TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Future Tech Exposition (FUTEX 2019) is set to open on Dec. 5 and run through Dec. 8 at the Taipei World Trade Center, with a focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT).
The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) held a pre-exhibition press conference on Tuesday (Nov. 12) and Minister Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) introduced Taiwan's accomplishments in 2019. Chen said the ministry has striven to apply results from the nation's research institutions and laboratories to local companies.
Chen added that Taiwan is at the leading edge of the global market in 11 of 88 new-tech sectors, including AI, IoT, biotechnology, smart machinery, and pharmaceutical developments. MOST believes Taiwan can build on the foundations of the last two years and become the world's secret smart technology champion.
A National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) research team, led by Jeremy Lee (李祈均), assistant professor of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, demonstrated a new digitized voice system that can analyze users' moods based on their personalities. Lee's team said the invention has medical applications and was recognized at the Affective Computing & Intelligent Interaction Conference (ACII 2019), as well as INTERSPEECH 2019, reported Radio Taiwan International.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Canadian man was arrested late last month while trying to smuggle in excess of NT$100 million (US$3.2 million) worth of marijuana through Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE).
Since Canada legalized marijuana in 2018, customs officers at TPE have seized marijuana smuggled by drug trafficking groups from Canada on several occasions. As a result, drug enforcement units have begun to strengthen their investigation of this new drug transportation pipeline.
According to the Aviation Police Bureau, customs officers at 5 a.m. on Oct. 30 scanned two suitcases from Toronto, Canada, through an X-ray machine at Terminal 2 and tagged them as suspicious, reported Liberty Times. When their Canadian owner picked up his bags and walked towards customs, he was stopped by officers, who asked him to open the suitcases.
In addition to a few items of clothing, officers discovered 30 vacuum-sealed packs, each containing 1.054 kilograms (kg) of marijuana buds for a total of 31.62 kg, reported China Times. The market price for marijuana in Taiwan is approximately NT$1,500 to NT$2,000 per gram, while marijuana buds are worth three to five times that price.
Based on the market price, the stash of cannabis discovered in the suitcase has a street value of roughly NT$80 million to NT$120 million. After being questioned by aviation police, the man was transferred to the Taoyuan District Prosecutor's Office, where he is being investigated for violating the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例).
At the same time, the prosecutor's office is investigating the drug ring behind the suspected smuggling operation.
As marijuana has been legalized in Canada and in more than 10 U.S. states, such as California, Colorado, and Oregon, the two countries are no longer categorized by Taiwan as low-risk countries for drugs. As a consequence, Taiwan Customs has listed flights from the U.S. and Canada as "key drug detection flights" and has stepped up inspections of passengers arriving from these countries.
Unlike Canada, certain U.S. states, and some other Western countries where it is allowed for medical or recreational purposes, marijuana is still classified as a category 2 narcotic under the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act in Taiwan.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The new Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) air traffic control tower, which is slated to being operations in December, was inspired by Queen's Head rock in northern Taiwan.
The current tower has been in operation for 40 years since 1979. According to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), the number of flights per day in 1979 was 100, but in the four decades since, that number has risen to 700.
As the air traffic control tower's facilities have been increasingly inadequate to handle the increased number of flights and as visibility is poor, the CAA promoted the building of a new tower. Construction began in earnest in July 2016 and is slated to open on Dec. 16.
The new tower, which was designed by a French team, is located between the airport's first and second towers. The design for the tower was inspired by the Queen's Head rock in New Taipei City's Yehliu Geopark. Including its 3-meter long antennas, the tower stands 65 meters in height.
Part of the outer wall facing the first tower is white, while the side facing the second tower is steel gray, soon creating a new landmark in the nation's international gateway. According to Air Navigation and Weather Services, the new tower is 19 meters taller than the old one, greatly improving the field of view for air traffic control personnel and enhancing ground and flight safety at the airport.
In addition to the main structure of the tower, the complex also includes a flight building, power air conditioning building, and backup building. The tower itself comes equipped with integrated aviation control, automatic dependent surveillance, aviation weather, and a dozen other sophisticated systems, said Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍).
The CAA estimates that by 2030, TPE will see 1,200 flights taking off and landing each day and the new tower has the capacity to manage this increased amount of traffic.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Two tropical depressions churning in the Western Pacific Ocean to the east of Taiwan have the potential of becoming tropical storms, according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB).
