A fire protection expert on Saturday urged the government to raise the standards for fire safety equipment in buildings, after a devastating fire killed 46 people in a combined commercial and residential building in Kaohsiung on Oct. 14. Kaohsiung City Fire Protection Professional Engineers’ Association director-general Yan Shun-fu (嚴順福) said that he was greatly concerned that the implementation of a fire-safety equipment inspection law had already been put off for 26 years. The fire at the Cheng Chung Cheng (城中城) building should serve as a wake-up call to the government to protect people’s lives and property, he said. “There is no administrative committee that would have overseen safety issues at the Cheng Chung Cheng building. The Ministry of the Interior has proposed a draft bill to address the issue, but forming such committees would not be a cure-all for fire-safety,” he said. Public safety must be addressed by professionals who are properly trained and qualified to inspect buildings, he said, adding that experts tasked with the job should be held accountable for their conduct and their licenses should be revoked in cases of negligence. Article 8 of the Fire Services Act (消防法) stipulates that fire-protection equipment engineers and technicians must be certified, but certified individuals are not required to join any organization that would supervise their work, he said. “Under the current law, a negligent inspector would only be subject to a fine, which they could pay and keep operating,” he said. Building safety inspections are reviewed by the Taiwan Architects Association, which conducts reviews and is responsible for administrative oversight of inspections, he said. However, fire-safety inspections are the responsibility of the local fire departments in each county and municipality, he said. “They are supposed to review all inspections, but they are generally understaffed. In Taipei, they only have
‘DISCIPLINE’: The Taiwanese runner finished six days after the winner, but claimed the 25th-best time in the 25-year history of the race at a New York high school
Taiwanese ultramarathon runner Lo Wei-ming (羅維銘) on Saturday finished second among seven runners in a 4,989km road race in New York City, becoming the first Asian to have completed the challenge. Holding the national flag and wearing sandals, Lo was cheered by the crowd as he passed the finish line of the 25th Annual Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, clocking 48 days, 11 hours, 52 minutes and 1 second. “Wei-ming has been a real ambassador for the sport of super-long distance running, as well as for his Taiwan heritage and community,” the organizers said in their 48th daily online update for the event, which started on Sept. 5. Lo finished behind Italy’s Andrea Marcato — who completed the race in 42 days, 17 hours, 38 minutes and 38 seconds, in his second win in a row at the event. Lo’s time ranks 25th in the event’s annals. Lo thanked his supporters and said that the key for finishing the race was the motto of “gratitude, peace, purity and discipline,” which he had learned from the event’s initiator, Indian spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy. Lo said the biggest challenge for him was to face the unknown, but he had learned to maintain a peaceful state of mind. Participants in what the organizers said is the longest road race in the world had to run laps for at least 95.9km every day at a high school in Queens Runners could start every day at 6am and run until midnight, while taking breaks as needed was permitted, the organizers said. Lo said that experienced ultramarathon runners can log 100km per day without problem, but doing so for 52 consecutive days is not easy. It is important to stay disciplined and neither run too much nor too little every day, he said. “I kept a high degree of discipline to manage my performance. I told
The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) is unjustly listing Taoyuan’s Jhongli District (中壢) as the location where the rainwater is the most acidic, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said last week. The statement came in response to Taoyuan City Councilor Pen Chung-hao (彭俊豪), who on Tuesday cited the EPA report, which lists Jhongli for the third consecutive year, and asked what the Taoyuan City Government is doing to improve the city’s air quality. Cheng said that the average concentration of fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) in the city’s air was 13.5 micrograms per cubic meter, which is below Taiwan’s average and serves as evidence of the city government’s success. The EPA operates one acid rain monitoring station in Jhongli, which measured an average pH value of 5.59 in rainwater samples collected from January until August, Cheng said. Meanwhile the Taoyuan Department