TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As a continental cold air mass continues to blast into Taiwan, Hsinchu County saw the mercury dip down to 7.9 degrees Celsius Monday morning (Dec. 9) and the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) has issued a cold surge advisory for 13 counties and cities in the country.
Early this morning the effects of a continental cold air mass and radiative cooling caused the mercury to drop to below 10 degrees from Hsinchu to Tainan, as well as Nantou, Hualien, and Taitung. The lowest temperature recorded at a ground weather station in the country was 7.9 degrees at Baoshan Station in Hsinchu County.
At 5:23 a.m., the CWB issued a cold surge advisory for 13 counties and cities in Taiwan including, Hsinchu County, Miaoli County, Taichung City, Hualien County, Changhua County, Nantou Couty, Yunlin County, Chiayi County, Chiayi City, Tainan City, Taitung County, and Kaohsiung City.
However, the cold air mass is expected to begin to weaken today and highs are expected to climb over 20 degrees across the country. During the day, the mercury is predicted to rise to between 21 and 23 degrees in northern and northeastern Taiwan and 24 and 27 degrees in southern and eastern Taiwan, but temperatures are expected to drop dramatically again tonight.
The low temperatures are expected to dip down to 14 and 16 degrees in northern, northeastern, central, and southern Taiwan, while eastern Taiwan will see the mercury drop to 18 degrees. In terms of the weather, only northern Taiwan and eastern Taiwan are expected to see cloudy skies, while central and southern Taiwan will see sunny skies.
On Tuesday (Dec. 10) morning and evening, temperatures will continue to be cold, but the weather will be generally stable. Only eastern and northern Taiwan may see occasional rain, while other areas will see partly cloudy to sunny skies.
On Wednesday and Thursday (Dec. 11 and 12), the northeast winds will increase slightly and the high temperatures in northern Taiwan will drop to between 20 and 21 degrees, while other areas will see highs range between 24 and 27 degrees. During this period, cloud cover will increase in northern and eastern Taiwan, bringing occasional rain, while central and southern Taiwan will likely see partly cloudy to sunny skies.
From Friday to next Sunday (Dec. 13 to 15), the northeast wind will weaken and temperatures in northern Taiwan will pick up during the day, with sporadic showers in eastern and northern Taiwan. Central and southern Taiwan will continue to see partly cloudy to sunny skies with the mercury climbing to 28 degrees during the day.
Throughout this week, there will be large temperature differences between day and night across the country. Residents are advised to dress in layers to help adjust to the temperature swings.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — At a demonstration held by the Kuomintang (KMT) party outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Friday (Dec. 6), legislator Chen Yin-min (陳宜民) was caught on video shoving a female police officer after knocking off her cap.
Chen was charged with interfering with public functions (妨害公務罪) by the Ministry of the Interior's Special Police Sixth Headquarters on Saturday morning (Dec. 7). The video, which went viral overnight, enraged Taiwanese netizens and drew criticism from all corners of society.
Spurred to action by the Slow Yang (楊蕙如) incident, KMT legislators gathered outside MOFA headquarters Friday, demanding that the connection between the recently indicted influencer and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) be explained. After being denied entrance by Taipei City police, Chen and his companions tried to force their way into the government agency.
The video shows Chen approaching a female plainclothes police officer and knocking her cap off her head with his hand. Chen then proceeded to shove the officer back down the steps, which he later described as "patting her lightly on the shoulder,".
In a Facebook post, Chen blamed the officer for not having revealed her identity, adding that he had not confronted another officer present because he was in uniform. Chen urged the ruling party not to obscure its responsibility in the tragedy in which the pro-DPP Yang has been implicated.
The National Police Agency said that the officer was unharmed but called Chen's behavior an insult to public authority. Green Party Taoyuan City Councilor Wang Hao-yu (王浩宇) also condemned Chen's behavior, saying that the officer could have been seriously injured had she lost her balance.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — During his stay in Taiwan, the former employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong who has accused China of torturing him was shadowed by an unknown foreign national, reports said Saturday (Dec. 7).
