A shipment of bananas that was rejected by Japan early this month might have been contaminated by nearby fields, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday. Japan Customs had destroyed the shipment of 450 crates of bananas after tests showed that the fruit contained 0.02 parts per million (ppm) of Decis, an insecticide better known as Dimiening (第滅寧) in Taiwan, COA Deputy Minister Chen Junne-jih (陳駿季) told a news conference. The Japanese legal standard is that no residue of the substance should be detected, Chen said, adding that Japanese instruments can detect up to 0.01ppm of residue. As the local standard for Decis residue is 0.2ppm, the council believes that the shipment to Japan might have been exposed to insecticide residues from neighboring fields, he added. Since the tests revealed only a small amount of the substance, the council is confident that Japan would not increase testing protocols on imports of Taiwanese bananas, he said, urging farmers not to worry. Taiwanese bananas are already under heightened scrutiny in Japan after a 750-crate shipment last month was found to contain 0.12ppm of Pyraclostrobin, or six times over the legal limit. Pyraclostrobin is a fungicide used to treat plant anthrax, among other conditions. That prompted Japan Customs to raise the banana testing protocol from level one to level two. This means 30 percent of the fruit is tested per shipment, instead of the previous 3 to 5 percent per shipment, Chen said. Should the Japanese invoke “level three” food safety protocols, 100 percent of each banana shipment would be tested for chemical residues, which would significantly affect the trade because it would take longer to clear customs, he said. To avoid this scenario, the council has enhanced the regulation and inspection of fruit farms exporting to Japan and provided vital assistance to ensure product quality, he said. The council
INTERNATIONAL WEED DAY: Advocates are to hold a demonstration to push for the decriminalization of marijuana and allowing its use for treatment of certain conditions
It is time for Taiwanese society to examine the medical benefits of cannabis, in line with the international trend to lift restrictions on and decriminalize the use of marijuana, two legislators said yesterday, ahead of tomorrow’s “Rally for Equal Rights for Cannabis” in Taipei. Taiwan is one of a few countries holding a “420 International Weed Day” event — which usually takes place around the April 20 weekend — as most nations have canceled it this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said organizer Green Sensation, which is composed of doctors, lawyers and entertainers, among others. The group released a statement listing three demands: stop stigmatizing cannabis consumption; raise the allowable limit of total tetrahydrocannabinol in hemp from 0.001 percent to the same level as the US at 0.3 percent; and conform to the global trend, with the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in December last year removing cannabis from the global narcotic drugs list. The cannabis issue deserves wider discussion in society and lawmakers should sit down for a closer examination of scientific studies and reports on the use of cannabis as medication or for treatment of certain conditions, independent Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) told the Taipei Times. “Advocates in Taiwan are looking catch up with the global community on the decriminalization and medical use of cannabis, but the judicial system still restricts it and classifies it as an illegal drug. Any change will have to start with members of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee initiating amendments,” Lim said. Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) also urged lawmakers to review reports and scientific evidence on the benefits of medical cannabis and push for its decriminalization. However, it would be a long process due to opposition from some sectors and its current listing as a Category 2 narcotic
A European digital art festival is exhibiting 15 artworks by National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) students, the only one in Asia to receive an invitation. Recto VRso, an international festival held during the Laval Virtual exhibition in Laval, France, aims to promote works of art “related to interactive and immersive art between the real and the virtual.” The theme of this year’s show, “Virtual Exhibition / Real Exhibition,” seeks to explore the evolving ways spectators interact with art through the digital world, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students at the university’s College of Arts and Interdisciplinary Program of Technology and Art were invited to set up a digital booth in the “Laval Virtual World” alongside other universities from France, Canada and Australia. NTHU invited Chen Chu-yin (陳珠櫻), a professor at Paris 8 University’s Department of Arts and Technologies of Imagery, to return to Taiwan and advise 20 undergraduate and graduate students in preparing the work. “The pandemic has restricted movement, but it cannot block artists’ creativity,” Chen said. “In the virtual world, imagination and creativity are exploding faster than ever.” Student Huang Chi-hung (黃紀虹) said that her piece, Digital Creatures (數位生物), brings to life robot-like beings from her imagination that jump out of an electrical socket. Viewers can see the figures through augmented reality using a tablet or smartphone. Another student, Lin Tzu-yan (林子妍), created a miniature building with QR codes in the place of windows. Scanning the codes leads to clues into the inner life of the building, from piano music to a succulent garden, news playing on a television or people fighting in an alley. The 15 digital artworks are on display in the second gallery of NHCUE Art Space on NTHU’s Nanda Campus in Hsinchu until May 1. The “virtual” part of the Recto VRso festival began on Wednesday and is to close today. The “physical” part, in
