Taiwan News: CEC Mulls Separating 2020 Presidential & Legislative Elections

Taiwan News: CEC Mulls Separating 2020 Presidential & Legislative Elections
Credit: Reuters / TPG
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Central Election Commission (CEC) Acting Chairman Chen Chao-jien (陳朝建) said his office will not make any final decision until June of next year as to whether the next presidential and legislative elections will be held separately or on the same day.

The statement comes as lawmakers continue to debate the commission's operating procedures after the recent local elections saw long lines at polling stations and some voters had to wait up to three hours to cast their ballots.

According to Chen, if the two elections are held separately, the legislative elections could take place in Nov. 2019 and the presidential election could be held in March 2020.

If the two elections are to be held together, election day would be sometime in Jan. 2020.

The presidential and legislative elections were first held together in 2012 in an effort to make the process more efficient and prevent the waste of manpower and money from holding two separate elections within a matter of months.

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A vote-by-vote recount of the ballots cast in the Taipei mayoral race is underway.

Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) had demanded a recount after losing by just 3,254 votes to incumbent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

Ting has raised concerns about irregularities, noting that vote counting began while people were still lined up to vote and those voters could see the results being tallied.

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Credit: Pool via AP
KMT mayoral candidate Ting Shou-chung speaks in a TV debate in Taipei on Nov. 10, 2018.

Ko says he is not worried that the recounts will produce any change in results, as representatives of Ting's campaign team had monitored the vote count on election day.

The recount must be finished by Dec. 19, or 20 days after the ballot boxes have been sealed, according to the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act.

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Taichung mayor-elect Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) said she could withhold power generating permits for the city's coal-fired power plant if the central government fails to help tackle air pollution in Central Taiwan.

Speaking in a radio interview, Lu reiterated her election campaign argument that Taichung's air pollution is due to the city becoming a power generator for Northern Taiwan and said the only way to tackle the problem is to withhold permits from Taipower.

According to Lu, Taichung's air pollution was not as bad before the power plant began burning more coal in order to boost power generation to feed the north's need for electricity.

Lu said this is unfair to the people of Central Taiwan, who have been forced to suffer worsening air pollution as a result of the Tsai administration's energy policies.

The mayor-elect went on to say she will could revoke permits for one or two of the plant's generators, claiming such a move would enable her administration to negotiate the matter with the central government.

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Entrepreneur Kenneth Yen (嚴凱泰) has died. He was 54.

Yen was chairman of the Yulon Group and had been undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital for over two years.

The Yulon Group says Yen was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and had been battling the condition until his death on Monday.

He is survived by his wife Lilian Chen (嚴陳莉蓮), who will take over as the group's chief executive officer, his 13-year-old daughter, Michelle, and four-year-old son, John.

A statement by the family said they will follow the late entrepreneur's wishes to not send out announcements of his death, hold a public funeral ceremony, set up a mourning hall or accept floral bouquets.

Yen went to study in the United States at the age of 14 and returned to Taiwan ten years later, when he took the post of Yulon's deputy general manager before officially taking over as the company's chairman a year later.

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Taipower said it will suspend the return of unused fuel rods from the mothballed fourth nuclear power plant to the United States until the government makes a final decision on whether to alter its energy policy.

Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) has said the government will announce a new energy policy within two months following passage of a referendum that rejected the government's goal to make Taiwan nuclear power free by 2025.

台湾第四原子力発電所
Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0
The mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao, New Taipei City.

According to Taipower President Chung Bin-li (鐘炳利), the company has no plans to ship out the unused rods until the Ministry of Economic Affairs presents its new policy.

A legislative resolution made in January requires that all of the 1,744 unused fuel rod bundles purchased to operate the power plant be shipped back to the U.S. by 2020.

Taipower sent 200 unused fuel rod bundles to the U.S. in two batches in July and September.

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A deadline for the decommissioning of the first reactor at the First Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei will not be met due to questions over how to deal with the plant's nuclear waste.

The Jinshan Power Plant began commercial operations in 1978.

Under its 40-year operating license, the reactor was set to be decommissioned starting tomorrow while the plant's second reactor is scheduled for decommissioning on July 15 next year.

The plan to decommission the two reactors included the construction of an outdoor storage yard at the plant site for the dry storage of spent nuclear fuel. That facility was built in 2013.

However, it has yet to pass a New Taipei government inspection needed to obtain an operating permit, leaving the decommissioning process in limbo.

Taipower has planned to build an indoor storage facility, but the company says that will take at least 10 years to build, which could delay the decommissioning process by at least a decade.

