90-year-old lawyer sues legislators over marriage equality draft bill

Ninety-year-old lawyer George Wang (王可富) is suing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), Kuomintang (KMT) legislator Jason Hsu (許毓仁) and New Power Party legislators Freddy Lim (林昶佐) and Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) along with 43 other legislators over the draft marriage equality bill. Wang was a legal advisor to former President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) father Ma Ho-Ling (馬鶴凌).

In a statement issued to the press, Wang claims that the legislators are “intentionally destroying the country’s family system by allowing same-sex marriage.” He also says the accused legislators are violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and condemning Taiwanese citizens to no longer bear offspring. He continues, “the legislators should be charged for preparing to commit murder under Article 271 of the Criminal Code.” Wang also says “same-sex marriage goes against nature, and all those who agree with an old man are welcome to join my lawsuit.”

Draft amendments to the Civil Code have already passed the initial committee review stage at the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament. The amendments still need to go through a second and third reading before it can become law.

Ambassadors appointed by Obama must quit by Trump inauguration

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has released a blanket edict that requires all foreign ambassadors appointed by President Barack Obama to leave their positions by Jan. 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration, the New York Times reports. Past administrations have granted extensions to ambassadors, particularly those with school-age children, on a case-by-case basis to allow them to remain in their respective countries. A senior Trump official said the mandate held no ill-will, calling it a simple matter of ensuring that President Obama’s appointees leave the government on schedule, along with thousands of political aides at the White House and Federal Agencies.

Asked if the mandate would affect Taiwan, an American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokesperson told The News Lens International, “AIT Director Kin Moy is a career Foreign Service Officer and the article refers to political appointees.”

Smoking ban to include e-cigarettes and smoking in bars and nightclubs

The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) is proposing a new law that would expand a recent ban on smoking in public places to include banning the use of electronic cigarettes and ban smoking in bars, nightclubs and cigar lounges, Taiwan News reports. Under the new law, e-cigarettes cannot be sold to those under the age of 18. Violators would be fined up to NT$10,000 (US$300).

The current regulations ban smoking in all public places with the exception of hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, and other indoor public spaces with independent air conditioning systems or rooms partitioned for smoking. Smoking is also allowed in bars and cigar lounges after 9 p.m.

Taiwan seeks to employ more Indian workers

An agreement to allow the employment of Indian workers in Taiwan is being negotiated between Taiwan and India, Taiwan’s representative to India Tien Chung-kwang (田中光) said at a media interview, CNA reports. Taiwan hopes to hire people from the northeastern states of India to work in its hospitality sector. Tien also said that a substantial workforce in Taiwan could deepen Indians’ understanding of Taiwan.

Under the President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) administration’s New Southbound Policy, Taiwan and India have already signed agreements to collaborate in the preservation of heritage railways, increase air traffic and agricultural cooperation.

New Uber regulations take effect, 90 percent of drivers stop working

Up to 90 percent of Uber drivers in Taiwan went offline for a period yesterday, after new regulations that increase fines against Uber drivers from NT50,000 to NT100,000 came into effect, Apple Daily reported. Under the new regulations, drivers found to be operating Uber services would also have their licenses suspended for up to four months. An unnamed Uber driver told the Taiwanese paper that most of the drivers were afraid to drive their personal cars, and Uber has begun renting cars to drivers as a countermeasure. Despite this, Uber has said it would continue its operations in Taiwan.

Taiwan military ready to face ‘Liaoning’

Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) has said that the military is ready to face any possible maneuvers by the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning, the Taipei Times reports. Chen said that the military has missiles ready, but could not reveal more details.

The Liaoning and five other escort vessels are conducting exercises in the South China Sea, and may sail along the median line of the Taiwan Strait on the return journey to the northeastern port city of Qingdao (青島). Chen said the ministry has an uninterrupted communication channel with President Tsai Ing-wen in the event the carrier fleet attempts maneuvers while she is in Central America, the Taipei Times reports.

Tsai departs Taiwan today to visit several of the country’s diplomatic allies in Central America.

ITRI debuts vision system for robots at CES 2017

Taiwan’s largest high-tech applied research institution, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), debuted an “Intelligent Vision System” for robots that gives the robots depth perception at CES 2017. Robots with the system can tell the difference between chess pieces and their locations and grip the chess pieces, allowing the robots to play chess. The robots can also fill up coffee cups to specific levels.

ITRI also debuted a long-range drone fleet management system, the Remotely-Operated Autonomous Drone (ROAD), which can be operated via LTE across continents.

Editor: Edward White