HARSH? While the eight-year sentence was longer than the one sought by prosecutors, the mother of the victim said it cannot return her daughter’s life
The Seoul Central District Court on Wednesday sentenced a drunk driver who struck and killed a Taiwanese student to eight years in prison, two years longer than prosecutors sought in a decision that South Korean media called rare. Doctoral student Elaine Tseng (曾以琳), 28, was on her way home from a professor’s residence in Seoul on Nov. 6 last year when she was killed by a drunk driver after he ran a red light at a pedestrian crossing. Prosecutors were seeking a six-year sentence for the 52-year-old driver, surnamed Kim, which is longer than usual for similar drunk driving cases in South Korea. However, the court on Wednesday handed down an even harsher sentence, which Yonhap news agency said was even more unusual. The court said it based its decision on the driver’s record, as he already had two drunk driving convictions, and that he killed a pedestrian who was following traffic rules after he ran a red light. It also considered the defendant’s hiring of a local lawyer to handle compensation, it added. Although he pled guilty, Kim had requested leniency, saying he could not see Tseng crossing the road because the contact lens in his left eye had slipped out of place and he could not wear one in his right eye due to a recent surgery. However, the court said it made the defendant’s actions even more deserving of condemnation, as it should have made him more careful when driving. Even though the sentence was harsher than expected, Tseng’s friends told Yonhap that it is still a far cry from the maximum life sentence afforded under the law. Only by strengthening penalties could drunk driving be stopped, Tseng’s lawyer told the news agency. “How can eight years take the place of 28?” Tseng’s mother, Shih Yu-ching (石宇慶), told reporters, saying that a ruling cannot return her daughter’s
‘MINIMAL RISK’: Chinese military activity near the Nanpeng Islands in the South China Sea was not designated ‘exercises,’ a national defense official said
No air defense missile systems had been activated before a US delegation arrived in Taipei on Wednesday, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday. The delegation is comprised of former US senator Chris Dodd, former US deputy secretaries of state Richard Armitage and James Steinberg, and US Department of State Taiwan Coordination Office Director Dan Biers. On the day of the delegation’s arrival, China’s Maritime Safety Administration announced a six-day live-fire military exercise, conducted daily from 8am to 6pm, near the Nanpeng Islands (南澎列島) in the South China Sea. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) said that the exercise is a “necessity” to prevent collusion between Taiwan and the US, while Taiwan’s water shortage had been caused by arms purchases from the US. TAO spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said that the “unofficial” visit of the US delegation was a sham, adding that China is categorically against any sort of Taiwan-US interaction. “Interactions between Taiwan and the US cannot change the fact that Taiwan is a part of China,” Ma said. In Taipei, Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) told reporters ahead of a meeting of the legislative’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee that Taiwan is tracking all Chinese military movements. Chiu denied that the military had put anti-aircraft missile systems and units on alert to ensure the safe arrival of the US delegation. Chiu also disputed China’s comments on Taiwan’s water shortage. Arms purchases from the US do not affect infrastructure funding, he added. Chiu said the statements are efforts to subtly influence the military through cognitive warfare, “but our military will not be affected and will continue its mission — to protect our country.” In response to queries from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Guei-min (李貴敏), Deputy Minister of National Defense Chang Che-ping (張哲平) said that the ministry had not designated Chinese military movements as
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday reiterated that opposition parties have had few opportunities to meet with foreign delegations since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office. The statement came after KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) in a radio interview on Wednesday said that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration has on multiple occasions neglected to arrange meetings for opposition politicians with US delegations and visitors from other nations. No arrangements had been made for KMT members to meet with former US senator Chris Dodd, and former US deputy secretaries of state Richard Armitage and James Steinberg, who have been in Taiwan since Wednesday, Chiang said. DPP spokeswoman Hsieh Pei-fen (謝佩芬) yesterday called on Chiang to apologize for making accusations “without evidence,” saying that KMT Legislator Charles Chen (陳以信) told reporters that he had received an invitation to meet with the delegation. Local media reported that the US delegation was to meet with lawmakers across party lines yesterday afternoon. Chen, who is vice chair of the legislature’s USA Caucus, said after the meeting that he had accepted the invitation from the American Institute in Taiwan in his personal capacity and that he would not be participating on behalf of the KMT. However, at the time of the invitation, he was not aware that the meeting would be attended by important US visitors, Chen said. The nature of the meeting was “completely different” from an exchange with political parties, the KMT said, accusing the DPP of trying to “shift the focus.” During former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, the government tried its best to arrange for foreign guests or delegations to meet with the ruling and opposition parties, as well as relevant think tanks, to help the international community understand different views within Taiwan, the KMT said. Since Tsai took office, visits by foreign guests have largely focused on
