TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Do you know where in Taiwan you can go swimming, surfing, or catch fish? Probably not, and that’s why a legislator wants to straighten out the confused situation.
Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩) on Tuesday (Oct. 8) called on the Ocean Affairs Council (OAC) to integrate all maritime regulations and related data on a single website or platform for members of the public to access, according to a CNA report.
Chen issued a press release Tuesday, stating that Taiwan is an island nation and regular maritime activities are frequent. However, numerous regulations governing maritime activities are scattered across many government agencies, including the Tourism Bureau, Fisheries Agency, Construction and Planning Agency, and local governments, the statement adds.
Unable to access the relevant regulations, many people end up getting tickets or fines for doing the wrong activity in the wrong maritime place. Chen said that during a legislative meeting on Tuesday, she asked the OAC to create a website that will collect and integrate all related maritime regulations.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has ordered the OAC to complete the construction of such a website by the end of November, according to the CNA report.
A Ministry of Health and Welfare audit of food safety around Taiwan has found violations by a number of popular chain restaurants.
The list of violators, released Monday, included a branch of HaiDiLao Hot Pot (海底撈火鍋), where inspectors found excessive levels of pesticide residue, and a Umai Yakinuku (屋馬燒肉) location where the E. coli bacteria was discovered.
The audit, which took place between March and April this year, inspected 173 restaurants chosen at random from a list compiled on the basis of their popularity and menu types.
Chou Pei-ju (周珮如), a division chief of the Northern Center for Regional Administration of the Food and Drug Administration, told CNA that restaurants were tested for compliance with hygiene regulations, their food business registration status, possession of liability insurance, and proper labeling of food products.
Inspectors also took samples of 343 food items for laboratory testing.
In all restaurants where E. coli was found, the contaminated ingredients were raw vegetables used in salads, indicating possible hygienic lapses in the food preparation process, Chou said.
In summarizing the audit results, Chou urged restaurants to put the highest priority on food hygiene and safety or risk legal consequences, including fines, for future violations.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A magnitude 4.7 earthquake jarred northeastern Taiwan's Yilan County at 1:17 a.m. this morning (Oct. 8), according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB).
The epicenter of the temblor was 61 kilometers east of Yilan County Hall at a shallow depth of 13 kilometers. Located along the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, Taiwan uses an intensity scale of 1 to 7, which gauges the degree to which a quake is felt in a specific location.
The quake’s intensity registered a 3 in Yilan County, a 2 in Hualien County, and a 1 in New Taipei City, Hsinchu County, and Miaoli County. No injuries were reported from the quake at the time of publication.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An Indonesian fisherman who has been in a coma since a suspension bridge collapsed on Oct. 1 woke up on Monday (Oct. 7).
At around 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 1, the Nanfang'ao Bridge in Yilan's Su'ao Township suddenly gave way, crushing three fishing boats, killing six, and injuring 12. Among the injured was a 29-year-old Indonesian fisherman identified as Winanto, who suffered brain edema, a facial bone fracture, and a pulmonary contusion.
After the bridge collapse, Winanto was rushed to Saint Mary's Hospital Luodong, where he lay in a coma in the hospital's intensive care unit for the next six days. On Monday, the hospital announced that Winanto had miraculously regained consciousness that morning, greatly moving the medical team that was treating him, according to the report.
Doctors said they will carry out follow-up scans of his brain before proceeding with the next stage of treatment. After news spread that Winanto had awoken from his coma, not only did his family members rush to his side, but Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) also made a visit that afternoon to wish him a speedy recovery.
The hospital said that with the help of his relatives and medical staff, Winanto was able to use his mobile phone for a video chat with his mother in Indonesia, who gave him many words of encouragement. Although Winanto is not yet able to speak, he was able to nod in response to questions, could make the OK gesture with his hand, and expressed a strong will to continue improving.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Chinese tourist arrested on Monday (Oct. 7) for ripping down a Lennon Wall at National Taiwan University (NTU) will be deported on a charge of vandalism and denied entry to the country for 5 years.
An NTU student captured the 30-year-old male suspect, Li (李), on video tearing posters and messages from a Lennon Wall on school grounds. His female Chinese companion looked on, but was not arrested since she had not participated in the defacement.
According to the Da'an Precinct of the Taipei Police Department, Li said he acted on impulse when he came across the pro-Hong Kong posters while touring the campus. The police said on Tuesday that security footage showed Li headed directly to the Lennon Wall, making it likely he had planned the act.