of Environmental Protection operates seven stations citywide, measuring average pH values of 5.85 in the same period, Cheng said. A separate station at National Central University measured an average pH value of 4.96 last year, Cheng said, adding that he would ask the university whether the station’s location near a highway caused the high acidity reading. Department Director Lu Li-te (呂理德) said that at least 60 percent of the acid rain falling in Jhongli is caused outside the district, for example due to pollution at the coal-fired Linkou Power Plant. Lin Neng-hui (林能暉), a professor in the university’s atmospheric sciences department, said that Jhongli’s rainwater pH values have greatly improved over the past 30 years. Thirty years ago, rainwater pH values were under 4.4, compared with 5.02 in 2019 and 4.96 last year, Lin said, adding that the most recent drop was well within the EPA’s standard margin of error. This demonstrates the success of the city’s policies to control pollution, he said, urging
University graduates this year experienced the longest gap between graduation and employment in nine years, a survey showed yesterday. The poll conducted by jobhunting Web site yes123 showed that graduates waited an average of 2.8 months, or 84 days, following graduation before securing a full-time job. The number was slightly higher than last year’s average of 2.7 months, as well as 2.5 months in 2019. The online survey randomly sampled 1,188 individuals above the age of 20 who are employed full-time. Eighty-one percent of them said they had been subject to a period of trial employment, the study showed. Of those, 70 percent underwent a three-month trial period, 15.6 percent had a one-month trial period and 9.8 percent received a two-week assessment, it showed. The study showed that 60.6 percent completed the trial and were offered a full-time position. Monthly salaries for first-time employees averaged NT$30,660 this year, 0.3 percent lower than the NT$30,749 recorded last year, the survey showed. About 47 percent said that their trial-period salaries were on average 6 percent lower than full-time pay, at NT$28,804, while 53 percent of those who passed their trial period said that employers did not raise their salaries following their promotion to full-time positions, it showed. The survey also sampled companies registered with the site, showing that the resignation rate of new employees was about 31 percent. The top five reasons for resignation were employment responsibilities differing from expectations, parents disapproving of the occupation, inability to handle the designated workload, employers not providing growth opportunities and personal goals not being aligned with those of the company. The survey was conducted between Oct. 6 and Monday last week.
A new zero-contact speech recognition system using artificial intelligence (AI) technology would help medical staff wearing personal protective equipment use computers, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital said on Wednesday. The hospital developed the system in collaboration with Taiwan AI Labs after it had problems dealing with a surge in people seeking services at the hospital during a domestic COVID-19 outbreak that started in May, it said. The hospital realized that staff wearing the protective equipment had problems when performing certain tasks, such as updating people’s medical records, the hospital said. While usually updating the records immediately when attending to a patient, doctors now took notes afterwards, which increased the risk of error, it said. Especially staff at screening stations, who are required to wear protective suits, masks and gloves, found it difficult to accurately type on a keyboard, it added. After hearing of the problems, Taiwan AI Labs reached out to the hospital’s emergency medicine department director, Chiu Yi-min (邱義閔), suggesting a system using AI-based speech recognition technology, the hospital said. The newly installed system would allow staff to make changes to medical files in real time and integrate data from different sources in the hospital’s records, it said. Hospital superintendent Wang Chih-hsi (王植熙) said that the cooperation came at the right time, as the hospital had just started implementing Big Data and AI-based technologies to provide better medical services. The hospital would continue to collaborate with Taiwan AI Labs to train the speech recognition AI, with the aim that the technology understands all relevant details of a dialogue between doctor and patient, Wang said. Hopefully the system can help doctors make diagnoses and assess the severity of patients’ symptoms, he said. Taiwan AI Labs said it has since May invested considerably in COVID-19-related technology, including a social distancing app and a diagnosis software.