‘POLITICAL RESPONSIBILITY’: A mechanism for families affected by a train crash in Hualien would be put in place at the ministry before he leaves, Lin said
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Wednesday approved Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung’s (林佳龍) resignation after informing President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of his decision, the Executive Yuan said yesterday. Lin offered his resignation one day after the derailment of a Taroko Express train in Hualien County on April 2, which killed 49 people and injured 244, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said, adding that Lin would leave office on Tuesday next week. Tsai and Su considered it a top priority to resume railway service after the derailment, leading to the delayed acceptance of Lin’s resignation, Lo said. After restoration work at the site of the crash was concluded, Lin on Tuesday met with Su, telling him that he was determined to take full political responsibility for the incident, Lo said, adding that Su and Tsai respected Lin’s decision. “The resignation was approved on Wednesday and is to take effect on Tuesday next week,” he said. “We are still interviewing potential candidates for the post and will announce when a new transportation minister is found,” Lo said. The meeting of Lin and Su lasted about one hour, and Lin reported what he had done since the derailment, from helping and visiting families of the deceased to restoring railway traffic, Lo said. Su and Lin agreed that reform of the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) is necessary, and should address safety and labor issues, Lo said, adding that in their view, reform of the agency should be swift and on a large scale. “The premier has been briefed about several feasible solutions to enhance the safety of the TRA and reduce the agency’s financial losses,” Lo said. “We are not planning to privatize the agency, but we hope that it could operate efficiently and safely through a corporate management.” In a statement issued by the Ministry of Transportation and
The government should stop all railway projects and allocate funding to rebuild the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), a transportation expert said in a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday. The committee held a public hearing to explore ways to reform the agency after Taroko Express No. 408 on April 2 crashed inside a tunnel in Hualien County after slamming into a crane truck near the tunnel’s entrance, killing 49 people and injuring 244. Several transportation experts were invited to share their views, with some of them having been previously recruited by the Executive Yuan to examine the TRA after the derailment of a Puyuma Express train in 2018, which killed 18 people and injured 215. “The situation facing the TRA today is the result of a wrong government policy that has been implemented for 30 years, which has prohibited the agency from raising the ticket price for more than two decades,” said Anne Chung (鍾慧諭), deputy director of Feng Chia University’s Innovation Center for Intelligent Transportation and Logistics, who was from 2014 to 2016 Taipei Department of Transportation commissioner. The agency has accumulated losses of NT$430 billion (US$15.15 million), of which more than NT$100 billion was caused by an old pension system, she said. In addition to allowing the TRA greater flexibility in adjusting fares based on different train services, Chung suggested that the government set financial goals for the agency. Meanwhile, funds allocated for railway projects in the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program — about NT$351.6 billion — should instead be used to rebuild the agency, she said. Most projects in the infrastructure program would only deepen the TRA’s financial woes, she said. “The government spent NT$309.3 billion on grade separation projects in Taipei and Kaohsiung. Rather than making the train system operate faster, the projects have greatly reduced transport capacity and increased operating costs to
More than 100 people have been questioned in connection with a Taroko Express train crash in Hualien on April 2, Hualien Prosecutor Chou Fang-yi (周芳怡) said yesterday. The remarks came in response to criticism that slow progress had been made in the investigation of the incident. Chou denied that there had been complaints from Taiwan Transportation Safety Board officials, who, according to local media reports, allegedly said that the slow investigation had allowed suspects to coordinate ahead of being questioned. The main suspect, Lee Yi-hsiang (李義祥), the driver of a crane truck that fell onto the track and into which the train crashed, and his Vietnamese assistant, Hoa Van Hao, had been placed under judicial detention, Chou said. More work was needed to identify a person in surveillance video footage who is seen standing near the tracks ahead of the incident, he said. Local media reported that the person is Hoa, who was allegedly ordered to warn incoming trains of the obstacle on the tracks. In addition, Hoa is identified in other footage recorded near the site on the day of the crash, Chou said, adding that this would help determine Hoa’s role in the incident. The investigation is also focused on corruption allegations involving Taiwan Railway Administration and government officials, he said.
