s power outage was caused by a problem with the distribution network, as the government said, or by power generation
Branding the government’s energy policy as “problematic,” the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday demanded the resignation of Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) to take responsibility for wide-ranging power outages on Thursday. The outages affected 8.46 million customers, Taiwan Power Co said, adding that a short-term rolling blackout was initiated across the country as an emergency measure after four generators tripped at the Singda Power Plant in Kaohsiung. As the power plant’s operating reserves were at about 10 percent at the time, the nation should have had enough power on Thursday even if the plant’s generators were idle, KMT Culture and Communications Committee deputy director-general Huang Tzu-che (黃子哲) said. Instead, the power plant, which provides only 3.8 percent of the nation’s power, caused a rolling blackout across the nation, he said. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) or Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) must clarify what happened, he added. The Tsai administration has set a goal turning Taiwan into a “nuclear-free homeland” by 2025, but coal-fired power still accounted for 45.02 percent of total power supply last year, only 0.36 percent lower compared with the administration of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) from 2008 to 2016, while green energy increased by only 1.4 percent, Huang said. Thermal power, which reached 80.64 percent during Ma’s administration, increased to 82.24 percent last year, Huang said, adding that the numbers indicate the country is suffering from insufficient power generation. Citing a power outage on Aug. 15, 2017, Cheng Chao-hsin (鄭照新), another committee deputy director-general, said the Tsai administration at the time had also claimed that it was not a problem with power generation, but the distribution network. Four years later, the distribution network has not been improved, and there is no reason for Wang to remain in office when then-minister of economic affairs Lee Chih-kung (李世光) had to resign over
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has failed to protect public health, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday, citing a survey suggesting that people are unhappy with the government’s pork and COVID-19 vaccine policies. In a survey commissioned by the party that was conducted by TVBS Media, 69.6 percent of respondents said they disapproved of importing pork products containing ractopamine residue, including 46.6 percent who “strongly disapproved” of the policy, KMT Culture and Communications Committee chairwoman Alicia Wang (王育敏) told a news conference in Taipei. A closer look at the data shows that 44.7 percent of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters and 68.5 percent of independents disapproved of the policy, Wang added. The survey also showed that 71.8 percent of the public are worried they might not be able to tell if imported pork contains ractopamine, she said. These included 50.4 percent of DPP supporters and 69.6 percent of independents, she added. The poll suggested that 61.4 percent of the public is likely to vote in the referendums on Aug. 28, including 39.4 percent who said they were certain to vote, while 22.7 percent said they would not vote, she said. The four issues that are to be put to a vote are whether imports of pork containing ractopamine should be banned, whether the site of a planned liquefied natural gas terminal should be changed to protect algal reefs, whether referendums should be held on the same date as general elections and whether construction of the mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be revived. The survey also showed that 54.1 percent of the public is not confident the government would be able to secure enough vaccines for everyone, an increase from about 39 percent in March, she said. In response, DPP spokeswoman Yen Juo-fang (顏若芳) said the KMT should encourage its supporters to get vaccinated. Citing a DPP