What you need to know
Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.
The Taoyuan Pilots Union said it will announce a possible strike date on August 20 if China Airlines and EVA Airways fail to offer its members better working conditions. The pilots have threatened to take strike action during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday next month.
The statement comes after union members voted overwhelmingly in favor of strike action. According to the union, about 99 percent of the China Airlines pilots and 97 percent of the EVA Air pilots who cast ballots voted in favor of a strike after negotiations broke down.
The union and airlines have held several rounds of talks to discuss pay issues, time off and how days off are defined. However, union executive director Chen Hsiang-lin (陳祥麟) said the airlines have failed to contact the union over the past month when its members were voting to take strike action.
Both China Airlines and EVA Air are denying that charge and say they have never avoided negotiations and are still hoping for further talks to avoid a strike.
Transport Minister Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀) said the government is seeking to intervene in the dispute, saying that the transport and labor ministries would mediate negotiations between the union and airline management to help them reach consensus.
According to Wu, the government also hopes both the airlines and the union will take passengers' rights and aviation safety into consideration before any strike action is taken.
Wu is also warning about a possible backlash against China Airlines’ filing of a provisional injunction to prevent the union from going on strike until a court ruling stipulates that their action is legitimate. He says his office was unaware of China Airlines taking such an action and there is concern such move could break the trust between the airlines and the pilots.
In other aviation news, Transport Minister Wu said his agency is considering punitive measures against the 44 foreign airlines which adhered to China’s demands to change Taiwan’s designation on its website.
U.S. and international airlines met a July 25 deadline set by China to list Taiwan as being a part of China. The transport agency proposed banning those carriers from using airport jet bridges to disembark passengers or moving their flights to less favorable time slots. However, DPP legislative caucus secretary-general Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) insists these countermeasures only exist on paper.
According to The Washington Post, Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, said such measures would be unprecedented.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said, suggesting that in the runup to this fall’s local elections, leaders “don’t want to be seen as impotent in the face of Chinese pressure.”
Prosecutors have searched the office of the Chinese Unity Promotion Party (CUPP), and the home of party head Chang An-le (張安樂), the former gangster known as the “White Wolf” (白狼), on suspicion of receiving funding from China to financing its November local election campaigns.
The homes of other leading party figures, including Chang's son, Chang Wei (張瑋), have also been searched.
Prosecutors took four party employees away for questioning following the raids, all of whom have now been released without bail. However, several party members, including Chang An-le, have been summoned for further questioning.
The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office says it formed a task force in September of last year to investigate Chang's political party and its association with organized crime. According to prosecutors, Chang and his party are under investigation for violating the National Security Act, the Political Donations Act, and the Organized Crime Prevention Act.
Chang, who used to be the leader of the Bamboo Union (竹聯幫) gang, is denying any wrongdoing.
Local business groups say they are not optimistic about the National Development Council (NDC)’s new economic immigration bill, as it fails to include investment immigration. The statement comes after the NDC released a draft of the bill that targets professionals, mid-level skilled workers, and Taiwanese expats and their children.
General Chamber of Commerce Chairman Lai Cheng-yi (賴正鎰) said the government's decision to remove the exclude the option of investment immigration is a rejection of funds that could be invested in Taiwan. Tsai Lian-sheng (蔡練生), the secretary-general of the Chinese National Federation of Industries, said the exclusion blocks foreign investment in Taiwan and is a missed opportunity to promote economic activity.
According to NDC deputy chief Gao Xian-gui (高仙桂), investment immigration was excluded from the draft act because Taiwan already has fairly accommodating regulations on investment immigration compared with other countries. Currently, people who invest NT$15 million (US$490,000) in a business that employs five or more people or who invest NT$30 million (US$980,000) or more in government bonds or other financial products are eligible to apply for permanent residence after three years.
The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee has evidence the China Youth Corps is affiliated to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), according to committee head Lin Feng-cheng (林峰正). He said the corps were established under the KMT's guidance, late President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) served as its first director, and its ties with the KMT are proven by historical records.
The committee has frozen the youth corps' assets, which are currently valued at NT$5.6 billion (US$183 million). The youth corps has also been ordered to declare all its properties, including 15 youth activity centers around Taiwan, to the committee within four months.
A spokesperson for the China Youth Corps said it was only affiliated with the government until 1969 and registered as an NGO in 1989. KMT spokesman Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) is also denying any affiliation between the party and the youth corps.
Premier William Lai (賴清德) said the government is actively preparing for negotiations over Taiwan's admission to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership and still hopes to join the regional trade bloc during its second round of accession talks.
According to Lai, government officials have been conducting mock talks to examine related issues as they look to step up preparedness for possible scenarios that could result from the negotiations.