EU policies on advancing human rights and democracy would hopefully provide inspiration for reform of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan Director Filip Grzegorzewski said yesterday. Grzegorzewski made the remarks at the seventh installment of the KMT’s International Democracy Salon Series in Taipei, as he was invited as the sole guest speaker at the event, titled “The Core Values of the European Union: Democracy and Human Rights.” In his speech, Grzegorzewski introduced the priorities set out by the “EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024,” which was formally adopted in November last year and follows two previous action plans introduced in 2012 and 2015. The document proposes five lines of action, summarized under the goals of protecting and empowering individuals; building resilient, inclusive and democratic societies; promoting a global system for human rights and democracy; harnessing the opportunities and addressing the challenges presented by new technologies; and delivering progress by working together. “Human rights and democracy are under increasing pressure,” said Grzegorzewski, who has been the head of the office since September 2019. “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we are noticing a persistent deterioration in democracy and human rights,” he said. “The need for effective, coherent and collective action on human rights and democracy is more important than ever.” Grzegorzewski said he hoped that EU policies could serve as inspiration for the KMT and the nation. As one of the oldest political parties in the world with “the longest history of being active as a participant of political life in Taiwan,” the KMT is “now in a crucial phase of its development,” he said. The party “is probably now trying to reinvent itself to prove to the voters that it’s still relevant,” he said, adding that he believes that the KMT needs “new ideas.” The EU’s views on
The EU has expressed concern over Chinese military activity near Taiwan and called on China to avoid unilateral actions that could fuel tensions. “We are concerned by the intensification of military activities of the People’s Liberation Army in the Taiwan Strait and the incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone [ADIZ]” an EU spokesperson said in an e-mail to the Central News Agency. “Maintaining the status quo is important for peace and stability in the Strait and in the region. It is key to exert restraint and avoid any unilateral actions that may further escalate cross-strait tensions. Tensions should be resolved through dialogue,” they added. China on Monday sent 25 military jets into the southwestern part of Taiwan’s ADIZ, the most in a single day since the Ministry of National Defense last year began to publicize movements of Chinese aircraft. A day later, five Chinese jets entered the ADIZ for an 11th consecutive day. The bloc’s statement echoed concerns voiced by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a television interview on Sunday over Beijing’s increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan. The US urged Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan, and instead engage in meaningful dialogue, a US Department of State spokesperson said.