SPEAK PLAINLY: With the KMT seeking to capitalize on the Taichung recall, DPP caucus whip Liu Shyh-fang said that the DPP needs to get in front and explain the issues
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members worried about December’s referendum vote after a recall vote on Saturday are calling for more campaigning to avoid another setback. The recall of Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) has sparked concern within the DPP of a snowball effect heading into the referendums on Dec. 18, sources said. On the ballot will be questions related to banning the importation of pork containing traces of the leanness-enhancing additive ractopamine, relocation of a natural gas terminal to protect algal reefs off Taoyuan’s Guanyin District (觀音), activating the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) and holding referendums alongside elections. The DPP earlier this year planned to hold more than 300 explanatory sessions across the nation, but due to a COVID-19 outbreak that began in May and the postponement of the referendum vote from August, they have yet to happen. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is hoping to ride the surge following Chen’s recall, leading to calls within the DPP to meet the challenge head-on as time is running short. Sources said the DPP intends to restart the postponed explanatory sessions to open a public dialogue on the referendum topics. DPP caucus whip Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳) on Saturday said the government is facing a tough battle and needs to tread lightly, as the referendum would represent a vote of confidence on its policy. Suggesting that the government treat the referendum like a general election, she said officials need to come out and explain their positions in plain language. She recommended the DPP bring together experts and organizations to hold discussions with the public, meeting them where they are. DPP caucus secretary-general Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) echoed the call, adding that the party must defend these challenges to the administration if it hopes to prevent the referendums from passing. Meanwhile, KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫),
MODERN ISSUES: Along with urging pet adoption and climate action, new policy guidelines seek to address new technologies, a source in the party said
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is considering adding climate action and animal rights issues to its policy platform for the first time, as it prepares to debate KMT Chairman Eric Chu’s (朱立倫) proposed policy guidelines during its National Congress on Saturday, a source said. Chu, who won the KMT chairperson election on Sept. 25, has proposed new policy guidelines that include animal protection and climate action, the source said. A draft of the guidelines has not yet been publicized, but a party member familiar with it said many of the issues it addresses demonstrate Chu’s commitment to connect the party with society and young people. In a section on social justice, the party for the first time advocates for protecting animals, such as by bolstering law enforcement of illegal animal smuggling and encouraging people to adopt pets instead of buying them from breeders, the person said. The plans can be viewed as extensions of Chu’s policies during his term as New Taipei City mayor from 2010 to 2018, when he called for an end to animal euthanasia, established a task force on animal protection policing and a neuter-vaccinate-return mechanism for stray animals, and encouraged pet stores to set up adoption areas, the person said. The proposed policy guidelines also for the first time address emerging technologies, specifically blockchain applications, which shows that the party is staying abreast of trends, they added. It also calls for more action to address the effects of climate change, asking the government to write climate action into the Constitution and revise the nation’s carbon reduction goals with reference to the EU’s “carbon border” mechanism, the person said. While vice premier from 2009 to 2010, Chu was the first convener of an Executive Yuan committee on energy conservation and carbon reduction, they said. During his campaign for the KMT nomination for last year’s presidential
Former legislator Ju Gau-jeng (朱高正) — who cofounded the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and earned the nickname “Rambo” for his combative personality in the legislature — died aged 67 on Friday, former DPP legislator Lin Cheng-chieh (林正杰) said. “Ju Gau-jeng, a warship for democracy, died some time after 7pm,” Lin wrote on Facebook on Friday evening. “In Taiwan’s democracy movement, Ju Gau-jeng made a significant contribution. Rest in peace, comrade.” Ju died of bowel cancer at Taipei Municipal Wanfang Hospital, Lin said. The disruptions Ju caused in the legislature during his tenure from 1987 to 1999 played a role in forcing the retirement of older legislators who had been in power since the then-ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) moved to Taiwan in 1949, Lin said. Many of those legislators, who reconvened in Taipei in 1950, and others later