Taiwan News: Typhoon Maria Departs, New Ma Ying-jeou Indictments

Taiwan News: Typhoon Maria Departs, New Ma Ying-jeou Indictments
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Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.

The Central Weather Bureau says the outer rim of Typhoon Maria should move away from Taiwan by noon today. Taiwan avoided serious damage after Maria, downgraded to a Category 2 storm, skirted Taiwan last night and this morning.

Offices and schools are open today in Taipei and Keelung, but are closed in New Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Yilan, Miaoli and on Matsu.

As of 10 a.m., per the weather bureau, Maria was 60 km north-northwest of Matsu and moving towards southwestern China at 30 km/h. Land and sea warnings will be lifted today, although they currently remain in effect.

The weather bureau issued torrential rain alerts for New Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Miaoli. Extremely heavy rain warnings were issued for Taipei, Yilan and Taichung, and heavy rain warnings were issued for Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi, Hualien and mountainous areas of Kaohsiung and Pingtung.

The MRT is operating normally across both Taipei and New Taipei.

The high-speed rail is operating a full service today. The Taiwan Railways Administration has now resumed services on the west line and services on the east line were scheduled to resume at 9 a.m.

However, domestic flights and international flights remain affected. Airlines are still warning of possible cancellations and delays today, and passengers are being advised to check with the carriers before heading to the airport.

The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office has indicted former President Ma Ying-jeou on charges of breach of trust and of violating the Securities and Exchange Act.

The indictment is related to what prosecutors say was his involvement in the disposal of assets owned by the Kuomintang (KMT).

The former chairman and manager of the KMT-owned Central Investment Corporation have also been indicted on the same charges.

According to prosecutors, the indictment covers the KMT's disposal of Hua Hsia Investment Holdings, China Television, the Central Motion Picture Company, the Broadcasting Corporation of China and the old KMT headquarters building in Taipei. All the sales occurred when Ma served as the KMT chairman.

Read Next: What Does Ma Ying-jeou's Indictment Mean For Taiwan's Democracy?

Prosecutors say Ma approved a financial scheme that enabled the party to sell its media companies and other assets for less than their market values.

The KMT has slammed the indictment while Ma is denying any wrongdoing and claiming the charges are politically motivated.

However, chief prosecutor Chen Jia-xiu is dismissing claims of political interference - saying his office is aware the case would be politically charged and carefully reviewed all the evidence before handing down the indictments.

The government is donating US$1 million (NT$30.5 million) as part of its commitment to assisting the US-led Coalition to Defeat ISIS in its ongoing demining work in Syria and Iraq.

The donation was made during a ceremony in Washington. Taiwan's representative to the US, Stanley Gao, said at the event that as a member of the global community, Taiwan will not remain silent in its contributions to international humanitarian efforts.

According to US Deputy Special Presidential Envoy Terry Wolff, the donation will be used to help private contractors with their demining work in the two countries.

The coalition was established in 2014 under the administration of then-US President Barack Obama, and it has 68 members.

Taiwan's participation has previously consisted of humanitarian assistance, including the donation of temporary housing units for refugees in Iraq and Syria displaced by the Islamic State.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed his thanks for the sympathy and support extended by Taiwan and President Tsai Ing-wen in the wake of heavy flooding in the west of the county.

Abe took to Twitter to thank Taiwan. Writing in Chinese and Japanese, he said he is thankful for the sincere condolences and is sincerely grateful for the prompt assistance and donations from many in Taiwan toward disaster relief efforts his country.

Abe's comments come after Tsai extended her condolences in Japanese earlier this week to say that Taiwan is ready to provide any necessary assistance.

The government has donated US$181,000 (NT$5.5 million) to Japan for flood relief efforts.

The New Taipei District Court has sentenced a 25-year old man to death for the brutal killing of a four-year-old girl.

Zhuang Jia-yi was found guilty of beating the girl to death and of subjecting the victim to long-term physical abuse.

The court also sentenced Zhuang's mother, Liu Zhen-mei, to life in prison on charges of being an accessory to the crime and for refusing to allow social workers access to the girl.

The young girl had been living with Zhuang after her mother was imprisoned on drugs charges in October.