‘NOT ENTHUSIASTIC’: People who have been approved by the CECC as special cases who need to travel, such as foreign diplomats, would be able to receive a vaccine
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday expanded the eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination to the fourth priority group — people who need to travel abroad for special reasons — adding that out-of-pocket vaccines would be available from Wednesday next week. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said although Taiwan’s COVID-19 vaccination program was on Monday expanded to include the top three groups in the priority list, people are still “not enthusiastic” about getting vaccinated. “Only 1,220 people received a vaccine shot on Tuesday, and a total of 27,113 people have received COVID-19 vaccination” so far, he said. The fourth priority group refers to people who have been proposed by a competent authority and approved by the CECC as special cases who need to travel, Chen said. They include diplomats and public-sector expatriates; staff members of foreign representative offices and their family members — given their country of origin offers vaccination to Taiwanese diplomats there under the principle of reciprocity; and athletes or contestants representing the nation. The group consists of about 5,000 people, Chen said, adding that the number of people in the top four priority groups total about 618,000. As authorities are listing eligible vaccine recipients to the center, the CECC urged people who have been notified that they are eligible to book a vaccine appointment with a designated hospital in advance and take their National Health Insurance card to get vaccinated. Chen said the center would also release an additional 10,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for people who need to travel abroad, starting on Wednesday next week. He said people who need to travel abroad “for business, work, study, medical treatment or humanitarian reasons” can apply for the paid vaccine, but those who are traveling for tourism purposes would not be allowed to apply for the time being. People who wish
A strain of gut bacteria has been found to be effective in treating chronic obstruction pulmonary disease (COPD) in animal experiments, a team of researchers said yesterday. It was the first time that such a link was confirmed, the team said. Gut microbiota is known to be closely related to inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases, but its links to COPD was not known previously, Chang Gung University Department of Medical Biotechnology and Laboratory Science professor Lai Hsin-chih (賴信志) told a news conference at the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taipei. It is difficult to treat the disease, with patients commonly experiencing repeated inflammations, Lai said. To find an effective treatment, the team studied gut microbiota strains and found a negative correlation between the strength of gut microbiota and the severity of COPD, he said. Smoking and air pollution not only affect the lungs, but also increase the possibility of gut inflammations and reduce the number of the probiotics, he said. In laboratory experiments using mice, the researchers found that the probiotic strain called Parabacteroides goldsteinii MTS01 and its key component molecule, lipopolysaccharide, are effective in ameliorating inflammation in the lungs and intestines, he said. The team’s paper, titled “Gut microbiota modulates COPD pathogenesis: Role of anti-inflammatory Parabacteroides goldsteinii lipopolysaccharide” was published in the journal Gut last month. Asked what food might boost the efficacy of the probiotic strain, Lai said his previous studies confirmed that some Chinese herbal medicine, such as lingzhi mushroom and caterpillar fungus, could boost its activity, but further studies are needed to identify the key molecules. The team can cultivate the probiotic strain in great amounts in laboratory settings, but there is still some way to go before the technique can be commercialized, Chang Gung University researcher Lin Tzu-lung (林稚容) said. In 2019, 6,301 people in Taiwan died of COPD, Fu Jen Catholic University associate professor
The Taiwan High Court yesterday upheld a death sentence handed down to Li Kuo-hui (李國輝) for torching a building in New Taipei City in November 2017, killing nine people. During his trial, Li, an ethnic Chinese from Myanmar, said he heard his neighbors making fun of him from his rented room in the building in Zhonghe District (中和). Early on Nov. 22, 2017, Li, now in his 50s, left his apartment with an empty bottle, which he filled with gasoline, investigators said. He returned at 8:32pm and poured the fuel on the staircase to the fourth floor, ignited the gasoline and fled, they said. The blaze rapidly engulfed the fourth and fifth floors of the building, where there were 25 small units divided by wooden partitions. The New Taipei City District Court in 2018 sentenced Li to death for murder, saying he set the fire out of anger, taking the lives of nine people. The district court’s ruling was upheld by the High Court. However, the Supreme Court in July last year remanded the case to the High Court for a retrial. The High Court ruled that Li was guilty of murder with direct intent, High Court spokeswoman Huang Yu-ting (黃玉婷) said yesterday. Considering Li had no mental disorders at the time of the crime and had been wanted by police for two earlier counts of arson, the High Court upheld the previous ruling, including the lifetime deprivation of Li’s civil rights and the death penalty, she said. The ruling can still be appealed, Huang said. Li was previously indicted for two counts of arson by New Taipei City prosecutors in connection with two fires in May and June 2017.
