Taiwan News: Mayor Ko Files Defamation Suit, Shark Boat Catches Fine

Taiwan News: Mayor Ko Files Defamation Suit, Shark Boat Catches Fine
Photo Credit: 「柯文哲」臉書粉專

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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.

Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) is taking legal action against a American writer who claims the Taipei mayor was involved in live organ harvesting in China.

Ethan Gutmann earlier this week told reporters that Ko acted as a broker for rich Taiwanese seeking to receive organ transplants across the Strait.

Gutmann also claimed Ko created "incentives" for Chinese doctors to harvest live organs and was aware many of those organs came from Falun Gong members.

Ko has filed a defamation lawsuit against Gutmann at the Taipei District Prosecutors Office.

The mayor said he was forced to take legal action against Gutmann because he failed to issue an apology for his remarks.

Ko added that he believes Gutmann is acting as a political pawn in the run up to next month's local government elections.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)is denying allegations that it invited Gutmann to Taiwan. Various polling suggests Ko maintains a healthy lead in his bid to secure a second four-year term at next month's election, while the DPP candidate, Pasuya Yao (姚文智) lies in third place.

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The Fisheries Agency has fined the operator and captain of a fishing boat a total of NT$11.4 million (US$370,000) for catching prohibited species of shark.

Officials launched an inspection into the Jin Chang 6 after 30 tons of silky sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks were found on the vessel after it arrived at Kaohsiung's Xiaogang Fishing Harbor on Sept. 13.

The boat had been operating in waters east of Papua New Guinea since June. The illegal catch was confiscated and destroyed.

Fisheries Agency officials said the heavy fine is a warning to other fishing boat operators not to engage in illegal fishing practices.

The owner of the Jin Chang 6 has been fined NT$9.5 million and had the boat's fishing license suspended for six months, while the captain has been fined NT$1.9 million and has also had his operating license suspended for six months.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu is confident APEC can resist Chinese attempts to meddle with its participation in the regional economic body.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said Thursday that China's efforts to inhibit Taiwan's participation at next months APEC leaders meeting are having little affect.

According to Wu, China has made several attempts to introduce its "one-China" principle into APEC's operating framework, and has asked that APEC references to Taiwan be changed to "Chinese Taipei" while also trying to block many of Taiwan's proposals.

Wu said China's "little tricks" have caused some small twists and turns, but will hardly affect Taiwan's overall participation in APEC.

The statement comes after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced that Morris Chang (張忠謀) will represent Taiwan at the APEC leaders' summit in Papua New Guinea.

The U.S.' deputy assistant secretary and senior official for APEC told reporters in Taiwan last month that Washington remains supportive of Taiwan's full membership in APEC and will ensure that status will not be compromised.

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Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) has said the government is committed to improving the registry of organ transplants performed overseas on Taiwan residents.

According to Chen, his office is seeking to ensure greater transparency and to avoid human rights violations that could occur when organs are obtained from questionable sources.

The statement comes as the health ministry is facing questions about alleged loopholes in Taiwan's organ transplant registry system, which have been highlighted by the low registration rate of transplants performed overseas.

Taiwanese nationals who return home after an organ transplant overseas are required to provide information about the source of the organ, the country and hospital where the transplant was performed, and the name of the chief surgeon.

However, only 5.6 percent of the 3,128 Taiwan residents who had organ transplants overseas between April 2005 and August of this year have registered that information.

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The Criminal Investigation Bureau has said local authorities have successfully raided the offices of several underground money transfer operations.

The raids are part of anti-money laundering campaign that was launched in September.

Law enforcement officials say 72 people were arrested and nearly NT$500 million in illegal cash was seized during raids on establishments purporting to be warehouses and brokerage agencies.

The move comes as the central government looks to clampdown on money laundering ahead of next month's local elections.

The crackdown also comes as the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) is reviewing its third evaluation of Taiwan to determine whether the island is complying with international standards.

The APG is an inter-governmental organization consisting of 41 member jurisdictions that seeks to ensure international standards against money laundering and terrorist financing.

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The Supreme Court is rejecting a 10-year sentence handed down to the main suspect in the December 2016 overdose of a 21-year-old model.

The woman died after attending what authorities have described as a "drug party," which took place at the W Hotel in Taipei.

The Supreme Court ruling means the case against Andy Chu (朱家龍), who prosecutors said organized the party, and two other suspects will be returned to the High Court for retrial.

According to the Supreme Court ruling, prosecutors failed to properly investigate the death and didn't present enough evidence to prove that Chu provided the deadly drug cocktail to the woman, who was found to have between 11-15 drugs in her system when she died.

The High Court in May of this year rejected an appeal by five people convicted of drug-offenses in connection with the woman's death.

Although Chu and two other suspects will have a retrial, two other suspects who were found guilty of drug dealing will have to serve out their sentences.

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The External Trade Development Council is calling on the government to push for the signing of a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S.

Council Vice Chairman Chuang Suo-hang (莊碩漢) said now is the perfect time to pursue such a deal due to U.S. President Donald Trump's preference for bilateral trade agreements with friendly countries.

Chuang made the call at the opening of the annual U.S. Business Day.

This year's event saw the participation of 12 U.S. companies and 108 Taiwanese suppliers.

The External Trade Development Council said it generated US$168.3 million in new business opportunities.

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A delegation of Vatican officials will visit Taiwan later this month for a joint seminar with the Fo Guang Shan buddhist monastery, which is the largest in Taiwan.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the monastery will hold an international Christian-Buddhist symposium in Kaohsiung.

And some 60 participants from 16 countries will attend the seminar to promote mutual understanding between the two religions.

The director of the the Holy See's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the director of the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network and Eucharist Youth Movement will be heading the Vatican's delegation.

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The National Day Celebrations Organization Committee has said this year's Double Ten parade will feature athletes who competed at the Asian Games and lighthouse keepers.

According to Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), members of the Asian Games team will be riding 24 floats at the parade and their participation is aimed at celebrating their performance in Indonesia this summer.

Su said six lighthouse keepers will lead the singing of the ROC national anthem outside the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard in order to show Taiwan as an ocean country and highlight the ideas of "protecting and guiding."

This year's parade will also feature the Minhe Junior High School choir from Nantou, which made headlines in July after a performance at the United Nations World Peace Choral Festival in Vienna was canceled due to pressure from China.

This year's national day fireworks display will be taking place in Hualien.

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Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) has said Australian passport holders are now eligible to use automated immigration clearance system at the country's airports.

Australian passports can also enroll free of charge for Taiwan's e-Gate system for speedy immigration clearance.

The program is part of a reciprocal agreement between Taipei and Canberra that also allows Taiwanese passport holders to take advantage of Australia's Arrivals SmartGates self-processing e-passport control system.

Australia announced the opening of its Arrivals SmartGates to eligible Taiwanese ePassport holders in November of last year.

The National Immigration Agency implemented the mutual use of automated clearance services with the United States in November 2017 and with South Korea in June this year.

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The Taipei City government will be holding its now annual Nuit Blanche arts festival tomorrow evening.

The event begins at 6:00 p.m. tomorrow and runs through 6:00 a.m. on Sunday.

City officials say events will be taking place on Zhongshan North Road sections one through three as well as in the city's Shuanglian and Yuanshan areas.

The all-night contemporary arts festival features artists from here in Taiwan as well as from France, Canada, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The works this year will revolve around the theme "Upside Down" and organizers say they explore the relationship between day and night, in and out, tradition and modernity, prosperity and decline and dynamism and stability.

Traffic controls will be in place from 4 p.m. tomorrow in areas where the Nuit Blanche all-night arts festival will be taking place.

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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