Taiwan News: Pride Parade Draws Thousands, TRA Says Puyuma Trains Safe

Taiwan News: Pride Parade Draws Thousands, TRA Says Puyuma Trains Safe
Credit: Reuters / Tyrone Siu
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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.

The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said it has completed safety checks on all of its 18 Puyuma Express trains and found no defects that could impact the service's safety.

The rail network began carrying out the safety checks following last Sunday's derailment. TRA officials said each Puyuma Express underwent testing for faults in its running gear, transmission devices, pantograph apparatus, power systems, protection systems, connectors, high-voltage insulators, and auxiliary parts.

The findings will now be presented to a Cabinet task force investigating the Oct. 21 derailment in Yilan.

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Credit: Reuters / Yimou Lee
An overturned train is seen in Yilan, Taiwan Oct. 22, 2018.

However, there are still questions about the safety of Puyuma Express trains following reports about numerous mechanical glitches in the past.

Apple Daily reported that there were 35 reported problems with the train system from Oct. 22 through Oct. 26, and 10 of them were related to the automatic train protection system. The newspaper cited sources as saying three of the 10 were reported on three Puyuma express trains.

The Consumers' Foundation is calling on the Taiwan Railways Administration to suspend Puyuma Express train service until the cause of the derailment is determined.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said the government will carry out drastic reform of the rail administration in order to restore public confidence in the safety of railway travel.

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Taipei's annual gay pride parade drew tens of thousands to the streets on Saturday, with many participants calling for a "Yes" vote on an upcoming Nov. 24 referendum measure on marriage equality.

In May 2017, Taiwan's highest court gave lawmakers two years to legalize same-sex marriage. However, as the deadline approaches, dueling referendums backed by both proponents and opponents of gay marriage have made it onto the Nov. 24 ballots.

Gay rights advocates have been critical of President Tsai for her government's perceived inaction on following through with the court mandate to legalize same-sex marriage.

The referendum measures create a very real chance that the public could vote against same-sex marriage, potentially creating a conflict between the court ruling and the popular mandate.

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Credit: 婚姻平權大平台-相挺為平權,全民撐同志 / Facebook

Read More: OPINION: Tsai Has Only Herself to Blame If Marriage Equality Referendums Fail

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The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) is calling for the government to amend the National Security Act (NSA) to counter false information spread via the internet amid fears of Chinese meddling in Taiwanese affairs.

Chou Ni-an (周倪安), a former legislator of the pro-independence TSU, said at a news conference that the government has been passive in countering misinformation and disinformation spread by potentially hostile actors, popularly referred to as "fake news."

"We must punish traitors among us and counter disinformation from China to ensure the safety of Taiwanese democracy," said TSU spokesperson Yeh Chih-yuan (葉智遠), speaking in favor of stricter laws to counter Chinese disinformation.

Government sources indicated they were mulling changes to the NSA to counter disinformation after false reports from Kansai Airport in Osaka after Typhoon Jebi caused a torrent of public criticism directed at the office of diplomat Su Chii-cherng (蘇啟誠), who took his own life on Sept. 14.

Many free speech and media watchdogs, however, are sharply opposed to any legislative measures to counter disinformation.

Read More: Taiwan Takes Centerstage in Global Fight Against 'Fake News'

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In election news, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) met on Sunday with about 400 business leaders and promoted the investment potential of a Taipei under his stewardship.

Ko criticized the investment records of his opponents, Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) hopeful Pasuya Yao (姚文智), both of whom held their own rallies in Taipei on Sunday.

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Credit: KP / CC BY-SA 2.0
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (L).

Elsewhere, the Taipei Times reports that officials in four municipalities are investigating allegations of vote buying.

A Tainan neighborhood warden candidate was probed after he "handed out red envelopes with his name that contained NT$1,000 (US$32.25)," according to Tainan deputy chief prosecutor Ko Yi-ling (柯怡伶). "He said it was just a gift to local residents in celebration of a recent national holiday," said Ko.

Officials in Chiayi, Changhua, and Hualien counties are also being investigated.

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Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said cooperation with New Southbound Policy target countries in medicine and healthcare can serve as a platform for Taiwan to enhance industrial collaboration with partners and play a leading role in regional public health promotion.

Speaking at the opening of the Global Health Forum in Taipei, Chen also highlighted the importance of "access to healthcare for all."

According to Chen, the growing burden of an aging population and increasing chronic diseases has made it imperative for all countries, including Taiwan, to prioritize improving the quality of its healthcare and social welfare systems.

Chen cited the National Health Insurance system as an example, saying it is now globally renowned for providing citizens with easy access to medical services.

The vice president went on to say the Ministry of Health has introduced further measures since 2016 to improve access to healthcare for disadvantaged people and residents in remote areas and is also now working more closely with local governments.

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The government expressed its condolences to the victims of a mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that left 11 people dead.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) contacted American Institute in Taiwan director, Brent Christensen immediately after being informed of the attack and expressed his deep sympathy and condolences for those killed in the incident on behalf of the government.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wu also condemned the senseless violence against those in Pittsburgh in what was one of the deadliest attacks against the Jewish community in U.S. history.

Wu said Taiwan stands side by side with the people of the United States and opposes violence and discrimination in any form.

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Germany's new top envoy to Taiwan said he supports the Tsai administration's plans to install more capacity for renewable energy as it moves toward phasing out nuclear power by 2025.

According to Thomas Prinz, based on his understanding, the Taiwan government's plan to substitute nuclear energy is "very realistic and can be achieved."

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Credit: CEphoto / Uwe Aranas
Maanshan Nuclear Power Plant in Hengchun, Pingtung.

The new director general of the German Institute Taipei is also voicing his support for Taiwan's participation in global forums, such as the World Health Assembly and Interpol.

Prinz said Germany recognizes "the constructive role Taiwan plays in international affairs" and Berlin supports Taiwan wherever it can in the framework of its "One China" policy.

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The Ministry of Science said the island's three science parks have set up a special task force to help overseas Taiwanese businesses relocate their operations to Taiwan.

The statement comes as the ministry is set to submit a report to the Legislative Yuan later today concerning government plans to help Taiwanese businesses return and invest here.

According to the report, the administrations of the three science parks have established a center to accept applications to relocate operations back to Taiwan.

Under the ministry's plan, such investment cases will be each assigned a project manager who will provide customized services for business planning.

The special task force will also conduct inter-ministerial coordination to help meet their needs and assistance will also be offered to meet returning companies' manpower needs by building talent pools and holding job fairs.

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Taiwan's Hsu Wei-ling (徐薇淩) finished in sixth place after shooting a 7-under-par 281 at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship.

Hsu tied with Lydia Ko of New Zealand for sixth place out of 81 competitors at the Ta Shee Golf & Country Club in Taoyuan.

Speaking after presenting the prizes at the closing ceremony, Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) commended Hsu's performance, saying that even though she didn't win, "her spirit deserves our warmest applause."

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

Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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