Taiwan News: KMT's Ting Calls for Nullification in Taipei Mayoral Election

Taiwan News: KMT's Ting Calls for Nullification in Taipei Mayoral Election
Credit: 丁守中粉絲團 / Facebook
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Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), the Kuomintang (KMT) candidate for Taipei mayor, withdrew his petition for a vote recount yesterday, saying he will instead lodge a lawsuit to nullify the election after identifying major irregularities with the voting process.

Speaking with the press after withdrawing Ting's petition for a recount, his lawyer said they have received evidence from multiple sources pointing to election irregularities caused by the Central Election Commission's (CEC) failure to abide by the law.

The official result showed that incumbent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), an independent candidate, won re-election by a razor-thin margin of 0.23 percent, or 3,254 votes.

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Credit: YouTube Screenshot
Incumbent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (L) eked out a closer-than-expected victory on Saturday, but challenger Ting Shou-chung says the vote should be nullified.

Ko received 41.05 percent of the votes cast, against Ting's 40.82 percent. Pasuya Yao (姚文智) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) received 17.29 percent.

Due to the inclusion of 10 referendums in Saturday's elections, long lines were observed at polling stations across the country, with many voters saying they waited for more than two hours to cast their ballots.

Ting said people still voting after the ballots started being counted could have been influenced by the live coverage of the count.

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Some analysts are blaming Taiwan's politicians for the island's missed opportunity on same-sex marriage.

They say Taiwan could have become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage last year, but the way the politicians have dealt with the issue has allowed anti-gay rights groups to gain momentum and throw the issue into disarray.

The chairman of Taiwan Corner, a Denmark-based non-governmental organization that focuses on Taiwan, said: "It was clear that the issue could have been solved in the Legislative Yuan in late 2017."

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Credit: Reuters / TPG

Read More: Pro-LGBT Group Demands Investigation amid Allegations of Election Misconduct

The director of the Center of Taiwan Studies at SOAS, University of London, said the DPP and the KMT both deserve criticism for their handling of this issue.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) won the presidency in 2016 with a campaign to push for marriage equality, but then chose to take a passive stance. The scholars said Tsai left her supporters very disillusioned on this issue, especially among younger people.

If Taiwan were to become the first country in Asia to legalize same sex marriage, the impact on the country's soft power and international recognition would be very large. Analysts said: "It would be far greater than the traditional diplomacy goals like formal diplomatic relations."

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President Tsai said the government will be reflecting on its mistakes after Saturday's local elections.

Tsai said her ruling party will re-evaluate the government's major policies and members and make changes when necessary.

Tsai also took personal responsibility, saying "most importantly, I'm the one that needs to change."

Tsai resigned as DPP chairwoman after her party's massive defeat in the elections.

Premier William Lai (賴清德) and Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) have both agreed to retract their resignations and remain in their posts.

Whether the newly elected local officials are from the DPP or the opposition KMT, Tsai says public office is a public trust, and that all parties must work together toward the common goal of safeguarding the people's welfare.

Tsai said she has already extended her congratulations to the six elected special municipality mayors and said she will make arrangements to meet them in person.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG

Read More: OPINION: Why the DPP Lost Taiwan's Local Elections

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Premier William Lai said the Cabinet will be re-evaluating its energy policy.

Lai said he respects the result of the recent referendum related to nuclear power and will have his Cabinet work with the Legislative Yuan on the country's energy policies.

He said the details of the discussions will be disclosed to the public in due course.

His statement came after Taiwanese voted in favor of one of ten referendums that asked if voters agree with abolishing legislation that all nuclear-energy-based power-generating facilities shall cease to operate by 2025.

Lai has confirmed that the clause cited in the question will be scrapped three days after the CEC officially announces the referendum results on Friday.

It is unclear if the premier and the Legislature will make any other changes.

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Taiwan and Japan are set to hold their annual economic and trade meeting in Taipei this week.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the aim of the summit is to enhance bilateral cooperation and exchanges.

Taiwan-Japan Relations Association Head Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi will lead the delegations from their respective countries to the meeting on Thursday and Friday.

This meeting comes days after Taiwanese voted in favor of a referendum to maintain a ban on imports of agricultural and food products from areas in Japan that were affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in 2011.

Japan's top envoy to Taiwan, Mikio Numata, said the issue had been "politicized." He is calling on Taiwan and Japan to work together to avoid hurting their cordial bilateral ties and economic exchanges.

In response, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) spokesman said the ministry will cautiously engage in talks with Japan over the referendum result to seek their understanding and ensure that bilateral relations are not affected.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG

Read More: Govt Sidesteps Energy Referendums as Pro-Nuclear Group Mulls Further Action

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The date for Taipei's annual twin-city forum with Shanghai has been provisionally set for December 20th.

