Taiwan News: Taipei Mayor Ko Snarls at DPP 'Censorship'

Photo Credit:AP/達志影像
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Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) is questioning a threat by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to expel party members who back his re-election campaign -- describing the move as "censorship."

The statement comes after DPP Deputy Secretary-General Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) told reporters earlier this week that any member who backs Ko after Aug. 31, which is the deadline for candidate registrations ahead of the November local elections, will have to leave the party or face expulsion.

The DPP has already taken action to remove one Taipei borough warden nominee from its list of possible candidates, after incumbent Nangang District Borough Warden Chiu Pi-chu (邱碧珠) voiced his his support for Ko.

While DPP member and current Taipei Department of Civil Affairs Commissioner Lan Shih-tsung (藍世聰) is also expected to be targeted by the party for his ongoing support for the city mayor.

The move by the DPP to expel members who back Ko is being reported as an attempt to increase support for its Taipei mayoral candidate, Pasuya Yao - who is running third in public support polls in the city, behind Ko and the opposition Kuomintang (KMT)'s Ting Shou-chung (丁守中).

Yao is denying that claim.

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Economics Minister Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) has sought to calm fears of a sharp increase in electricity prices by insisting that state-generator Taiwan Power Co. must abide by a mechanism limiting price hikes to 3 percent every six months.

Taipower is seeking to increase electricity rates by 7 percent to offset rising fuel costs.

Taipower said it has incurred loses of NT$24 billion (US$783 million) in the first six months of this year, extending a loss of NT$7.1 billion in the same period a year earlier, on the back of increases in the prices of crude oil, gas and coal on the global market.

Fuel imports reportedly amounted to 60 percent of Taipower's generating costs during the January to June period.

Increased generation from relatively expensive natural gas as a result of more stringent anti-pollution controls was also blamed for the poor results.

However, Minister Shen said any electricity rate hike is limited to 3 percent every six months, and that the difference in costs would be compensated for by a NT$79 billion stabilization fund. Taipower last raised its electricity prices in April.

He also said that Taipower should be able to raise its operating reserve margin to 10 percent next year from the current 6 percent as new power sources come online.

Taipower was the only one of four state-owned companies under the Ministry of Economic Affairs to book a loss, after Taiwan Sugar Corp., Taiwan Water Corp., and oil refiner CPC Corp. all turned in pre-tax profits in the first half.

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蔡英文總統親自擔任原轉會召集人
Photo Credit: 原住民族委員會
President Tsai will make prolonged pitstops in the US on her way to and from Paraguay and Belize.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will leave this coming Sunday for state visits to Paraguay and Belize.

The Presidential Office said Tsai will attend the inauguration of Paraguay's President-elect Mario Abdo Benitez on Aug. 15.

She is expected to meet with the heads of state of several other countries on the sidelines of the event, and will also hold talks with Abdo Benitez and outgoing President Horacio Cartes.

Tsai will travel to Belize on Aug. 16 for a three-day visit, during which she will meet with Governor-General Colville Young and Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

Tsai will give a speech to parliament, visit Taiwan's embassy as well as cultural sites and attend a Taiwan scholarship presentation ceremony while in Belize.

Tsai will transit in Los Angeles on the first leg of the journey and in Houston on the return trip.

She will stopover for more than 24 hours in both U.S. cities.

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陳菊
Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像
Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu's US visit will coincide with President Tsai's stopover in Houston.

Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊), the former mayor of Kaohsiung, will travel to the U.S. this weekend.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Chen will visit five cities, including San Francisco, Phoenix, Salt Lake and Houston.

She will meet with Taiwan expat groups to brief them on the results of the government's various reform programs.

And she is also likely to hold talks with U.S. officials.

The foreign office said Chen's full itinerary is still in the planning stage.

But she will join President Tsai in Houston when she stops there on her return journey to Taiwan from Belize.

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The government plans to spend nearly NT$9 billion on a social innovation action plan over the next five years to help promote Taiwan's "heartwarming power".

Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) said resources for the action plan will come from 12 ministries and agencies.

According to Tang, the objective is to help Taiwan's social innovation ecosystem expand and to show the international community that the island has the ability and willingness to help solve global social issues.

Premier William Lai (賴清德) has said the plan could bring Taiwan in line with countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and strengthen links to the international community.

And Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said Lai has also directed ministries and agencies to work together to provide assistance and raise capital for the implementation and promotion of the social innovation plan.

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The Mainland Affairs Council said China has failed to inform Taiwan about an outbreak of African swine fever, despite an agreement between the two sides on epidemic prevention.

Council spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said Taiwan learned about the outbreak of the highly contagious viral disease on pig farms in China through the World Organization for Animal Health.

According to Chiu, the Council of Agriculture has now taken a series of border control measures to prevent the spread of the disease to pig farms here in Taiwan.

African swine fever is not transmittable to humans.

But Chiu said it has the potential to devastate Taiwan's pig farming sector as there is no vaccine or cure for the disease.

Taiwan and China are expected to notify each other of epidemics or sanitation issues regarding agricultural imports and exports based on a 2009 cross-Strait agreement that covers cooperation on inspection of agricultural products.

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圖為2014年首度當選台中市市長的林佳龍|Photo Credit: 林佳龍
Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung is under fire for giving away expensive gifts at a promotional event.

The KMT is accusing Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) of vote buying ahead of November's election.

According to KMT caucus whip Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), Lin has been handing out gifts such as towels, shopping bags and soap to people who have attended hearings on municipal plans for the Taichung World Flora Expo.

Chiang said several of the gifts are valued at more than NT$100 and Lin's giving them away constitutes vote-buying, as they exceed the NT$30 limit on the the handing out of promotional items.

The KMT is now calling on the Control Yuan, the government watchdog, to investigate whether Lin has broken any rules regarding the distribution of gifts to city residents.

A spokesperson for the Taichung City government is denying Lin broke election laws as the gifts were all items related to the flora expo.

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it is in contact with a group of Taiwanese students in Norway who are raising funds for a lawsuit they plan to file against the Norwegian government after it labeled them as being from China rather than Taiwan.

The planned lawsuit comes after several students were issued with visas and entry documents listing them as coming from "Taiwan, China" or "Taipei, China," in early 2017.

Similar documents had previously listed them as being from "Taiwan" or "Taipei, Taiwan."

The student group says it is seeking to raise the NT$1 million needed to appeal the case in the Norwegian courts.

If arbitration fails to reach a ruling that is satisfactory to the students, they said they are prepared to take the case to the Norwegian Immigration Appeals Board and to the European Court of Human Rights.

Foreign ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said his office has been in talks with the Norwegian government about the name-change issue and is urging it to amend the country's title as soon as possible.

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Former Bamboo Union leader, Chang An-le (張安樂) and his son Chang Wei (張瑋) are claiming the government is using the judicial system to silence them and their Chinese Unity Promotion Party.

Speaking after leaving the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office, Chang Wei told reporters that while they are willing to be questioned, but the judicial system should not be used to "persecute them".

They were questioned after prosecutors searched the office of the Chinese Unity Promotion Party and Chang An-le's home as part of an investigation into allegations they received funding from China to finance their November local election campaigns.

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.

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

Editor: David Green (@DavidPeterGreen)

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