elected in Taiwan, including Ju, had been serving a first term in the legislature before elections for a second term were held in 1992. Former DPP legislator You Ching (尤清) said he appreciated Ju’s call to form a political party when opposition politicians met at the Grand Hotel Taipei on Sept. 28, 1986. The gathering resulted in the founding of the DPP. Later that year, Ju, who ran as an independent, was elected as a legislator from Yunlin County, where he was born on Oct. 6, 1954. In 1987, he was sworn in. He soon grabbed the nation’s attention, and that of international media, with physical altercations with KMT legislators in the Legislative Yuan, including taking a swing at then-legislative speaker Liu Kwo-tsai (劉闊才), and actions such as jumping onto the podium and knocking down microphones. After his re-election in December 1989, Ju the next year left the DPP due to disagreements over the party’s move toward supporting Taiwanese independence. He created a new party in 1991, which in 1994 merged
Yen Ching-chang (顏慶章): The GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the predecessor to the WTO] was signed on Oct. 30, 1947. In its many drafts, it clearly stated that governments entering under the name “separate customs territory” essentially lack national sovereignty, so when Taiwan applied to enter the GATT on Jan. 1, 1990, it used the name “the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.” Looked at another way, Taiwan had no way to compete with China due to international circumstances at the time, forcing the nation to minimize itself by applying not under its official title, but as a so-called “autonomous entity.” This undeniably minimized our sovereignty, making us suffer within the global trade system ever since. This became most obvious in 1992, when a working group was formed to approve our application, followed by a series of bilateral trade negotiations. During a review meeting, the [GATT] chairman specifically mentioned that Taiwan’s representative throughout its time as an observer and then a full member should be “along the same lines” as that of Hong Kong and Macau. Not only that, but the titles used by Taiwan’s representatives could not have diplomatic connotations. So this entire process essentially showed that, because of the name on our application, we do not have sovereignty and therefore all follow-up meetings and negotiations would continue to trample on our national dignity. NEW WORLD AGREEMENTS When we joined the WTO [in 2002], the attitude in Geneva [Switzerland] toward Taiwan was completely different than the global attitude today. Because we had used the “separate customs territory” name, we were forced to call our delegations “economic and trade offices” in a similar convention to Hong Kong and Macau. All told, apart from the few small countries with which we had diplomatic relations, most nations tried to avoid the subject like the
People take a ride at the Taipei Children’s Amusement Park yesterday.
Dragon dancers yesterday perform during the Taipei Hakka Yimin Festival, praying for the blessings of the Yimin — a group of Hakka volunteers who defended their homeland against bandits during a rebellion in 1786.
NO CHANGE: US officials indicated that the ‘one China’ policy remains in place, while the NATO chief avoided discussing Biden’s comment in an effort to ease tensions
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Friday that the Pentagon would continue to support Taiwan’s military, but he declined to say if US troops would defend the island against China, after US President Joe Biden said there was a US “commitment” to do so. “As we’ve done over multiple administrations, we will continue to help Taiwan with the sorts of capabilities that it needs to defend itself,” Austin said at NATO headquarters. “So we’ll stay focused on those things, and I won’t engage in any hypotheticals with respect to Taiwan,” he told reporters. Biden on Thursday sparked a new firestorm in relations between Washington and Beijing by saying the US had an agreement to help defend Taiwan. At a CNN town hall meeting, Biden was asked whether the US would come to Taiwan’s defense if China invaded. “Yes,” he responded. “We have a commitment to that.” The comment sparked a sharp retort from Beijing, warning that Washington “should act and speak cautiously on the Taiwan issue.” Austin said that the US is committed to the official “one China” policy, in which Washington accepts that Beijing governs China. However, that does not prevent the US from providing aid to Taiwan, including potent military hardware. Asked if Biden’s comments raised the specter of NATO being dragged into a US conflict with China, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg sought to avoid exacerbating the conflict. “I would not speculate about a hypothetical situation,” he said. “I think what is important now is to reduce tensions in the area. If I started to speculate, I think I actually will contribute to the opposite,” he said. “So we should solve all disputes and differences and disagreements in the region by political and diplomatic means.” Shortly after Biden spoke, a White House spokesperson said there was no change in policy, and analysts said it appeared that