Lai says the government's top trade negotiator John Deng (鄧振中) has assembled a team to play each of the 11 countries that are signatories to the trade agreement and engage in mock negotiations with a delegation representing Taiwan.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership is expected to solicit a second-wave of applicants at the end of this year or early next year. The premier said that as a member of the World Trade Organization, Taiwan is eligible to join the trade bloc and its economic stature would bring benefits to all member states.
The Council of Agriculture is planning to introduce demonstration farmland and "plant doctor" services to help promote organic farming, according to Agriculture Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢). He said the move is in response to the Organic Agriculture Promotion Act, which will come into force next May.
Lin says some 20,000 hectares of fertile, vacant land owned by Tai-Sugar in Yunlin County's Huwei Township will be designated for organic farming and will be used to educate small farmers on eco-friendly farming methods. Officials say the aim of the project is to help "institutionalize" organic farming and expand the scale of organic farms across the country.
Figures show that land given over to organic farming currently stands at 10,000 hectares, which constitutes roughly 1.2 percent of the island's total farmland. The government plans to increase organic farmland to 15,000 hectares, or 1.89 percent, by 2020.
The Lamigo Monkeys baseball team terminated the contract of 22-year-old Luke Heimlich after finding itself embroiled in controversy. Heimlich, a former star pitcher at Oregon State University, is also a convicted child molester.
The Taoyuan-based team initially said it had reached a deal with Heimlich, who arrived in Taiwan Tuesday and was planning to practice with the Monkey's minor league team.
However, the five-time Taiwan Series champions were criticized for the signing, as Heimlich had been found guilty of child molestation in the US. Heimlich pleaded guilty, at the age of 15, to sexually molesting his six-year-old niece.
Heimlich has denied the allegations, saying he pleaded guilty to "quickly dispense with the case and for the sake of family relations."
The CPBL, which has the authority to decide whether players are eligible to play in the league, nullified the signing on Tuesday, reportedly citing its "zero tolerance policy" on players with criminal records.
The government says it is working on plans to send post-earthquake relief to Indonesia following Sunday's magnitude 6.9 earthquake that struck the island of Lombok.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said the government is in talks with officials in Indonesia in order to get a better understanding of the current needs of the people affected by the earthquake.
According to Lee, the government is also planning to join forces with the private sector to offer financial disaster relief funding and is still working out the size of the donation and where it should be spent.
Officials say all Taiwanese tourists in area affected by the earthquake are safe.
The Taiwan High Court has sentenced a Vietnamese man to 15 years in prison for murder and causing bodily harm. The ruling upholds a lower court's verdict in the case but reduces Bui Tien-dung's sentence on from 16.5 to 15 years.
Bui was convicted of stabbing another Vietnamese national to death and injuring two other people in New Taipei last year following an argument at a restaurant.
He will be deported after he has served his 15-year prison sentence.
The government says sports lottery sales got a big boost in June from the World Cup.
Figures show sports lottery revenue totaled about NT$5.06 billion (US$165.3 million) in June, some 70 percent higher than posted in the same month in of last year, as interest spiked due to the soccer tournament in Russia.
The government says sports lottery sales for the first half of 2018 rose 11.3 percent year -on-year to stand at NT$20.41 billion, largely on the back of June's performance. Sports lottery tickets accounted for almost 30 percent of the NT$69.1 billion of lottery sales in the six-month period.
Proceeds from sports lottery sales are allocated to sports development.
The Air Force's S-70C helicopters will be making their last public appearance this weekend at the Chiayi Air Base before being replaced by UH-60M Black Hawks next year.
Taiwan has 16 S-70Cs, 13 of which were bought in 1986 and three that were purchased in 1998. They are now listed under the Air Force rescue group, and the helicopters have been involved in hundreds of rescue missions since their deployment in the last 1980s.
They helped carry out relief and evacuation operations following the 1999 magnitude 7.3 earthquake and again in 2009 in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot.
An article co-authored by a Taiwanese professor has been nominated by a leading European academic and educational publisher as among a list of world-changing articles.
The Ministry of Science says the article was written by honorary professor Lin Fu-lai (林福來) from the National Taiwan Normal University and four other distinguished academics from the Netherlands, the United States, South Africa and Japan.
The 18-page article, titled "What Mathematics Education May Prepare Students for the Society of the Future?" was among 250 articles nominated by Springer Nature, which selects scientific findings for its Change the World, One Article at a Time initiative.
The article discusses the mathematics students need to engage in society, especially with the increase in technology and digitalization. The authors also raise questions about what mathematical proficiency means in today's world and what shifts need to be made in content and pedagogy to prepare students for 21st century skills and mathematical reasoning.
This news bulletin was provided courtesy of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), Taiwan’s leading English-language broadcaster.
TNL Editor: Nick Aspinwall