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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.
The Taiwanese student deported from the U.S. on firearms charges has been questioned by the Shilin District Prosecutors' Office following his arrival at Taoyuan International Airport Tuesday evening.
Sun An-tso (孫安佐) arrived back in Taiwan on a United Airlines from San Francisco at 7:50 p.m. and was met by officials from the Aviation Police Department and the Criminal Investigation Bureau.
He voluntarily agreed to go the prosecutors' office, where he was questioned for around 80 minutes.
Sun was released without bail, but has been banned from traveling overseas and must remain at the residence of his parents – the TV celebrities Sun Peng (孫鵬) and Di Ying (狄鶯) – pending further investigation.
Prosecutors say they questioned Sun about his two trials in the U.S. on charges of making terroristic threats, including suggesting he intended to shoot up Bonner and Prendergast Catholic High School in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and possessing ammunition on a non-immigrant visa in order to establish the facts about his cases.
Prosecutors have said they are looking into whether the 18-year old will face additional charges here in Taiwan.
Read More: OPINION: Sun An-tso’s School Shooting Threat Is No Joke
Kuomintang (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) has filed a lawsuit seeking to have the the results of the Nov. Taipei mayoral election annulled.
The move comes as the Taipei District Court is expected to announce the results of its recount later today.
Ting lost to Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) by 3,254 votes in the first count on election night and requested a recount four days later.
The KMT candidate has claimed there were irregularities and major flaws in the voting process, specifically that vote counts were being released online while people were still queuing to cast their ballots, potentially influencing people who might have voted for Democratic Progressive Party candidate Pasuya Yao (姚文智) to vote for Mayor Ko instead.
According to Ting, the chaos in the Nov. 24 local government elections, which included queues of up to two hours to vote, have tarnished Taiwan's democratic image, and he is considering bringing a lawsuit against the Central Election Commission and the Taipei City Election Commission.
He is also suggesting that local elections and referendums should in future be held at separate polling stations.
The Ministry of Transport has suspended implementation of a new regulation mandating that all motorcycles be equipped with either an anti-lock braking (ABS) system or a combined braking (CBS) system.
The new regulations had been set to go into effect from Jan. 1, 2021.
However, the move led to complaints from the public over the cost, and President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) intervened, urging authorities to come up with measures to help ease the financial burden on motorcycle owners.
The installation cost of the braking systems is estimated at between NT$1,500 and NT$8,000 (US$50 to US$260).
The transport ministry has said regulations mandating that all new motorcycle models manufactured after the end of this year must be fitted with ABS or CBS systems will remain in place.
Officials said the new regulation is aimed at reducing traffic casualties by 30 percent per year.
Well-known baker Wu Pao-chun (吳寶春) is attempting to play down comments he made earlier this week, in which he described himself as being born in "Taiwan, China" and supporting the "1992 Consensus."
Speaking at a press conference, Wu said he is simply a baker, and is seeking to create a bigger market for young people who share his profession.
Chinese netizens had accused Wu of being "pro-Taiwan independence," and labelled his baked goods "Taiwan independence bread."
The criticism comes in the wake of President Tsai's visit to an outlet of the Taiwanese 85ºC Bakery in Los Angeles in August, which triggered heavy backlash against the chain in China due to the perception that the company supported the DPP's stance on independence.
Wu is seeking to follow the breadcrumb trail laid by 85ºC Bakery and similarly enter the China market, with his first bread store in Shanghai currently holding a soft opening. His comments were seen here in Taiwan as placating Chinese consumers so they won't boycott the store, as happened to 85ºC Bakery's stores following the Tsai controversy.
However, Wu is now facing a backlash here in Taiwan, with Taiwanese netizens accusing him of kowtowing to Beijing.
President Tsai said she doesn't blame Wu for his comments, and is fully aware they are the result of China's political oppression of Taiwan.
Japan's top envoy to Taiwan is once again expressing Tokyo's disappointment over the results of a referendum to maintain a ban on imports of food products from areas of Japan affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
However, Mikio Numata said Tuesday that Japan will continue to promote bilateral cooperation with Taiwan.
Numata made the comments in an address at a reception organized by the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association in Taipei ahead of Japanese Emperor Akihito's 85th birthday.
Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono has warned that Tokyo could file a complaint with the World Trade Organization over the ban, and threatened that it might result in Taiwan being unable to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is being led by Japan since the U.S. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the agreement.
Premier William Lai (賴清德) has said he hopes both countries will continue to enhance closer ties on various fronts and will not let anything affect cordial bilateral ties.
Taiwan ranks in 10th place in the latest Human Freedom Index.