NTU said the Lennon Wall is set up for people to share their views on the Hong Kong protests. Although the campus is a haven for freedom of speech, Li's behavior violated others' right to express themselves freely.
Prior to the incident, similar acts of vandalism also occurred at National Tsing Hua University, National Taiwan University of Arts, and National Sun Yat-sen University.
Police authorities in Taiwan were busy Sunday trying to clarify a comment a day earlier suggesting that Taiwan would enforce an anti-mask law similar to the one being carried out in Hong Kong to deter widespread protests.
Taiwan's police will not forbid all participants in public assemblies from wearing masks and will only check on a select few based on tips or intelligence, said National Police Agency (NPA) Director-General Chen Ja-chin (陳家欽) on Sunday.
Article 14 of the Assembly and Parade Act stipulates that related authorities "shall put necessary restrictions" on "any disguising that might make personal identification difficult," Chen said, in effect prohibiting the use of masks.
It does not mean, however, that police will ban every assembly participant from wearing a mask or another disguise, Chen explained.
Police will only check on participants who, based on tips, could be a potential threat to the rally, he said.
Chen's comments were a response to remarks made Saturday by Taipei Police Commissioner Chen Jia-chang (陳嘉昌), who pledged during a city council session that his department would put the law into practice for the safety of all rally participants.
His pledge raised concerns that Taiwan is going down the same road as Hong Kong, which imposed the ban to more easily identify and arrest protesters.
Demonstrators in Hong Kong have worn masks to hide their identities, in part to avoid arrest and face Hong Kong's draconian "riot" laws but also to avoid having their identities known and pressure put on their employers to take action against them.
In a separate statement Sunday, Taipei police said they would not forbid all assembly participants from wearing masks, though acknowledging it was still against the law to do so.
The statement said police will first inform the rally or demonstration organizers when it discovers people wearing masks at such an event and will not intervene unless the organizers are unable to persuade mask wearers to remove their masks and ask for the police's assistance.
Taipei police will continue to protect people's rights to freedom of assembly while maintaining order at such events, the statement pledged.
According to the statement, the city's police department said its chief made his comments Saturday because of an incident in which Hong Kong singer-activist Denise Ho (何韻詩) was sprayed with paint by a suspect wearing a mask before a pro-Hong Kong democratic movement rally in downtown Taipei on Sept. 29.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Due to Booking.com's ongoing data breaches, 228 Taiwanese have been defrauded out of NT$30 million over the first nine months of this year.
The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) on Sunday (Oct. 6) pointed out that 228 Taiwanese Booking.com customers have been victims of fraud this year after their personal data was accessed by hackers. The CIB estimates that these customers have been suffered from NT$30 million in losses as a result and appealed to the public to select e-commerce sites with stronger security mechanisms.
According to a press release sent out by the CIB on Sunday, Booking.com had by far the most cases of customers victimized by fraudsters after their personal data had been hacked. In contrast, only four such cases were reported over the same period for Agoda customers and just one for hotels.com.
The CIB said that the leakage of Booking.com customer data enabled fraud groups to call the website's members and pose as customer service representatives. Since May of this year, the anti-fraud hotline has received 165 reports of fraud and a total of 228 from January to September, representing total loses of NT$33.62 million.
Among those victimized was a 32-year-old doctor surnamed Lin (林), who received a fraudulent phone call from a fake Booking.com customer service representative. The scammer claimed that duplicate orders and charges on his account were caused by a system anomaly and the bank would be notified to provide assistance.
Then, another fraudster posed as the bank's customer service representative and called Lin again. This scammer claimed that Lin's ATM had a network connection function and to cooperate with him in using the ATM to cancel the charges.
Believing that the con artist was a real customer service representative from the bank, Lin dutifully followed his instructions. He later learned to his horror that it was a scam he had been cheated out of NT$1.64 million.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said on Sunday (Oct. 6) that the leader of a country should possess wisdom or it could spell disaster for the people, a statement that seemed to insinuate that incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) lacks such a leadership quality.
Lu, who threw her hat into the ring as the Formosa Alliance's presidential nominee, is required to garner 280,384 signatures to qualify as a candidate. She has been a vocal critic of Tsai and her administration’s policies.
