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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.
Education Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) has resigned following his decision to approve the controversial appointment of Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) as National Taiwan University (NTU) president.
Yeh's decision to allow Kuan's appointment had drawn an angry response from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers.
In a post on his Facebook page, Yeh said he was resigning to take "political responsibility for any problems his decision on Kuan's case would or could cause."
Yeh went on to say that the NTU selection process caused "serious damage to Taiwan's education system, which should not be a battleground for social differences and standoffs."
Premier William Lai (賴清德) has accepted Yeh's resignation.
The Ministry of Education says Kuan is now set to take office on Jan. 8.
The National Immigration Agency said a task force is looking for 152 Vietnamese tourists who went missing after arriving in Taiwan late last week.
A specialized operations unit based in Kaohsiung has obtained the itineraries of the tourists and looking into the possibility that the incident could be connected to human trafficking.
Officials say once found, the tourists will be deported for violating the Immigration Act.
The tourists came to Taiwan in four group, entering Taiwan via Kaohsiung, Taoyuan and Tainan and they went missing between Dec. 21 and 23.
The Tourism Bureau said their itineraries had been arranged by a Vietnamese travel company that had applied for hundreds of electronic visas through a government program launched in 2015.
The Taiwanese travel agency responsible for receiving the tourists says it was caught off-guard by the incident and immediately informed the Tourism Bureau, the immigration agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Lawmakers have passed a draft act promoting Taiwan's national languages.
The move paves the way for the establishment of a Taiwanese-language television station.
Culture Minister Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) said the Cabinet-proposed draft bill aims to ensure language diversity and equal development of all languages and cultures in Taiwan.
The act states that all of the languages spoken in Taiwan should be treated equally and that the use of national languages should not be subject to discrimination or limitations.
The draft bill also includes a clause that the government should promote publications, movies and television productions in Taiwan's various languages and that non-profit organizations receive funding to provide diversified services in various national languages.
Those groups will also be allowed to establish radio broadcasting and TV channels.
The culture ministry began drafting the bill in 2016.
Animal health officials say initial examinations of the carcasses of several abandoned pigs found in Hualien shows the deaths appear to be unrelated to African swine fever.
According to Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) Secretary-General Cheng Chun-pin (鄭純彬), further tests are being carried out to confirm the exact cause of the deaths, and those results are expected to be released today.
The statement comes after the carcasses of six pigs were found dumped in a gutter under a bridge in Shoufeng Township by a local resident, who notified local authorities.
The discovery comes as the government is stepping up efforts to stop African swine fever from spreading to Taiwan from China.
Yunlin County has banned the use of food scraps for pig feed in an effort to minimize the risk of African swine fever.
Yunlin County Magistrate Chang Li-shan (張麗善) said the ban has been imposed with immediate effect.
Chang made the announcement immediately after being sworn-in and says she has also requested the heads of local townships and villages work with local pig farmers to implement the measure.
According to Cheng, pig farmers who fail to stop using food scraps to feed their livestock will subject to fines under the Waste Disposal Act.
Kitchen waste and leftover food from households and restaurants will now be used for composting to make fertilizer, or to provide green energy.
Yunlin County is the center of Taiwan's pig farming industry and is home to 1,211 hog farms.
Officials from Taiwan will reportedly be traveling to Japan today to prepare for the third round of maritime cooperation talks, which begin in Tokyo tomorrow.
Reports say the talks will focus on fishing rights in waters near Okinotorishima island, which Japan regards as its southernmost territory.
Kyodo News is citing officials as saying the Taiwan delegation will be seeking to sign a cooperation agreement during the two-day talks aimed at reducing illegal fishing by Taiwanese fishermen.
The maritime cooperation talks have been held since 2016. The last round was held in December of last year in Taipei.
Read More: Taiwan's High Seas Hell
An Economic Cooperation Agreement between Taiwan and the Kingdom of eSwatini will take effect tomorrow and is expected to enhance bilateral trade and ties.
The agreement was signed by Economics Minister Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) and his eSwatini counterpart on June 8 in Taipei and was passed by lawmakers on November 2.
Officials say the deal is expected to further facilitate bilateral cooperation in trade and investment and boost exchanges and two-way visits.
According to the Bureau of Foreign Trade, eSwatini is Taiwan's 156th largest trading partner, with bilateral trade of around US$7.56 million (NT$232.9 million) in 2017.
The government is donating US$500,000 (NT$15.4 million) to Indonesia to support relief efforts following this past weekend's deadly tsunami that hit Java and Sumatra.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the relief funds will be given to the Indonesian government to assist the country with post-disaster relief and reconstruction efforts.
According to the ministry, the decision to make the donation was based on humanitarian need and the close friendship between Taiwan and Indonesia.
Taiwan's military is also standing-by to deploy four C-130 transport planes to Indonesia to help with disaster relief work, pending a decision by the Indonesian government.
Six Taiwanese nationals, stranded in the wake of the deadly tsunami, have been confirmed safe.
Keelung has became the first city in Taiwan to provide free HPV vaccines for girls to protect them against cervical cancer.
The vaccination drive is part of a government-funded program carried out by the Health Promotion Administration.
The two-dose vaccine costs NT$6,000 (US$195) and will be provided to junior high school girls in the city.
Similar programs are slated to start in Yilan and Penghu this week. Health officials say the HPV vaccination program is expected to be expanded to cities and counties islandwide from next year.
The High Court has rejected an appeal by three foreign nationals against a civil suit by the First Commercial Bank claiming losses in the theft of more than NT$83 million (US$2.69 million) from its ATMs.
The Latvian, Romanian and Moldovan nationals are serving four year prison sentences for their roles in robbery, which took place two years ago.
First Bank is now suing the three to claim for its losses.
The trio had been ordered to pay the bank NT$5.73 million (US$186,000) – the amount that remains unaccounted for following the ATM robberies in July of 2016.
They appealed against that, claiming the bank should seek the money from the leader of the crime ring that led the robbery.
The trio can still appeal the High Court ruling to the Supreme Court.
Twenty-two suspects from six countries were involved in the ATM thefts that took place from between July 9 and July 11, 2016.
Nineteen of the suspects fled the country and remain on a wanted list.
The Central Weather Bureau says we can expect cold and wet weather over the New Year holiday weekend.
A new cold front is expected to begin affecting much of the island from this afternoon and temperatures are forecast to fall further later this week.
According to the weather bureau, the mercury will be at its lowest on Friday and Saturday and the cold front will continue into next week, and the New Year holiday.
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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