CHAOS ON CAMPUS: Some visitors picked mulberries from the trees on campus, while others used public art pieces as playground toys and took pictures of students
Students and faculty at the Taipei National University of the Arts on Tuesday urged visitors to the Yoshitomo Nara exhibition on its campus to maintain decorum, following reports of illegal parking, theft of the university’s turtles and trespassing into classrooms. The exhibition, which opened at the university on March 12 and is to run through June 20, has drawn a mixed crowd. Since the opening, some visitors have absconded with turtles from the university’s ecological pool, while others picked berries from the university’s mulberry trees, faculty and students said. Other students said they saw visiting parents using public works of art as playground equipment, while many visitors with vehicles parked in no-parking zones. Some visitors have barged into parts of the university not open to the public to use drinking fountains or restrooms in teaching areas, the students said. Over the past month, faculty and students have been stopped by visitors asking for directions, while some students have had their pictures taken by visitors, the school said. While some parts of the university have been open to the public, certain areas — such was classrooms — are off-limits to protect students and faculty, the university said, adding that it has placed signs asking visitors to refrain from entering the areas. The university has not put up signs near the works of art placed throughout the campus, as that would affect the general aesthetics of the campus, it said, adding that it hopes visitors would only look at the works and not touch them. The university reserves the right to take individuals to court over charges of destruction of property should any work of art or plants be damaged, the university said. Temporary parking zones are made available during weekends and holidays, it said. The university’s student council president Lu Wei-cheng (盧韋丞) said the university is trying to identify the
CAUTION: People should drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day, while men can eat pumpkin seeds to protect the prostate, a doctor in Taipei said
Holding urine for long periods could lead to an atonic bladder, or could cause inflammation of the urinary tract, hematuria or renal retention, a urologist said. Chang Fu-chung (張甫仲), a doctor at Taipei Hospital’s Department of Urology, on Friday last week said that the hospital admitted a 38-year-old woman who complained of a sharp, stinging pain when urinating. Chang said he diagnosed her with urethritis, based on her symptoms and darker-colored urine. The top three groups of people who usually hold off going to the restroom are women, middle-aged and older people with prostatic hyperplasia, and those who fail to drink enough water because of their job, such as security guards, medical personnel, counter clerks or police, Chang said. As women generally have a shorter urinary tract than men, they are at higher risk of contracting a urinary tract infection if they do not drink enough liquids during the day, Chang added. Prostatic hyperplasia in middle-aged to older men often causes renal retention, or forces them to urinate at a higher frequency than others, he said. Holding in the urge to urinate for long periods forces the bladder to lose its elasticity and could lead to other complications, he said. Chang said that when traveling, people should stop at rest stops along the way, or prepare bags or bottles if they need to urinate during a traffic jam. Lee Pei-ni (李佩霓), director of the hospital’s Department of Nutrition, said that people should drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day. Eating pumpkin seeds every day might be beneficial for men, Lee said. Pumpkin seeds contain minute amounts of zinc and selenium, which can help protect the prostate, she said.
‘SPLIT PERSONALITY’: A DPP spokeswoman said the KMT is protesting the Fukushima wastewater plan while still calling for the activation of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday called for a firmer response from the government to Japan’s decision to release processed wastewater from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant into the ocean. The decision to begin discharging the wastewater into the ocean in two years was announced by the Japanese government on Tuesday. If the water is not treated properly, it would contaminate the entire marine ecosystem and affect the rights of the nation’s fishers, KMT Culture and Communications Committee director-general Alicia Wang (王育敏) told a news conference in Taipei. It might also make Taiwanese feel uneasy about consuming aquatic products and cast another shadow over food safety in the nation, she said. Unlike international organizations such as Greenpeace or Japan’s other neighbors such as South Korea, the Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan “have not dared to speak loudly in protest” of the situation, Wang said. She accused President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration of having “seriously neglected” its duty to defend the nation’s food safety, citing its decision in August last year to allow imports of US pork containing traces of the animal feed additive ractopamine, and its lack of a firm condemnation with regard to Tokyo’s latest decision. The government’s response to Japan’s plans to release the wastewater into the ocean has been “too weak,” Wang said, urging the Tsai administration to “toughen up.” The KMT urges the government to express the nation’s “solemn stance” on the issue and to lodge a protest with Japan, she said. “We support maintaining positive and friendly relations between Taiwan and Japan, but when faced with national interests, including the dispute over the Diaoyutais (釣魚台列嶼), we should not yield one inch,” committee deputy director-general Huang Tzu-che (黃子哲) said. When faced with important issues of food safety and health, including food or water contaminated with radiation, “we should not yield a single step,”