Simon Cheng (鄭文傑) was detained in China for 15 days in August, during which time he says he was tortured and questioned about the supposed role of Great Britain in the months-long protests in Hong Kong. After his release, he left the territory and stayed in Taiwan from Aug. 30 until Nov. 29 before moving to the UK.
However, even during his visit to the island, he reportedly did not feel safe. According to Cheng, a middle-aged man followed him around, pretending to be reading books at the Xinyi branch of Eslite in Taipei and even changing his clothes.
As a result of the incident, Cheng asked the Taiwanese authorities for protection. An investigation concluded that the man who had been shadowing the former diplomat was not, as might have been assumed, a local supporter of unification with China but a foreigner.
In an interview with the BBC conducted in Taiwan, Cheng said it was the British consulate in Hong Kong that had asked him to resign, as his functions involved contact with the Chinese authorities. He told the BBC he had agreed to leave in order not to cause the diplomatic service any problems.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Police arrested two men and seized a submachine gun and three pistols during a raid on an underground gambling den disguised as an auto repair shop and carwash in northern Taiwan over the weekend.
During a raid on an underground casino in Taoyuan, Taiwan, a special task force of Miaoli County and Taoyuan City police units apprehended a 23-year-old man surnamed Lin (林) and a 22-year-old man surnamed Chen (陳) for possessing four illegal firearms. One of the weapons seized was a Floro Mk. 9, a submachine gun used by Taiwan's special forces, reported UDN.
On Tuesday (Dec. 3), the Miaoli County Police Bureau announced the Criminal Investigation Division officers suspected that Lin and Chen had been trafficking illegal guns and drugs and running a gambling operation. After surveilling Lin and Chen, officers tracked them to a two-story luxury imported car repair shop and car wash which they suspected housed an underground casino.
On Sunday (Dec. 1), the Miaoli County Police Bureau dispatched a special police unit armed with Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns. Officers used a special new battering ram to break down the shop's metal door.
Once inside, police found 12 people, some of whom were trying to escape by jumping out the second-story window. Police then fired a warning shot in the air and managed to apprehend all 12 suspects at the scene.
Among the items seized during the raid, included one Floro Mk. 9, two Turkish Zoraki 925 automatic pistols, one 935-type "Armed Forces" automatic pistol, and 77 rounds of ammunition. Officers also seized a small amount of illegal drugs at the scene.
After being questioned by police, the men were then transferred to the Taoyuan District Prosecutor's Office to be investigated for violating the Act Controlling Guns, Knives and Ammunition (槍砲彈藥刀械管制條例). Another man arrested on the scene, surnamed Liu (劉), 29, who was wanted for previous drug crimes, was also transferred to the Prosecutor's Office for further investigation.
South Korean professor ordered to pay NT$800,000 in damages for sexually harassing Taiwanese students
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A South Korean professor at National Chengchi University (NCCU), who was convicted of sexual harassment in a civil suit last year, has been ordered to pay a fine of NT$800,000 (US$26,000) in damages to two female students.
Park Jae-kyung, a full-time associate professor in NCCU's Department of Korean Language and Culture, was accused of sexually harassing nine female students from March to May of 2017. Two of the women pressed charges, saying that he had inappropriately touched them on a total of eight occasions.
After an investigation by Taipei prosecutors, he was indicted for sexual harassment. In December 2018, Park was sentenced to 14 months in prison, which is commutable to a fine of NT$420,000.
As for the civil case, a Taipei district court ruled that Park should pay the two victims damages of NT$500,000 and NT$300,000, for a total of NT$800,000, reported Liberty Times. However, Park can appeal this decision.
According to local media reports, Park was dismissed by NCCU in June of 2017, but the victims appointed a lawyer to apply for permission to restrict Park from leaving the country. Therefore, Park must stay in Taiwan until the civil case is finalized and a decision handed down.