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The co-chair of the United Nations NGO Committee on Human Rights is warning of the dangers of putting human rights issues to the vote.

According to Bruce Knotts, human right issues "should never be put to a vote as Taiwan has just done with regard to same-sex couples."

Knotts said Taiwan's Constitution guarantees the rights of same-sex couples to marriage equality, but the Protestant Christian churches decided to hold the referendums in opposition to the interpretation issued by the Constitutional Court.

He added that a similar referendum was held in Germany in the 1930s, when the German Parliament passed the Nuremburg Laws that striped Jews of their civil rights.

Knotts made the comments at the 2018 International Forum on Freedom and Democracy in Taipei, which was organized by the World League for Freedom and Democracy.

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The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine says hundreds of smuggled foreign meat products have been seized and the owners fined since September.

61.1 percent of those products originated in China.

According to the government agency, a total of 2,179 meat products, brought into the country illegally between Sep. 1 and this month, have been confiscated by customs officers as part of efforts to keep African swine fever out of Taiwan.

Officials say since quarantine for imported meat products was stepped up in August 493 meat goods seized have come from China, and three of them have been found to contain the African swine fever virus.

Meat products from Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Ukraine and India have also been seized.

People caught bringing foreign meat products into Taiwan now face a fine of up to NT$1 million (US$32,553).

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Credit: Reuters / Dominique Patton
Workers sort cuts of fresh pork in a processing plant of pork producer WH Group in Zhengzhou, Henan province China. Read More: China Pressed to Reform Meat Production as Swine Fever Spreads

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A Taiwanese businessman has been arrested in Thailand on charges of operating an underground radio station broadcast in China.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the man was detained in Bangkok for violating the Radio and Television Broadcasting Act of Thailand.

The suspect has been identified as Chiang Yung-hsin (蔣永新) and the foreign ministry says he has now been released on released on bail following a court hearing in Chiang Mai.

Taiwan's representative office in Bangkok says it will offer any necessary assistance and make sure the suspect's legal rights are protected.

According to Radio Free Asia, Chiang was arrested due to pressure from China because his underground radio station was affiliated with "The Sound of Hope," a radio station in San Francisco founded by the Falun Gong organization.

However, the manager of the "The Sound of Hope" is denying the claims Chiang was involved in illegal broadcasting and says he simply helped a Falun Gong volunteer rent a space in Chiang Mai for the storage of broadcasting equipment.

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The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said it will begin sending out text message warnings for bad air quality by the end of this month.

The warnings will be sent out if the air quality index exceeds 200.

According to the administration, it is currently working with the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction on the new warning system.

The EPA said the system is still in the testing phase, but it hopes to have it up and running by Dec. 31 at the latest.

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Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0
You'll soon receive an alert on your phone when air quality gets this bad.

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The Taoyuan District Prosecutors' Office says three people have been detained in connection with the seizure of more than 300-Kilograms of ketamine.

The suspects were arrested Taoyuan's Zhongli District when they went to pick up the drugs, which were smuggled into the country in a container from Shenzhen, China.

Authorities also confiscated 14 smartphones, an air pistol, large amounts of cash, a BMW sports car and other items.

The ketamine was divided into 16 packets hidden in two of 38 bags of polypropylene plastic in the container.

The case remains under investigation.

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Two Taiwanese nationals have been arrested in India on charges of gold smuggling.

The suspects were detained by police when they went to pick up 86 wrapped parcels that contained nine kilograms of gold worth US$468,000 (NT$14.37 million) from a customs office.

Two Chinese nationals and two Indians have also been arrested as part of the investigation.

According to unofficial estimates, 22 Taiwanese nationals have been arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle gold into India so far this year.

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Foreign visitor arrivals this year reached the 10 million mark this past weekend, hitting that figure for the fourth consecutive year.

According to the Tourism Bureau, the 10 millionth arrival was recorded late Sunday, but the bureau does not yet have the details such as the visitor's name or nationality.

The bureau says as it's the fourth year Taiwan has reached the 10 million mark, there will be no special celebration of that milestone, but a special event will be held when the number surpasses last year's total.

Taiwan recorded 10.7 million foreign visitor arrivals in 2017 and the 10 million milestone was reached two weeks earlier this year.

The largest sources of tourism come from China, Japan, Hong Kong/Macau, South Korea and the United States, which together accounted for 70 percent of this year's total arrivals.

The number of visitors from Japan is expected to break the 2 million mark by the end of the year.

Read Next: There's a Place in West China That Hasn't Banished the ROC Flag

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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