CWB forecaster Chang Cheng-chuan (張承傳) said that two tropical depressions loitering in the Western Pacific Ocean could soon form into tropical storms Fengshen (風神) and Kalmaegi (海鷗), the 25th and 26th tropical storms of the year, respectively. Chang said that moisture from the one nearest to Taiwan could shift north to the east coast, but the degree of uncertainty is still high and more observation is needed.
According to observations by the CWB, as of 2 a.m. this morning (Nov. 12), there was a tropical depression located south-southwest of Wake Island. Also at 2 a.m. this morning, another tropical depression was spotted in the waters east of the Philippines.
The CWB predicts both will develop into "mild typhoons" (輕度颱風). Chang said that the conditions of the depression near Wake Island make it more likely to become a typhoon.
Chang predicted that the one near Wake island will likely move northwest before moving northeast and that it is unlikely to hit any landmasses. As for the tropical depression near the Philippines, Chang said that the development conditions are not particularly good, as wind shear is especially strong, and that it may take longer to become a tropical storm.
Chang predicted that the tropical depression near the Philippines will likely become a tropical storm on Wednesday (Nov. 13) or Thursday (Nov. 14). Chang said that moisture from the storm could shift northward and reach the east coast of Taiwan by the weekend, but he noted that there is a high degree of variability and said more observation is needed.
GEFS combined models for tropical depression near Wake Island.
GEFS combined models for tropical depression near Philippines.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Monday (Nov. 11) afternoon condemned the Hong Kong police for shooting at the city's citizens after a general strike was met with police firing live rounds and tear gas.
Beijing and the Hong Kong government should not fire on Hong Kong’s people, they should instead meet their commitment to democracy and freedom, Tsai said via Facebook. She was referring to Hong Kong’s Basic Law – a mini constitution that has governed the city since it was handed over to Beijing in 1997.
Recent events in Hong Kong are very regrettable, said the president. She called on the Hong Kong authorities to start dialogue with pro-democracy protesters to find solutions to the months-long civil unrest and bring stability and order back to the financial hub.
“I am saddened to see these scenes of violence against unarmed protesters & hope that Taiwan can continue to serve as a beacon of democracy for those who seek freedom,” Tsai said later via Twitter. The president has said the Taiwan government supports Hong Kong’s people in their fight for freedom and democracy, but emphasized that the authorities should not intervene in the protests.
One unarmed protester was shot in the stomach with a live round on Monday morning during a brief confrontation with a traffic police officer, who fired a total of three live rounds. In the afternoon, the hospital reportedly said the bullet had been removed but the protester was still in critical condition.
Hong Kong police fired tear gas at protesters and civilians across the city throughout the day, including on school campuses and in the Central business district, local reports said.
There were also a handful of attacks by protesters against those who were suspected of being pro-government. A man was set on fire after arguing with a group of protesters. He was also in critical condition, according to reports.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) announced on Tuesday (Nov. 12) that he is withdrawing from the 2020 presidential race, confirming the presidential bid of the People First Party's (PFP) James Soong (宋楚瑜).
The four major parties of the Legislative Yuan can each nominate a candidate without having to collect signatures from the public. Wang's own KMT has already nominated Kaohsiung City Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) as its contender, and the registration period for independent candidates has already passed, leaving the PFP as the only avenue to a presidential bid for Wang. However, the PFP is set to dash his last hope as its chairman, James Soong, is poised to run again.
On Tuesday, Wang revealed his decision not to run in January's election and that said Soong had told him in person the previous day that the 77-year-old political veteran would enter the race.
When asked whether he would now support the KMT's Han-Chang ticket, Wang replied that Han should stay in Kaohsiung to serve as mayor for a full term "for Taiwan's own good," but he stopped short of endorsing candidates from other parties, citing that he disagrees with their policies, gestures, and partisanship.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Wei Ying-chun (魏應充), one of four brothers who own Ting Hsin International Group, will serve five years and nine months in prison for his part in food safety scandals involving cooking oil.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday (November 6) found Wei guilty on seven counts that can no longer be appealed. He was also found guilty on 19 other counts, though he can avoid prison sentences for those by paying fines. A further 45 counts will have to be retried by the High Court on the Supreme Court’s orders.
Wei had been sentenced to 15 years on all charges by the High Court following a not-guilty verdict by a district court.
