What you need to know
The biggest stories around Taiwan today.
Hearings on Japanese food import ban postponed
The Executive Yuan announced yesterday that two public hearings to discuss the ban on Japanese food imports from Fukushima and nearby Ibaraki, Chiba, Tochigi and Gunma prefectures will be postponed to prevent political intervention by the Kuomintang (KMT), Taipei Times reports. The hearings were originally planned for Jan. 2 and Jan. 8 in Taipei and Kaohsiung respectively. An earlier hearing, held in New Taipei City, ended without progress after it was disrupted by protests. Fearing further obstruction, the Executive Yuan decided to postpone the hearings until a different approach can be found to discuss the matter. KMT member and Culture and Communications Committee deputy director Hu Wen-chi (胡文琦) told the Taipei Times that the delay is an attempt by the Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) administration to avoid public scrutiny, and that lifting the ban runs contrary to mainstream public opinion.
Taipei sets up 'nursing homes' for pet cats and dogs
Four veterinary centers in Taipei have received licensing to operate “nursing homes” for old pet cats and dogs, the Liberty Times reports. In accordance with regulations announced by the Taipei City Animal Protection Office in September, these animal hospices will provide care for old and sick animals whose owners are no longer able to care for them. The city council hopes that the nursing home will be able to ease the burden of animal shelters as a “no-kill” policy at animal shelters comes into effect in January.
Measures in place to handle drop in Chinese tourists: MAC
The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) says it is prepared to handle the continued decline of Chinese tourists to Taiwan as cross-Strait relations remain tenuous, the Central News Agency reports. Responding to questions about the sharp decline in Chinese tourists, deputy head of the MAC Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said the government remains committed to improving local tourism. Chiu also said that the MAC had “prepared for the worst,” and countermeasures were already in place to deal with falling tourist numbers. In the seven months since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office, the number of tourists from China has fallen by 36 percent, Reuters reports. Chinese tourist arrivals to Taiwan in Dec. 1-27 were 44 percent lower compared to the same period last year, according to statistics from the National Immigration Agency. This has been somewhat offset by a lift in tourist numbers from other countries.
‘Illegal’ Airbnb operators to be fined under new legislation
Amendments to the Act for the Development of Tourism to prevent unlicensed hotel and Airbnb operators from advertising their services passed a third reading at the Legislative Yuan on Dec. 23. Under the new provisions, commonly known as the “Airbnb Provision,” unlicensed operators found to be illegally advertising their services on the Airbnb website will be fined between NT$30,000 (about US$930) to NT$300,000 (about US$9,300), United Daily News reports.
The provision also allows the relevant authorities to be accompanied by police when investigating suspected unlicensed operators, and those who report unlicensed hotel operators to the authorities are entitled to a reward, the Taiwanese Apple Daily reports.
Read more: Airbnb Faces an Uncertain Future in Taiwan
Taipei begins issuing updated same-sex partnership certificates
The Taipei City government has begun issuing updated same-sex partnership certificates that will allow same-sex couples to apply for family care leave and sign surgical and medical treatment consent forms for each other, CNA reports. Taipei City is the second city in Taiwan to issue same-sex partnership certificates, after the southern city of Kaohsiung. Draft amendments to the Civil Code to allow same-sex marriage recently passed a committee review, but remains strongly contested by religious groups.
Police bust notorious drug ring
The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) announced on Dec. 29 that it successfully raided one of Taiwan’s most notorious drug-trafficking rings. The police arrested three men and one woman, and seized 32.95 grams of heroin, 25.5 grams of methamphetamine and NT$357,500 (US$11,000) in cash at a raid in Yunlin County in central Taiwan, where the ring was operating. The drug bust was a joint effort by the Taiwan and Thailand law enforcement authorities. The authorities had received information that a drug lord, surnamed Wu, had planned to bring a shipment of drugs into Taiwan, according to the CIB.
Editor: Edward White