DIRECT COMMUNICATION: The bipartisan legislation would, if passed, build ties with Taiwan and prioritize a hotline with China to resolve misunderstandings in a crisis
Two US senators on Wednesday introduced bipartisan legislation that they said is aimed at lowering tensions and reducing the risk of conflict in the Taiwan Strait. The Taiwan Actions Supporting Security by Undertaking Regular Engagements (Taiwan ASSURE) Act, proposed by Democratic Senator Edward Markey and Republican Senator Dan Sullivan, supports dialogue to mitigate misunderstandings and promote transparency, a statement issued on Friday by Markey’s office said. “We must find ways to lower tensions and avoid miscalculation in the Taiwan Strait,” said Markey, who chairs the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The proposed legislation would authorize about US$2 million annually from next year to 2025 for the US Department of State and Department of Defense to support strategic dialogues to be facilitated by independent nonprofit organizations in which participants meet to discuss cross-strait stability issues. The proposed act says that the US should engage regional counterparts in these dialogues to increase strategic awareness among all parties, as well as facilitate US-China dialogues. “Bilateral confidence-building measures and crisis stability dialogues between the United States and the PRC [People’s Republic of China] are important mechanisms for maintaining deterrence and stability across the Taiwan Strait and should be prioritized,” the statement said. The US and China should prioritize the use of a military crisis hotline so leaders of the two countries can communicate directly in order to quickly resolve misunderstanding that could lead to military escalation, the bill says. The legislation would require the US state and defense secretaries to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a partnership between the US National Guard and Taiwan’s Reserve Command, a move that has been welcomed by the Taiwanese government but criticized by China as “playing with fire” and could have the effect of provoking Beijing into taking further military action. The bill would also require the US state and defense
Days after it was banned in China, a Mandarin ballad satirizing nationalistic Chinese Internet users is trending at No. 1 on YouTube in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Fragile (玻璃心), by Taiwan-based Malaysian rapper Namewee (黃明志) and Australian singer Kimberley Chen (陳芳語), offers a tongue-in-cheek apology to “little pink” Internet users, a disparaging term that describes patriotic “keyboard warriors” from China. After racking up more than 9 million views on YouTube, the song reached No. 3 on the site in Malaysia on Thursday, according to Kworb, a Web site that analyzes music data from around the world. It is also the only Chinese-language song on Kworb’s list of music videos trending worldwide on YouTube. The R&B duet, described by Namewee as a “romantic, sweet love song filled with pink,” takes lighthearted aim at young nationalists in China who use the Internet as a battleground for hashing out perceived nationalistic grievances. The music video for Fragile sees Namewee and Chen, decked out in pink clothes and heart-shaped glasses, pleading with easily offended Chinese social media users: “You’re a bad listener, but you can’t stop talking and retaliating. I wonder how I have offended you. You assume the world is your enemy.” The song goes on to say: “You claim that I belong to you. Don’t deny and come home. Can’t lose anything, let you win everything. It’s unreasonable. You urge me to explain to the world, our inseparable relationship, and take care of your heart of glass.” While not explicit, the lyrics are an apparent reference to China’s relationship with Taiwan, as well as Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. Namewee said his inspiration came from his experiences interacting with people online when sharing his music, describing it as fascinating how some would obsess over small details and then amplify them endlessly. A day after the song’s debut,
Claims that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cofounder Chiang Peng-chien (江鵬堅) was once an informant for the government during the Martial Law era were not enough to incriminate Chiang, Transitional Justice Commission member Frank Wang (王增勇) said on Friday. The accusation was made by former DPP chairman Shih Ming-te (施明德), who on Wednesday said that Chiang was trained by and worked as an undercover agent of the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau, which was one of the “eight agencies of secret police and intelligence gathering” during the Martial Law era. Chiang was the DPP’s first chairperson upon its founding in 1986, and later served as a legislator and member of the Control Yuan. He died in December 2000 from pancreatic cancer. Wang on Friday said that while Shih’s claim served as an oral record, it was not enough to determine whether Chiang should posthumously be considered guilty of any crimes. Wang said that the public should be cautious about engaging in a “witch hunt.” “Under the authoritarian government of the past, people were stripped of their right to a fair trial. In today’s democracy, we cannot allow anyone to be found guilty by the court of public opinion,” Wang said. Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) was among a number of DPP politicians who disputed Shih’s accusation. “Chiang has passed away ... People must not try to humiliate him,” Hsieh said in a statement on Wednesday. "No one should tarnish Chiang based on claims made by some people. The accusations could damage Chiang and his place in history. Taking up such hearsay is not respectful to Chiang and his family." The accusation came after DPP Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) last week said that he would leave the party and not seek re-election, after confirming that he was a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) informant in his student days who
SHIFTING BURDEN: Among the three most common causes of death, only the share of pneumonia deaths declined last year, Ministry of the Interior data showed
The life expectancy of people with malignant tumors was 4.02 years shorter than that of the general public last year, Ministry of the Interior data released yesterday showed. Malignant tumors were the leading cause of death in the nation last year, followed by heart diseases, which reduced the average life expectancy by 1.61 years, according to the statistics, which the ministry compiled from Ministry of Health and Welfare data. The average life expectancy was 81.32 years last year, the statistics showed. Malignant tumors have been the leading cause of death for Taiwanese for more than 39 years. Last year, 50,161 people died from the condition, the statistics showed. The share of deaths caused by malignant tumors has been rising for the past four years, the interior ministry said. Last year, 27 percent of deaths were due to the condition, it added. The third-most common cause of death was pneumonia, even though the share of deaths from the condition declined last year for the first time since 2014, the interior ministry said Pneumonia weighed on the average life expectancy by 1.06 years, compared with 1.13 years in 2019. Men were more likely to die from malignant tumors, pneumonia, cerebrovascular disease, accidents, chronic lower respiratory diseases, chronic liver diseases and liver cirrhosis, the statistics showed. Women were more likely to die from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension-related diseases, nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and other kidney diseases, it showed.
POST HOC EXPANSION: People who were ordered to quarantine at home after May 11 can apply for the NT$1,000 per day on the ministry’s Web site
People who had COVID-19 and were ordered to stay at home amid a shortage in hospital beds earlier this year would be eligible for compensation of NT$1,000 per day, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said on Friday, as it had expanded the program formerly targeting only those who were ordered to quarantine in centralized facilities. The program was launched to support contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases and some incoming travelers during their 14-day quarantines, Social Assistance and Social Work Department head Su Chao-ju (蘇昭如) said. After a local COVID-19 outbreak was detected in the middle of May, some people with no or mild symptoms had been ordered to stay at home amid a shortage in beds in hospital isolation wards, Su said. Such cases would also be eligible for compensation, as they could not go to work while isolating at home, she said. The expansion would include two more groups: people who were ordered to stay at home after testing positive in a rapid antigen test, but were confirmed negative in a polymerase chain reaction test, and people undergoing seven-day home isolation after being released from an isolation ward, she said. Those who received isolation orders under those conditions after May 11 can seek compensation through the ministry’s Web Site, she said. Meanwhile, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported seven imported COVID-19 cases, but no domestic cases or deaths. The cases were three Taiwanese who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from the US, Cyprus or Cambodia, and four foreigners — from Malaysia, Indonesia and Mongolia — the center said. Six cases were asymptomatic, while the seventh — a Taiwanese man in his 20s who returned from Cyprus on Wednesday — was placed in hospital quarantine after upon arrival declaring that he had tested positive earlier this month, the CECC said. He reported symptoms, including