Park was reportedly admitted to NCCU as an assistant professor in 2017 after undergoing a video interview. Shortly after he began teaching four courses at the university in March, female students reported to the school and his department that Park would openly touch the buttocks of female students in the classroom.
A total of 102 students signed a statement saying that Park was unfit to serve as an instructor at the university. In June of 2017, students uploaded posts on the popular Taiwanese online forum PTT and Facebook, publicly accusing Park of being a "sex wolf teacher" (狼師).
Also in June, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃), held a press conference to expose Park's suspected sexual harassment of the two students. NCCU's Gender Equality Education committee held an inquiry into Park's behavior and found that nine female students had reported that he had touched them inappropriately.
After Taipei prosecutors took up the case, they found that Park had touched the clavicles of two students in his research rooms for up to 10 seconds, as well as their inner thighs, arms, and buttocks without their consent, reported Liberty Times. In the case of one student, Park had touched her inner thigh, rubbed her arm, and slapped her buttocks while alone with her in his research room.
After Park had slapped her buttocks for the second time, the student had a frightened look on her face, and he allegedly laughed and said, "Why did you have such a big reaction? I consider you like a daughter; that's why I slapped your butt. In Korea, when adults pat the butt of a child it means they are trying to give them encouragement," reported UDN. Park denied the charges and accused the students of defamation, but prosecutors found no evidence for his claims.
Park was later convicted of eight counts of sexually harassing the two female students and was initially handed a sentence of three months in prison for each offense. However, this was later shortened to 14 months, with the term commutable to a fine of NT$420,000.
After Park serves his jail time and pays the fines and punitive damages, he will be deported from Taiwan.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Eight Taiwanese women have fallen prey to working holiday exploitation in Australia, where they were "expected" to perform sexual acts on a farm where they were in debt bondage.
The young Taiwanese women were working under the 457 visa on a fruit-picking farm in the Riverland region of South Australia. According to the United Workers Union report, the women were paid AU$16 an hour (NT$334), which is far below the average hourly rate of between AU$20-25 for farm work and below Australia's national minimum wage of AU$18.93 an hour.
Their Australian employer is said to have not only paid the women substandard wages, but he also charged each of them AU$120 a week for accommodation and AU$20 and AU$25 weekly for internet and transport, respectively.
Given the low wages and high cost of living, the women could not afford to pay their bills on the farm. Their employer then coerced the women into performing sexual acts in exchange for being allowed to work additional hours to cover expenses, according to the report.
The women reportedly endured such conditions for six months before reporting their employer to a local superior. They are believed to have since left the country.
Women are cautioned to be aware of their working conditions and safety while on working holidays. Thousands of working holiday visa holders have shared their own stories of exploitation in Australia's agricultural sector on social media.
Earlier this year, an Australian man was found guilty of raping a Belgian backpacker who sought a temporary job on his farm in February 2017. When the 24-year-old woman arrived at the farm, ostensibly for a job interview, the farmer instead held her captive for two days in a pig shed, where she was held at gunpoint and sexually assaulted multiple times before she managed to escape.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Victims of accidents while hiking in the mountains or watching the waves during typhoons will no longer automatically receive government compensation, according to a measure approved by the Legislative Yuan Tuesday (December 3).
Last October, the government launched a new policy encouraging the opening of mountain and forest areas to the public, but it also proposed amendments to the National Compensation Act requiring more self-discipline from hikers and fishing enthusiasts, the Central News Agency reported.
On Tuesday, the Legislative Yuan approved the third reading of the changes, which will allow at least a reduction in the level of compensation and maybe a complete ending for hikers who neglect government warnings and still fall victim to an accident during a typhoon.
Officials cautioned that such warnings would not necessarily be limited to signs inside a park, but would also include online or broadcast messages related to special situations, including typhoons.
The reduction or abolition of compensation not only covered accidents involving fishing or watching the waves on the coast, but also passing over a rickety bridge in the mountains during a typhoon if a warning had been made about the state of the structure.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), seeking her second term for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), is recruiting volunteers to monitor the counting process on the election day.