Prosecutors say Zhuang repeatedly beat the girl over a period of several weeks and abandoned her at a hospital after she fell unconscious in November of last year. The four-year-old died days later and doctors reported that she showed signs of mistreatment and malnutrition.

The court ruling can be appealed.

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong will visit the United States from July 16-23 and speak at a cross-strait symposium in Washington, D.C.

According to the council, Chen will deliver the speech at an event titled "The Opportunities and Challenges of Cross-Strait Relations" hosted by the Heritage Foundation and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

The symposium will discuss issues related to the internal situation of US-China-Taiwan ties and cross-strait relations.

Chen will hold talks with several think tanks to exchange views on cross-strait relations during his visit. He is also reportedly slated to meet with White House and State Department officials and hold talks with Taiwan-friendly members of Congress.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says Taiwan's ambassador to eSwatini is recovering after he was found seriously ill in his office on June 22.

According to ministry spokesman Andrew Lee, Thomas Chen has made significant progress and is now able to interact with people.

Chen was initially transferred to a hospital in South Africa for treatment.

However, the spokesman says he is now back at a hospital in eSwatini where he is being cared for by members of Taiwan's medical mission in the country.

Lee says President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, and eSwatini's King Mswati III have all expressed their concern for Chen's health and wish him a swift recovery.

The foreign ministry has not commented on what was wrong with Chen, but local media pundit Clara Zhou is claiming he suffered a stroke.

The Taipei Shilin District Court has sentenced Cheng Yu to life in prison for the rape and murder of a model in Taipei in March of last year.

The 22-year-old woman's body was found in a basement parking lot in the city's Nangang District.

According to the court, Cheng raped the woman after inviting her for a photo shoot before he strangled her to death and then used her mobile phone to send out text messages in an attempt to prove she was still alive.

Cheng had claimed the couple had consensual sex and he strangled her by accident.

He has four previous convictions for sexual assault.

Prosecutors had been seeking the death penalty and the victim's parents say they will appeal the ruling to a higher court.

The 4th Asian Innovation Forum has taken place in Taipei, bringing together 30 think tank experts from more than 10 countries to address key innovation issues in the region.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Science Minister Chen Liang-ji said the government is continuing to promote the development of strategies for advanced technologies and is working to deepen Taiwan's connection with other Asian countries.

Chen also spoke of the challenges facing Taiwan in breaking a bottleneck in advancing scientific technology and innovation, saying the government needs to make use of resources from other countries by establishing strong partnerships with them.

This year's forum focused on "national strategy for science, technology and innovation: visions, road maps and action plans," "emerging technologies and public engagement" and "science and technology policy/program management."

Organized by the Korea Institute of S&T Evaluation and Planning since 2015, the forum seeks to promote international collaboration by providing a communications platform for key players in Asian innovation.

The British Office in Taipei has thanked Taiwan via Facebook for the textile technology that provided the English soccer team with environmentally friendly jerseys at the World Cup.

The office also thanked the team's Taiwanese supporters and expressed hope that the team can make it into the finals while wearing the jerseys researched and developed by Taiwan.

At least half of the 32 national teams at the World Cup in Russia were kitted out with the environmentally friendly jerseys.

Environmental Protection Administration says official Lee Shou-qian says the Taiwanese businesses that produce yarn from recycled PET bottles supplied the material for the production of jerseys worn by at least 16 national teams.

England play Croatia at 2 a.m. Taiwan time in the second semi-final. The winner plays France in the final on Sunday.

Average regular wages in Taiwan rose almost 2.5% from a year earlier on the back of a continued recovery in the local economy, according to government statistics.

Average regular salaries in May totaled NT$40,874, up 2.48% from a year earlier.

The government says the growing economy served as a driver to the increase in regular wages, which serve as a gauge of economic fundamentals.

It was the sixth consecutive month in which the average regular wages grew more than 2%. The growth of regular wages for May also surpassed a year-on-year increase of 2.26% in April.

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This news bulletin was provided courtesy of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), Taiwan’s leading English-language broadcaster.

TNL Editor: Nick Aspinwall