Taiwan News: Thousands Protest Pollution in Kaohsiung, Mayoral Debate in Taipei

Taiwan News: Thousands Protest Pollution in Kaohsiung, Mayoral Debate in Taipei
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Environmentalists and civic groups in Kaohsiung protested yesterday for cleaner air, angered by air pollution caused by coal-fired power generators and factory emissions.

The 2018 Anti-Air Pollution Rally was organized by a coalition of environmental and health groups, including Southern Taiwan Anti-Air Pollution Alliance and Air Clean Taiwan's Kaohsiung branch.

Southern Taiwan Anti-Air Pollution Alliance convener Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) estimated that nearly 5,000 people attended the rally.

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Credit: Nick Aspinwall
The Dalin coal-fired power plant, seen behind Dalinpu's Fonglin Temple, has been identified by protesters as a major pollutant in Kaohsiung,

Read More: In South Taiwan, a Polluted Village Prepares for Relocation

Taking issue with Taiwan's newly amended Air Pollution Control Act, the protesters called for the revocation of a clause on a carbon emission offset system that allows companies to register a reduction in emissions at one facility while offsetting their quota elsewhere.

Another issue raised by the protesters was the state-owned CPC Corporation Taiwan's plan to build a petrochemical plant in Kaohsiung.

Protesters were also unhappy with a proposal to build a petrochemical plant near an elementary school.

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The incumbent Taipei mayor touted his performance record as an independent politician amid a flurry of criticism from his various opponents at a debate on Saturday.

Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said many of his policies over the past four years have proven effective, mainly because he is not affiliated with any political party, and he promised to build on that success if he is reelected on Nov. 24 for a second term.

In a live television presentation by four of the five Taipei mayoral candidates, Ko said he has changed the city's political culture since he was elected mayor in 2014 as an independent candidate.

For example, he said, he has been able to recruit talent across party lines and implement reforms that could not be carried by previous mayors of either the Kuomintang (KMT) or Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) because of political party considerations.

However, DPP candidate Pasuya Yao (姚文智) refuted Ko's assessment of his own performance, saying the Taipei City government has a very low rate of policy implementation compared with the central government.

Yao said Ko carried out less than 55 percent of the city government's plans in 2015, 56 percent in 2016, and 60 percent in 2017, while the central government averaged an implementation rate of 90 percent over the three-year period.

Independent candidate Wu E-yang (吳萼洋) caused a stir on social media after he said during the debate he would provide free honey lemonade to the public to reduce health insurance costs, and would offer pineapple cakes to Taiwan's diplomatic allies to counter pineapple overproduction and prevent Taiwan's allies from switching their recognition to Beijing.

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Credit: Mk2010 / CC BY-SA 3.0
Pineapple cakes: Can they help Taiwan retain its diplomatic allies?

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President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) urged overseas Taiwanese to vote in upcoming local elections.

Tsai issued a call for citizens living abroad to return home and cast their ballots, saying it would be in the interest of safeguarding democracy.

Tsai said: "The whole world is watching whether Taiwan's people will vote for a China-leaning party or chose one that is committed to democracy and human rights."

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Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba Group smashed its own sales record for "Singles Day," reporting US$30.8 billion in sales on Sunday, Nov. 11.

The figure is a 27 percent jump over its previous record, which it set in 2017.

However, its 2017 sales marked a 40 percent jump over its previous record – and Alibaba's sales have slowed overall this year in the midst of domestic competition and a trade war with the United States.

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Credit: Reuters / Aly Song
Alibaba Group co-founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma attends Alibaba Group's 11/11 Singles' Day global shopping festival in Shanghai, China, Nov. 12, 2018.

"Singles Day," held annually on Nov. 11 (11/11), has become an online shopping bonanza in China and throughout much of the Chinese-speaking world, along with Southeast Asia.

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Taiwan joined the worldwide Ringing of Bells ceremony for Remembrance Day yesterday.

Bells rang out at 11 a.m. as the country joined the rest of the world in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Director of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society Michael Hurst said, "We are showing here in Taiwan, half a world away, our solidarity with all those in England, France, Belgium, and the other Allied countries."

As the bell in a nearby temple tolled, participants in the service observed a moment of silence to mark the 1918 signing of the armistice between Germany and WWI Allies, exactly 100 years ago.

British Representative to Taiwan Catherine Nettleton said the service was held to remember the people who had fought and died in WWI, WWII and other conflicts and to reflect on how to create a better future.

According to the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society, the Japanese captured more than 200,000 Allied POWs during WWII in places such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Philippines and sent them to Taiwan, Thailand, Myanmar and elsewhere to serve as slaves.

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A power plant in Kaohsiung will be going green.

The Environmental Protection Administration say all four coal-fired generators at the Hsinta Power Plant will be phased out over the next six years and replaced with natural gas-powered units.

Responding to calls by protesters for cleaner air in the city, the EPA says two of the coal-fired generators at the plant are scheduled to be decommissioned in 2023, and the other two a year later.

In a statement issued in the wake of the protests in Kaohsiung on Sunday by several environmental groups, the EPA said efforts are also being made to reduce emissions from other industrial plants in the city.

The EPA also says it will continue to seek consensus on revisions to the Air Pollution Control Act and will offer advice to help the Kaohsiung City government attain its annual goals for improving air quality.

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Members of the German orchestra Berliner Philharmoniker said Sunday in Taipei that they were very much looking forward to playing at the new Weiwuying Concert Hall in Kaohsiung.

They will be the first international orchestra to play in the new concert hall in Kaohsiung.

Media chairman and second violin Stanley Dodds commended Taiwan for having the foresight to build an extensive cultural center, realizing that culture is the heart and spirit of every society.

It is the Berliner Philharmoniker's fifth visit to Taiwan, the first being in 2005, but is the first time for Venezuelan superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

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Credit: YouTube Screenshot
The National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts at Weiwuying.

Dudamel said he watched the films of the orchestra's previous performances in Taiwan and was very impressed with the audience.

Mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford said the audiences in Taiwan are known for their love of music. She said she gets the impression that classical music is like pop music here in Taiwan.

The Berliner Philharmoniker arrived in Taiwan on Saturday on the second leg of its Asian concert tour. It hosted a concert at the National Concert Hall in Taipei Sunday, with a second concert scheduled for Tuesday.

The concert in Kaohsiung will begin at 7 p.m. on Nov. 14. A live broadcast will be available at the Weiwuying's outdoor theater, at the Pingtung Performing Arts Center, and on Chunghwa Telecom MOD service.

The Kaohsiung concert will also be broadcast live from the Digital Concert Hall, the Berliner Philharmoniker's online concert venue.

Read Next: OPINION: Kaohsiung's Skyline Is Dotted with Expensive White Elephants

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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