Taiwan was tied with Norway and Finland in the index which ranks 162 jurisdictions around the world.
The Human Freedom Index is co-published by the Fraser Institute, the U.S.-based Cato Institute and Germany's Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.
The index employs 79 indicators of personal, civil and economic freedoms to assess the 162 jurisdictions.
And these include rule of law, security and safety, religion, civil society, expression and information, legal system and property rights, measured on a scale of 0-10.
The Fraser Institute said: "Taiwan – which remains under constant military threat from China – nonetheless continues to increase freedom and democracy for its citizens, this year entering the top 10 freest jurisdictions globally."
Taiwan has risen from 43rd position in the index since 2008.
New Zealand took first place ahead of Switzerland, Hong Kong, Australia and Canada.
The Taiwan Railways Administration has established an operational safety department to oversee safety issues on the network.
Railway administration Director-General Chang Cheng-yuan (張政源) said the move is in response to the October derailment of a Puyuma Express in Yilan County that killed 18 passengers.
The operational safety department has 36 members, and Chang said it replaces a previous transportation safety committee, which was an ad-hoc group.
According to Chang, the new department's members are all skilled professionals from different departments within the railways administration and their sole task is to oversee safety issues.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has said it is not ruling out possible political interference from China following a decision by Uruguay to suspend its visa-free treatment for ROC passport holders.
Uruguay suspended its visa-waiver treatment for ROC passport holders on Dec. 5 after agreeing to include Taiwan in its visa free program for visits of up to 90 days on Oct. 19.
The foreign ministry initially said the South American country halted the preferential treatment because its online e-visa application system is still under construction.
However, MoFA official Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that interference from Beijing is not being ruled out due to high number of meetings between Chinese and Uruguayan officials.
The foreign ministry says Taiwan's representative office in Argentina, which is responsible for Uruguayan affairs, is reviewing the situation and is still seeking to have the visa-free status reinstated as soon as possible.
The Control Yuan is scheduled to present a report early next year on transforming itself into a National Human Rights Institution.
Control Yuan member Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠) said the proposal conforms with the Paris Principles, which provide a benchmark for such institutions.
According to Kao, given the principle of streamlining government operations, turning the Control Yuan into a National Human Rights Institution is more feasible than creating a new agency.
Kao added that a consensus has been reached among Control Yuan members on introducing new clauses into the Organic Law of the Control Yuan to ensure institutional compliance with the Paris Principles.
The Paris Principles set out six core criteria that a National Human Rights Institution must meet for it to be effective, including autonomy from government and independence guaranteed by legislation and or constitution.
The Aviation Police Bureau have arrested a man for making threats on his Facebook page to "wage war against Taiwan" then leave the country.
Police said they received a tip-off that the man had made a post in a closed Facebook group, saying that he planned to "start a war against the whole of Taiwan" and already had a plane ticket out of the country.
The suspect has been identified as a Facebook user with the name "Chang Shao-chung (張紹中)," who lives in Taipei's Songshan District.
According to police, there was concern he was is possession of explosives and modified firearms.
However, no weapons were found after police searched his residence.
The case has been turned over to the Taipei District Prosecutors Office for further investigation and the suspect faces possible charges are making threats and endangering public safety.
A NT$100-million jackpot for Taiwan's Grand Lottery in the Oct. 2 draw remains unclaimed.
According to the Taiwan Lottery, the sole winning ticket was sold in Keelung's Zhongzheng District, but the owner has yet to claim the prize.
The winning numbers for the Taiwan Grand Lottery 6/49 were 2, 8, 16, 33, 42 and 47, plus the special number 14.
If the lottery winnings go unclaimed by Jan. 2, 2019, they will be forfeit.
The biggest unclaimed jackpot for Taiwan's Grand Lottery is NT$205 million that was won on April 14, 2008 in Taipei.
A local environmental group has published a guidebook that lists 101 types of marine debris found in local waters.
The Guidebook of Marine Debris has been published by the environmental group RE-THINK, and is aimed at educating the public about waste and the importance of keeping shorelines clean.
It includes pictures and information about the 101 types of marine litter spotted in the seas around Taiwan, including yellow rubber ducks, plastic sandals, PET bottles, disposable cups, videotapes and toys.
The oldest item pictured is a military ration pack dating back to 1988.
RE-THINK co-founder Jason Huang (黃之揚) estimates that the amount of plastic trash scattered on the beaches around Taiwan could fill 150,000 large plastic bags.
He also says beach cleanup campaigns are not enough and that the public should get to know more about the trash and how it got into the ocean in the first place.
According to Huang, his group plans to hold 20 education sessions next year to teach the public more about ocean trash.
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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