A Taipei City spokesman said the 2018 forum will focus on the circular economy.

Taipei has invited Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong, but it has not been confirmed whether he will attend.

The spokesman says, "Shanghai will certainly send someone of a high rank to attend, at least a deputy mayor."

According to the spokesman, Taipei's Ko Wen-je will engage in city-to-city interaction with officials from Shanghai based on five principles -- getting to know each other, mutual understanding, respect, cooperation and tolerance.

As for the forum's planned focus, he said both Taipei and Shanghai are densely populated cities, making the creation of a welcoming and sustainable living environment a key goal. He said discussions will focus on public housing, urban renewal, public health, culture and environmental protection.

The two cities have taken turns hosting the forum since 2010 and this year it is Taipei's turn to organize the event.

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Former premier Chang San-cheng (張善政) is considering running for president as an independent.

Chang, who advised KMT candidates in the recent local elections, is considering whether or not to throw his hat into the ring for the 2020 race.

The 64-year-old Chang, who now serves as chairman of the Taiwan Mobile Foundation, made the revelation Monday.

He said the idea of seeking the presidency came while stumping for some candidates running in Saturday's local government elections and having people asking him to run for office.

Considering himself as a down-to-earth kind of person, Chang says he has begun thinking about the possibility.

Chang served as premier in the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration in 2016 after the KMT suffered a bruising defeat in the presidential election in January. Before that, he had been vice premier.

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Vaccines produced by a French manufacturer have been found to contain impurities again.

Two batches of influenza vaccine made by Sanofi Pasteur have been put on hold after several doses were found to contain impurities by Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration.

A senior specialist at the FDA said the problematic vials, which came in two separate batches imported from France in October, contained suspicious white and black suspended matter. The impure doses have been sent back to the French firm for testing.

According to the FDA, the problematic doses were discovered when FDA workers opened the sealed batches to perform delivery inspections on the imported vaccines.

This is the second time products supplied by Sanofi have been found to contain impurities, after reports of problematic vaccines on October 26.

The vaccine supplier has expressed regret over the problematic vaccines, saying it will investigate the matter once it receives the samples at its laboratory in France.

Sanofi said a report on its findings will be released in three weeks.

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Investigators says poor troubleshooting was key to the deadly Puyuma train crash last month.

A Cabinet investigation found a series of mechanical malfunctions on the express train and the poor troubleshooting capability of both the train driver and the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) dispatch control room are to blame.

In addition, the head investigator said the TRA's failure to establish and implement standard operation procedures also indirectly contributed to the tragedy.

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Credit: Reuters / Eason Lam
18 people were killed and 200 injured in the Oct. 21 Yilan train derailment.

Citing the "Swiss cheese model," which is often used to determine the cause of an accident, he said the crash was the result of an accumulation of human errors, ranging from train delivery checks to follow-up maintenance work and operational issues.

Under the model, an accident takes place only when multiple layers of risks -- like holes on slices of cheese -- are not blocked but align; at that point hazards go unchecked and lead to failure.

The Puyuma train derailment on October 21 left 18 people dead and 200 injured and was the deadliest train accident in Taiwan in 37 years.

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EVA Air says it will launch three new routes to Japan and increase flights to existing Japanese destinations next year thanks to the addition of Boeing 787 Dreamliners to its fleet.

The carrier said it will start providing daily round-trip flights between Taoyuan and Nagoya in central Japan on June 6 using Boeing's fuel-saving aircraft.

EVA Air said it will also launch Taoyuan-Aomori and Taoyuan-Matsuyama routes to expand its flight network to northeastern and southern Japan, respectively, starting in the third quarter of 2019.

The leading Taiwan airline will also increase service between Taoyuan and Okinawa to two round-trip flights per day instead of the current one and service between Taoyuan and Sendai to a daily flight instead of four flights per week.

Overall, EVA will operate 146 round-trip flights between Taiwan and Japan next year, which will increase the seating capacity on routes to Japan by 10 percent.

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Taipei 101 will host the "#Party101 Jazz Night Lounge Party" on New Year's Eve in the building's office lobby area on the first floor this year for the first time ever.

In addition to jazz band performances, virtual reality games and photo sticker machines, there will be hundreds of bottles of whiskey, thousands of bottles of craft beer, soft drinks and various light refreshments for party-goers to enjoy.

The party will be limited to 1,010 patrons, of which 500 can pay extra to go up to the building's viewing platform to enjoy the view of the night's fireworks.

Tickets are scheduled to be available for purchase on Dec. 1.

Read Next: OPINION: Failure of Olympic Name Poll Shows Taiwanese Voters' Pragmatism

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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