The cases centered on the import of low-grade oil from Vietnam, which Ting Hsin repackaged and sold as cooking oil fit for human consumption. The affair was one of many food safety scandals to break into the open in 2013 and 2014, including the false labeling of cheap oil as more expensive olive oil and the use of oil residues and products for animal consumption as cooking oil.
The Ting Hsin tycoon has already served more than 500 days of a two-year sentence for another scandal involving the mixing of palm oil with olive and grapeseed oil, a process which reportedly earned his company NT$60 million (US$1.9 million).
Following Wednesday’s Supreme Court verdict, prosecutors have launched measures to prevent Wei from leaving the country, according to reporters. The Ting Hsin International empire includes significant food holdings in China as well as food and real estate in Taiwan, and it once owned 37 percent of Taipei 101.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan's former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) went on trial in Taipei on Wednesday (Nov. 6), charged with criminal breach of trust for the sale of three Kuomintang (KMT) properties during his tenure as party chairman.
Ma attended a district court session in Taipei in the morning and said the sale of the three party assets – Central Motion Picture Co. (中影), Broadcasting Corporation of China (中廣), and China Television Co. (中視) – in 2005 was in compliance with the law. His lawyer, Victor Wu (吳柏宏), said the transactions were processed by the KMT-controlled China Investment Corporation (CIC, 中投), while Ma was busy running Taipei as mayor in 2005 and 2006.
Wu was quoted as saying in court that Ma did not give advice on the transaction, nor did he arrange under-the-counter negotiations for any specific buyer, LTN reported. Wu also mentioned that Ma couldn't recall the transaction details of China Television Co.
The next court session is slated for Dec. 18, 2019, when it is expected the Central Motion Picture Co. deal will be looked at. Ma had originally been found not guilty of the criminal breach of trust charge in 2014 due to lack of evidence, but prosecutors appealed the verdict.
The Taipei District Prosecutors Office said in a statement last year that then KMT chair Ma knew that Albert Yu (余建新), the buyer of the three party-owned properties, was financially incapable of completing the transaction. However, it was alleged that Ma still forced through the deals in favor of Yu.
In doing so, his aim was to indicate to the public that the KMT had withdrawn from the media, but in truth it had not. The three transactions reportedly incurred a NT$7.2 billion loss for the country's wealthiest political party.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The bridge in Yilan County’s Nanfang’ao which collapsed last October 1, killing six migrant workers, will be rebuilt within three years, reports said Wednesday (November 6).
The authorities came under fire for failing to conduct regular inspections of bridges, with the one across the entrance to the port of Nanfang’ao collapsing on top of fishing trawlers after a truck passed.
Work to remove the debris and open up the port to normal shipping was completed on Tuesday (November 5).
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Transportation organized a meeting to discuss plans for the aftermath of the disaster with local stakeholders, including fishermen and the tourism sector.
The new bridge would be designed with respect for the local scenery and would take into account safety measures to make it last for 100 years, reporters quoted a ministry official as saying.
Before the end of November, a full report would be presented including an explanation of the causes for the disaster, the ministry said. By the same time, the fishermen would also be compensated for their losses resulting from the collapse and its aftermath, while further work on the underwater part of the structure could not be ruled out if prosecutors requested to take a closer look at more elements of the bridge, according to the ministry.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) was questioned by Democratic Progressive Party legislator Ruan Jhao-syong (阮昭雄) at the Legislative Yuan Tuesday (Nov. 5) about the false arrest of a middle-aged Taiwanese woman surnamed Chen (陳) by the Taipei City Police Department.
Ruan said Chen was wrongfully arrested on Monday (Nov. 4) evening in Wanhua District when she encountered two men, who claimed to be officers from the Taipei Police Department. Chen was very frightened since the men did not wear police uniforms or present their IDs, so she called out to a nearby hotel employee for help.
Chen was handcuffed by the two men who accused her of being a wanted person. It was not until the hotel employee suggested that the men double-check Chen's ID that they realized they had arrested the wrong person.
Ko apologized for the incident and said the city government would provide compensation to Chen, after Ruan pointed out the police did not follow the standard operating procedure (SOP). Ko said Taipei Police would ensure officers were given extra training to avoid such a mishap in the future.
Commissioner of the Taipei City Police, Chen Jia-chang (陳嘉昌), said the misunderstanding happened because the officers were wearing plain clothes and did not carry a warrant. Chen promised that he and his officers would learn from the incident and make adjustments to prevent similar mistakes in the future.