Taiwan News: Tsai Reiterates Indigenous Justice Pledge, Prosecutor Suspended

Taiwan News: Tsai Reiterates Indigenous Justice Pledge, Prosecutor Suspended
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
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President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said she believes transitional justice is helping to free Taiwan's indigenous peoples from 400 years of suppression and disregard, although at a slow pace.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Austronesian Forum in Taipei, which fell on Aboriginal Day in Taiwan, Tsai said her administration will continue to work towards promoting the need for understanding between different ethnic groups.

According to Tsai, she fully understands that 400 years of suppression cannot be reversed after only two years after the country began to seek transitional justice, but change is happening.

The Austronesian Forum brings together the heads of state and envoys from 13 countries and areas in Pacific region.

President Tsai issued an apology to Taiwan's indigenous peoples, who number some 540,000, on Aug. 1, 2016, expressing regret for centuries of "pain and mistreatment".

On the same day, the president established the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee with the mandate to "implement the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law, promote historical justice and transitional justice, and establish a foundation for self-rule by indigenous peoples."

Taiwan's Transitional Justice Act, passed in December 2017, focused on events between 1945 and 1992, declining to encompass the period beginning at the start of the Japanese occupation in 1895 and with it the chance to address seizures of indigenous people's lands.

Read More: Asia Cement: Following Rules or Pit Mining Human Rights?

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The Ministry of Justice said Wednesday that it has now suspended Hualien County prosecutor Lin Chun-yu (林俊佑) for abuse of power and his case has been turned over the Control Yuan for review.

The announcement comes after Lin was filmed interrogated children and teachers at a kindergarten in Hualien City in late June after his daughter was allegedly bullied by several students at the school.

Security surveillance footage from the school showed Lin brought two police officers onto the premises and illegally questioned the children, who were aged between two to four, after ordering teachers not to intervene.

Justice ministry officials said the Control Yuan will decide whether to impeach Lin on charges of abuse of power and misconduct.

The ministry had originally taken action to transfer Lin to the Penghu County Prosecutors' Office.

However, the incident sparked a public outrage and Penghu County Commissioner Chen Kuang-fu (陳光復) personally told justice ministry officials that Lin was not welcome on the outlying island.

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1200px-Da-Lin_Power_Plant2
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons
The number one generator at Kaohsiung's Dalin power plant is almost able to operate at full capacity, according to Taipower.

Continuing high temperatures pushed peak electricity usage to an all-time high of 37.227 GW Wednesday for the second consecutive day.

According to state-owned Taiwan Power Company, the record high occurred at 2:20 p.m. and surpassed the previous highest level of 36.906 GW recorded a day earlier.

The high electricity usage left Taipower with an operating reserve margin of 6.18 percent and that triggered a yellow light, indicating a tight power supply when operating reserves fall between 6 and 10 percent.

The record usage comes as the number three generator at Taipower's Mailiao Plant in Yunlin County in western Taiwan remains offline due to a malfunction.

However, Taipower said the number one generator at its Dalin Plant in Kaohsiung is edging close to full capacity and will fill the power gap caused by the malfunction at the Yunlin plant.

Economics Minister Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said the island's industrial sector should not be concerned about insufficient power supplies and the operating reserve margin will remain above 6 percent during the peak summer season.

And according to Chen, power supplies will be sufficient as several major plants have re-started generating electricity following maintenance overhauls.

Read More: Taiwan's Electricity Shortage and the 'Demand Response' Solution

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A nationwide child care subsidy program that came into effect Wednesday has drawn criticism from parents, government-contracted kindergartens and babysitters, all of whom have been citing a failure by the government to publicize relevant measures in advance.

The subsidy program is part of government efforts to reverse Taiwan's low birth rate.

Under the program, parents who qualify will receive a monthly subsidy of NT$6,000 (US$196) for each child up to the age of two who attends a semi-public private kindergarten or who is looked after by childminders who sign a contract with the government.

However, the the Ministry of Health only unveiled the guidelines on how to apply for the subsidies on Tuesday evening.

Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka has admitted the the government was slow in making information available to the public.

However, she said since the policy was announced in May, the government has been in talks with local governments on ways to implement the program and there is a two-month grace period for implementation.

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許銘春
Photo credit: 勞動部
Labor Minister Hsu Ming-chun believes Taiwan's workers can learn from their US counterparts in terms of unionization.

Labor Minister Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) said Taiwan has advantages that reduce the potential for labor-management disputes, but workers in Taiwan can also learn from their American counterparts.

Speaking after attending a labor conference in the U.S., Hsu said Taiwan's advantages include its national health insurance system, which means less labor disputes occur because of expensive medical insurance.

However, she said employees in Taiwan can learn from U.S. workers in terms of improving their negotiating skills with employers and organizing into big unions that can project power.

Hsu was visiting the U.S. to attend the conference of the U.S. based National Association of Government Labor Officials in Montana.

She was the only international member of the association to attend the meeting and was also Taiwan's first labor minister to take part in the conference since 2014.

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The Taipei Department of Rapid Transit said the first-stage of construction of the circle, or yellow line has almost been completed and testing will to begin next month.

According to the transit authority, 90 percent of the overall construction work has been finished, including a control center and major electronic and electric facilities.

Power supply has been connected to the 15.4-km section of 14 stations from Dapinglin in Xindian District to the New Taipei Industrial Park on the Taoyuan Airport MRT line.

And the control center is carrying out single-train test runs on certain parts of the "middle circle" section in automatic mode.

Testing of the entire section is expected to begin in September.

Company officials said efforts are being made to push for commercial runs on the completed section of track to begin next year.

The circular line goes through the New Taipei districts of Xindian, Zhonghe, Banqiao and Xinzhuang.

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Germany's new top envoy to Taiwan, Thomas Prinz has officially assumed office at the German Institute.

Writing in a statement posted on the institute's website, Prinz said he looks forward to cooperating with Germany's Taiwanese and foreign partners as well as with the other German organizations here in Taiwan.

Prinz replaces Martin Eberts, who left Taipei last week after four years as head of the de facto German embassy in Taiwan.

Prinz is expected to serve for at least four years in Taiwan, and was Germany's ambassador to Bangladesh from 2015 to 2018.

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Sanyi_1
Nick Aspinwall
Illegally logged or poached wood products end up in stores like this one Sanyi, Miaoli County.

Police in Nantou and Chiayi counties have broken-up an illegal logging ring after investigators followed the trail of a bank transaction slip found in a garbage bag in a forested area.

Law enforcement officials said the garbage bag was found by police and workers from the Nantou Forest District Office and was searched because it was an unusual find in the sparsely populated mountainous area.

The bank transfer slip was traced to a missing Vietnamese migrant worker and further investigation led to a suspect who was known to hire illegal workers.

The Nantou District Prosecutors' Office said the 48-year-old suspect had a record of drug offenses and violations of the Forest Act and he hired four illegal Vietnamese nationals to gather timber, which was then sold to the owner of an artifacts store in Chiayi.

The five suspects have been handed over to prosecutors for further investigations.

But police say they are still searching for three other illegal Vietnamese workers believed to have been involved.

This news bulletin was provided courtesy of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), Taiwan’s leading English-language broadcaster.

Read Next: Contraband for Sale: How Poachers Supply Sanyi's Thriving Wood Art Market

Editor: David Green