A record number of people took the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Hoklo-language exam this year, the ministry said in a news release yesterday. A total of 18,622 people, aged six to 86, tested their proficiency in the language, which is also known as Taiwanese, the ministry said, adding that among the test takers were also Americans, Japanese, Malaysians and South Koreans. This represented a 34 percent increase from last year, it added. Feng Chung-hsing (封中興), an administrator at Tainan’s Haidian Junior High School, said that offering Hoklo courses to seventh and eighth graders has led to significant improvements in graduates’ writing skills. The mother of the youngest examinee, surnamed Tsai, said that Mandarin and Hoklo are used in her family, but her daughter mostly uses Mandarin. Fearing that her daughter might lose touch with her native language, the mother said that she and her husband started telling their child stories in Hoklo and enrolled her in lessons as soon as she was old enough for kindergarten. Public schools provided guidance and materials to help her daughter prepare for the test, the mother said. Lee Ya-lin (李雅玲), 82, is a retired translator who had worked for the Taipei District Court. She said she enrolled in a course as soon as she found out that a local community college offered Hoklo classes. She has been speaking the language all her life, but hopes to achieve a higher level of proficiency, she said. “People are never too old to learn, and I love to learn new things,” she said, adding that although she believes her spoken fluency is high, she had to take the entry-level exam as a first-time test taker. Kim Han-bin, a South Korean national who studies at National Taiwan University, said he used immersion-based methods to learn the language on his own. Kim said he was confident in his proficiency and chose
AT SEVEN SCHOOLS: The program seeks to help retain local talent, as professionals often take up jobs in northern Taiwan, an expert said
Seven Kaohsiung high schools are offering courses in semiconductor and digital technologies with the aim to improve local industry and tentative plans to expand the program citywide if the pilot proves successful. The program — offered in collaboration with National Sun Yat-sen University and the National University of Kaohsiung — aims to improve students’ understanding of critical technologies and help local firms recruit talent, the organizers said at the official launch of the program on Tuesday at Tsoying Senior High School. The first semester has already begun at the seven schools in the city’s Zuoying (左營) and Nanzih (楠梓) districts, said Legislator Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳), who proposed the program. This first group of 200 students is to attend a mixture of remote and in-person classes, along with visits to local businesses, Liu told the gathering via videoconference from the legislature in Taipei. The students are to learn from university professors about semiconductor manufacturing, app creation, vacuum technology and more, the Kaohsiung Education Bureau said. A flexible curriculum is to be adopted for the first year, after which more industry-specific coursework is to be developed, bureau Deputy Director Chen Pei-ju (陳佩汝) said. Through the program, even students at regular schools have the opportunity to take vocational courses, Chen said. If a student shows particular interest in a subject, they would have the chance to enter university through special enrollment, she said. Tsoying Senior High principal Chang Chien Ling-chuan (張簡玲娟) shared her enthusiasm for the program, which she hopes would help students discover their individual aptitudes. Later on, the program could also help the students find work in Kaohsiung, which she called the greatest wish of all parents. Taiwan Export Processing Zone Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association chairman Chou Kuang-chun (周光春) said that local technology parks house 70 companies employing 60,000 people. Many of them produce technologies critical to everyday gadgets such as
Scientists have discovered a new plant indigenous to Taiwan after correcting a previous identification error, the Shei-pa National Park Headquarters said on Friday. The scientists have named the thistle Cirsium taiwanense Y. H. Tseng & Chih Y. Chang, after members of the National Chung Hsing University (NCHU) research team that discovered the flower in collaboration with the national park. The newly classified plant has spider web-like hairs on the back of its leaves and was previously misidentified as a thistle discovered by Japanese botanist Shiro Kitamura, the headquarters said. During its monthly field trips to the park, the research team discovered subtle differences between the local thistle and that described by Kitamura, it said. Consulting Kitamura’s field notes, the team learned that the thistle he discovered has red flowers instead of the local thistle’s yellow ones, but the discrepancy went unnoticed during the original identification because dried botanical samples that had lost their color were used, the headquarters said. Further study revealed that the local thistle has more bracts and flowers than Kitamura’s, and that it has 32 chromosomes compared with Kitamura’s 34, based on which the plant was classified as a formerly unknown species, it said. NCHU professors Chang Chih-yi (張之毅) and Tseng Yen-hsueh (曾彥學) published a study on their findings earlier this year and were credited as the discoverers of the new species, the headquarters said. The local thistle can be found at altitudes of 2,200m to 3,100m along the park’s Syuedong Line (雪東線) path, especially near its entrance at the Crying Slope (哭坡), it said.