Tsai made the announcement at a campaign event dedicated to young supporters on Tuesday (Dec. 3) evening in Taipei. It was reported the event, featuring talks from officials and performances from independent music bands, drew an audience of nearly 3,000, with approximately 10,000 people watching the live stream.
The volunteers will form an “Ing Yen Troop” (英眼), with “ing” taken from the president’s name and “yen” referring to an eye. It is said to be the first large-scale attempt by a presidential campaign office to mobilize volunteers to monitor the counting process at polling stations.
The recruiting event was dubbed, “Cast a ballot for Taiwan, safeguard a vote for ‘Little Ing,’” (Tsai’s nickname). It was launched through Line, the most popular messaging application in Taiwan, on Tuesday.
Tsai said via her Line message that being a member of the Ing Yen Troop means that each volunteer becomes “my eyes, witnessing the vote counting on my behalf at every poll station” across Taiwan.
Tsai plans to recruit 17,000 volunteers, who will be tasked with monitoring the counting process and reporting back to the campaign office. According to the Central Election Commission, there will be 17,232 polling stations for the presidential and legislative elections in January.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Connecting the two beautiful cities of Yilan and Hualien in eastern Taiwan, the revamped Suhua Highway is slated to open before Lunar New Year, while intercity bus operators revealed their bus fares for the route on Tuesday (Dec. 3).
The Suhua Highway Mountainous Section Improvement Project began in 2011 and reportedly costs NT$55.17 billion (US$1.81 billion). The aim was to straighten out and bypass high-risk sections of the highway, which is part of Provincial Highway 9, which stretches from Taipei City to Pingtung County.
Upon completion in January 2020, the length of the route will be reduced from 77 km to 53 km. This means the journey will be shortened by 45 minutes, allowing a safer and faster road home.
Additionally, United Bus announced its proposed bus fares for travel between Taipei's Nangang station and Hualien on the highway. These are: NT$320 (US$10.48) for an adult and NT$210 (US$6.88) for seniors aged over 65, or children aged under 6.
The bus operator said a special promotion price of NT$210 is available for all passengers during the first month of the highway opening. Meanwhile, Taipei Bus Co. and Capital Bus revealed slightly higher bus fares for the same journey, at NT$323 and NT$350, respectively.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As a cold air mass blows into Taiwan, the western part of the country saw the mercury plunge to 10.3 degrees Celsius this morning (Dec. 3), while rain is in the forecast for the next three days and snow could fall in the mountains by Friday (Dec. 6).
The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) reported that early this morning, the lowest temperature recorded on Taiwan's plains was 10.3 degrees Celsius in Nantou County's Zhongliao Township. Due to the effects of the cold wave striking the country, Tainan and areas north saw lows ranging between 12 and 14 degrees, while other areas saw lows hovering between 15 and 16 degrees, according to the CWB.
During the day, northern Taiwan will only see the mercury rise to between 17 and 20 degrees, eastern Taiwan will see highs of 20 to 22 degrees, and southern and central Taiwan will see highs ranging between 24 and 26 degrees. In terms of rainfall, greater Taipei and eastern Taiwan will likely only see sporadic rain, as moisture has diminished, while western Taiwan will see partly cloudy to sunny skies.
According to the CWB, from Wednesday to Friday (Dec. 4 to 6), the continental cold air mass will weaken, and early morning temperatures will rise slightly. However, due to the northward movement of a cloud system to the south of Taiwan, the whole country will see cool temperatures, and the odds of rain will increase.
During this period, the chance of rainfall in northern and eastern Taiwan will increase significantly, with heavy rain possible in northern Taiwan and Yilan. Southern and central Taiwan will see mostly cloudy skies for the rest of the week.
As the week goes on, if temperatures remain cool enough and wet conditions persist, there is a high probability of snowfall in mountains higher than 3,000 meters in elevation, particularly on Friday.