During a campaign stop in Chiayi, Lu fired back against commentator Chen Chi-fang (陳季芳), who sarcastically remarked that she is the right choice of running mate for presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the Kuomintang (KMT) because “she has gone to great lengths to denounce Tsai as Han has,” reported the Liberty Times. Lu defended her position, saying both the opposition KMT and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have waned and that the island’s party politics needs “reshuffling.”
Lu also lashed out against the passage of the DPP-proposed amendment to the Referendum Act, which she warned would disrupt peace in society. She urged the public to vote for someone wise and sensible, as challenges for Taiwan lie ahead in the four years to come, said the report.
On Oct. 5, Lu directed harsh criticism at Tsai, suggesting that it is the president who has undermined the values of the DPP only a few years into her tenure and who has condoned abuse of power and nepotism in her administration, wrote Newtalk.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Firefighters captured an invasive 6.5-meter-long Burmese python near a lake in Kaohsiung City on Thursday (Oct. 3).
Thursday afternoon, a Burmese python measuring 6.5 meters in length and weighing 60 kilograms was found slithering through the grass near Chengcing Lake in Kaohsiung City's Niaosong District, reported UDN. Firefighters who arrived at the scene were reportedly startled by the massive size of the python, which is not endemic to Taiwan.
At 3:55 p.m. on Thursday, a worker was clearing weeds around a drainage ditch next to Wenqian Road and near the rear entrance to the lake. He suddenly spotted the python wriggling in the weeds and immediately notified authorities.
The fire bureau initially dispatched two men to the scene, but once they realized the enormous size of the creature, they called for backup. Eight firefighters were eventually needed to subdue the snake.
Throughout the process, the agitated python frequently hissed and lunged at the firefighters. Finally, firefighters were able to press the serpent's head down with a fire hook and then seize it with their bare hands.
Once they had subdued the snake, they then had the conundrum of finding a large enough container to place it in. They eventually borrowed a delivery truck and a large water barrel from the Taiwan Water Corporation and took the snake back to Chengcing Lake Fire Station.
Once the python was at the station, the firefighters decided to have a bit of fun and pose with the snake for a Tetris Challenge photo, which has been all the rage online lately. The photo then quickly spread through a number of police and firefighter social media groups.
Many Taiwanese netizens were terrified by python's massive size:
"I'm scared to death! It's too big."
"The snake in the video looks like it wants to bite people."
"Mowing the grass and running into a python."
"It's only this big because Ah Ma raised it."
"I'm very curious to see what they plan on doing with that python next."
UDN cited firefighters as saying that they believe that the snake is a Burmese python and that it weighs 60 kilograms, but China Times has it weighing 100 kilograms. The python is currently being kept at the fire station until the authorities decide what to do with it.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Nanfang'ao Bridge in Yilan County’s Su'ao Township, which suffered a catastrophic collapse killing six and injuring 12 on Tuesday (Oct. 1) had only been independently inspected once in the 21 years since it was constructed.
During testimony to the Legislative Yuan's Transportation Committee in Taipei, Taiwan International Ports Corp (TIPC) Chairman Wu Chung-rung (吳宗榮), who resigned after the disaster, said that the bridge had only been inspected once since it was completed in 1998. Over the 21 years since its completion in the typhoon and earthquake ridden area, only one independent inspection was carried out.
After the bridge was finished, its management was handed over to the Taiwan International Harbor Bureau, which never administered an independent inspection. In 2012, the state-run TIPC was created and took over management of the bridge.
When asked by legislators if there had ever been an independent inspection of the ill-fated bridge, Wu said that Yilan County commissioned Taoyuan’s Chien Hsin University of Science and Technology to carry out an inspection in 2016, reported UDN. Ironically, the sole independent inspection took place because the county mistakenly thought that the bridge was under its jurisdiction, even though it is technically under the control of TIPC.
The TIPC volunteered the results of its own previous inspection report on the bridge on Tuesday. However, it was only a few pages in length and hardly mentioned the state of the bridge's structure, much less the cables, which are the center of the investigation.
Wu said that although the property rights to the bridge are owned by TIPC, it is always open for the Su-Ao Township to use. He said that once he heard that the county of Yilan had commissioned an independent inspection of the bridge in 2016, "The TIPC naturally did not repeat the inspection."
On Thursday (Oct. 3), Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) announced that he had accepted Wu’s resignation. Lin that day pledged that the government would carry out a thorough inspection of eight port bridges accross Taiwan by year's end.