Two guilty of vote-buying
The Taoyuan District Court yesterday sentenced Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井) to three years and six months in prison on vote-buying charges. Liao’s vote captain Liao Ching-fu (廖慶福) was sentenced to two years and six months in jail. The verdict is not final. Asked for comment, Liao Cheng-ching protested his innocence, adding that he would appeal. The court said Liao Ching-fu gave five residents of Weiwu Village in Kuanyin Township (觀音) NT$25,000 in total when he was running for legislator in December 2007 and asked another resident, Liao Wen-chen (廖文振), to help the legislator buy votes at the price of NT$5,000 per person, the court said. The court also annulled Liao’s election victory in the first trial of another civil suit on the same charges. He has appealed the verdict.
Gondola tower almost ready
The relocation of an unsafe tower on the Maokong Gondola system in Taipei City is expected to be completed in December, Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said yesterday. The gondola has been closed since Oct. 1 last year after support tower No. 16’s foundation and the hillside on which it sits were eroded by torrential rain brought by Typhoon Jangmei. In a policy report to the city council, Hau said the project began on June 26 and was scheduled to be completed by the end of December. Soil conservation measures are being adopted and a shaft is being built at the new site of the tower, Hau said. Meanwhile, the city government has since Dec. 16 been carrying out work to reinforce the slope where the tower was originally situated, he said. The work is set to be completed by Dec. 15 this year, he added.
■ FOREIGN AID
Hand offered to Guatemala
Taiwan will donate US$500,000 in relief aid to Guatemala, one of its allies in Latin America, to help alleviate a food shortage caused by drought, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The donation will be handed over to the Guatemalan government by the embassy there for humanitarian purposes, said Lin Cheng-hui (林正惠), deputy director-general of the ministry’s Bureau of Central and South American Affairs. Guatemala has had a prolonged dry spell this year, which has extended to November because of the El Nino effect. The drought has affected the harvest of staples like maize, red beans and rice, resulting in food shortages and an increase in food prices, Lin said. The price of food has risen above what most poor people in Guatemala can afford, he added.
Meat-free Mondays touted
A civic group that is urging people to refrain from eating meat every Monday to help reduce greenhouse gases has set up a Web site to promote its cause. The site, www.meatfree.org.tw, will serve as a platform for members of the group to exchange their experiences in not eating meat, said Hsu Jen-hsiu (徐仁修), one of the group’s leaders. Livestock emit large volumes of methane into the atmosphere, which contributes more to global warming than the emissions produced by all the vehicles around the world, Hsu said. Hsu said his group is recruiting individual, group and restaurant members. Group members should serve meat-free dishes in their cafeterias every Monday, while restaurant members should offer a menu where one-third of the dishes come without meat, Hsu said. Individual members will be encouraged to eat meat-free meals every Monday, he said.
Forum to open in Virginia
An annual conference on Taiwan-US strategic security cooperation will be held in Charlottesville, Virginia, from Sunday to Tuesday, organizers said. The eighth US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference will bring together senior officials and academics from the two countries to discuss security issues of mutual concern, organizers said. The US-Taiwan Business Council, which groups US companies with interests in Taiwan, has organized the event annually since 2002, when then-defense minister Tang Yiau-min (湯曜明) represented Taiwan at the first meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida. Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, said on Monday the agenda for this year’s meeting would focus on US-Taiwan defense cooperation and Taiwan’s future defense and security needs. The conference will discuss Taiwan’s military transformation and strategic changes, military modernization, integration and defense innovation, Hammond-Chambers said. Wallace Gregson, US assistant secretary of defense in charge of Asia-Pacific security affairs; David Shear, deputy US assistant secretary of state in charge of East Asian and Pacific affairs; and Deputy Defense Minister Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋) will deliver keynote speeches.
MOFA to invite Lugo
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will likely invite Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo to visit in the first half of next year, an official said yesterday. Lugo was unable to accept an invitation to visit this year because of his schedule, said Lin Cheng-hui (林正惠), deputy director-general of the MOFA’s Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs.
TOO TIRED: Investigators found that the pilot’s lack of alertness could be attributed to a lack of sleep the previous night, when he had slept with his child It was a copilot’s inappropriate operation of the aircraft and the pilot’s insufficient alertness that led to a hard landing of a China Airlines cargo flight on Dec. 13, 2018, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said yesterday. Flight CI6844, a Boeing 747-409 which departed from Hong Kong International Airport, landed on the pre-threshold area of runway L5 at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, about 21m before the head of the runway, an investigation report said. The hard landing damaged three runway lights, but none of the personnel on board sustained any injuries, the report said. When approaching the runway, the copilot failed to maintain
DISTRUST WARRANTED? The WHO is under China’s control and has become a useless organization, while data from China cannot be trusted, a Control Yuan member said China’s demand that the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, Hubei Province, not be referred to with names like the “Wuhan pneumonia” betrays its lack of confidence in itself, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told lawmakers yesterday. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) asked Su, during a interpellation at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, for his view on China’s attempts to redeem its national image in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These included China’s efforts to “bleach” its image, including having WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus publicly praise its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, and thanking it for buying time
REPEAT OFFENDER: The man went outside for exercise on Wednesday and then left his home on Saturday with his girlfriend, officials said A New Taipei City man has been fined NT$400,000 (US$13,221) and ordered into government quarantine after breaking home quarantine for a second time on Saturday. The 25-year-old man, surnamed Chen (陳) returned to Taiwan on Sunday last week and was ordered to home quarantine until Sunday. He was seen leaving his home on a scooter with his girlfriend on Saturday, three days after he was fined NT$200,000 for going outside to exercise, police said. Chen has now been placed in a quarantine center arranged by the district office and health center of the district where he lives, police said. Police warned the public
Taipei residents who stay at hotels in the city during their 14-day mandatory quarantine period are eligible to apply for the city’s NT$7,000 subsidy, with online applications to be launched next week. Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) on Monday said Taipei residents who have COVID-19 Health Declaration and Home Quarantine Notice dated after March 19 and a quarantine hotel receipt for the dates covered by the quarantine period, would be eligible for the subsidy. The Taipei City Government on Sunday told the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) that so many city residents are under home quarantine that about 90 percent of