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday said it welcomed a visit to the nation by a US delegation, and hoped that the mutual interests of Taiwan and the US would be enhanced. The delegation, which includes former US senator Chris Dodd and former US deputy secretaries of state Richard Armitage and James Steinberg, landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at about 3pm yesterday. Reuters reported that the trip by the “unofficial” delegation was requested by US President Joe Biden, and was described by a senior official in the Biden administration as a “personal signal” of Biden’s commitment to the nation. This year marks the 42nd anniversary of the enactment of the US’ Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), the KMT said in a statement yesterday before the group’s arrival. The dispatch of the unofficial delegation to Taiwan by the Biden administration represents how the US has long supported exchanges between Taiwan and the US, and continued to assist the nation in its self-defense and the peaceful handling of issues involving the Taiwan Strait under the framework of the TRA, the KMT said. The KMT values and appreciates the assistance and support that the Biden administration, the US Congress and non-governmental figures in the US have shown to Taiwan, the KMT said. The party said it hoped that Taiwan and the US could accommodate each other to improve relations steadily on an unofficial basis, and enhance mutual interests. KMT Legislator Charles Chen (陳以信) said that while he appreciated the delegation’s visit, he did not see it as a breakthrough regarding visits between Taiwan and the US, as the members of the delegation had no official status. Chen, who sits on the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, said he felt it was a pity that no arrangements were made for members of the delegation to meet with
Chinese Television System (CTS) is expecting financial losses of NT$260 million (US$9.14 million) this year, general manager Leon Chuang (莊豐嘉) told the Legislative Yuan’s Education and Culture Committee yesterday. CTS aims to generate profits three years after it starts broadcasting its news channel on cable television, Chuang added. The Ministry of Culture was scheduled to brief the committee on progress in drafting a public media act. Chuang and the managers of other state-owned media outlets — the Central News Agency, Radio Taiwan International, the Public Television Service, Hakka TV and Taiwan Indigenous TV — attended the briefing to answer questions from committee members. The network’s financial status came under scrutiny during the meeting because CTS New and Info is to air on Channel 52 — part of the cable news block — on Homeplus Digital’s cable systems from Monday next week. CTS has more than NT$1.8 billion in accumulated losses, which exceeds its registered capital of NT$1.6 billion, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) said. While broadcasting the Summer Universiade and Taiwan’s National Games in 2017 helped generate additional revenue and limited its losses that year to NT$160 million, the network had losses of NT$280 million in 2018 and NT$320 million in 2019, she said. Asked what the network’s losses would be this year, Chuang said they would be NT$260 million. “The network’s courage to broadcast on Channel 52 is certainly admirable, considering it is in such bad shape financially,” Lin said. As part of the public Taiwan Broadcasting System, the network should not run commercials for political parties and become a propaganda machine, Lin added. The Ministry of Culture should buy back 16.7 percent of CTS shares that are owned by private investors so that the network could be 100 percent public media, Lin said. Commercials are commercials, whether bought by businesses or
TIME FOR CHANGE: Arbitration for channels and cable operators contesting content authorization fees has taken up a lot of time and had little success, the NCC said
The National Communications Commission (NCC) has proposed an amendment that would mean channels and cable system operators would have to settle their disputes over content authorization fees through mediation and arbitration procedures stipulated by the commission, it said yesterday. Channels or cable systems suspending broadcasts without a legitimate reason while still involved in mediation or arbitration procedures would be fined NT$100,000 to NT$2 million (US$3,517 to US$70,336), the commission said. The commission proposed the procedures in light of rising disputes in the past few years between channels and cable system operators over content authorization fees, which cable operators pay to channels. From 2018 to this year, the commission handled 61 arbitration cases, commission data showed. Disputes arose when both sides had trouble settling on a reasonable amount, and they would often seek an arbitration from the commission first, it said. However, arbitration organized by the commission was often time-consuming and had limited success. Channels and cable operators often threatened to terminate broadcasts, and would not be fined if they actually did so. The commission then proposed amending the Cable Radio and Television Act (有線廣播電視法) by specifying that disputes between channel and cable operators would be handled in two stages, and holding them accountable if they suspended broadcasts while still in mediation or arbitration. NCC Vice Chairman and spokesman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said that cable operators and channels would first seek to settle issues through mediation by the commission. Should they fail to reach an agreement, they could settle the dispute through a civil lawsuit, change their business plans or enter the arbitration stage, he said. Those seeking arbitration would have to file a request within 30 days after mediation procedures are completed, Wong said, adding that the commission could reject requests or agree to review them. The commission would form an arbitration committee to