Taiwan confirmed no new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus for the fifth consecutive day on Tuesday.
It was also the 30th straight day that no domestically transmitted infections had been recorded in Taiwan.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said that Taiwan will reopen its borders to trade and business from Hong Kong and Macau first.
Chen said on Tuesday that’s because he is confident of their containment of COVID-19.
Hotels hit hard
The nation’s hotels last quarter saw their revenues fall 32.82 percent year-on-year to NT$10.28 billion (US$343.58 million), while occupancy rates plunged from 66.36 percent to 37.19 percent, according to Tourism Bureau data.
Guest visits totaled 1.9 million from January to March, a decline of nearly 40 percent, or 1.24 million visits, from the same period last year at 3.15 million.
Foreign travelers accounted for more than 1 million visit losses.
DPP lawmakers propose longer psychiatric detention
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers on Friday proposed extending the maximum period criminal offenders with mental health issues can be held in psychiatric detention from five to 14 years.
The proposed amendments to Article 87 of Taiwan’s Criminal Code would allow courts to add three three-year extensions to the current five years of “custodial protection” that can be ordered for criminal offenders found not guilty on the grounds of diminished capacity.
The proposal comes after a controversial Chiayi District Court ruling on April 30 in which it did not convict a man surnamed Cheng (鄭) for fatally stabbing 24-year-old railway police officer on a train from Tainan to Taipei last July.
The court reasoned that Cheng’s long history of schizophrenia negated his legal culpability for the act.
Lawmakers vow to tackle “digital gender violence”
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Fan Yun (范雲) and other lawmakers yesterday said that they would propose legislation to protect victims of nonconsensual dissemination of intimate images.
The legislation aimed at preventing “digital gender violence” is being introduced due to an absence of laws that offer adequate protection to victims, Fan told a news conference in Taipei.
The bill would include a mechanism for the immediate removal of private sexual images, Fan said, adding that everyone, regardless of their gender, should have autonomy over such images.
Taiwan tops for fisherman abuse
Nearly one third of complaints filed by Indonesian migrant fishermen are employed on Taiwanese ships, the most out of any country, according to recent statistics released by an Indonesian government agency.
Of the 389 complaints the Agency for the Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BP2MI) received from 2018 to May 6, 2020, 120 were filed by fishermen who worked on Taiwanese ships, said Benny Rhamdani, who heads the agency.
Fishermen working on South Korean ships reported the second highest number of complaints, with 42.
According to Benny, 164 of the complaints involved unpaid wages, while 47 involved deaths, 46 dealt with injuries, 23 with forced deportations and 18 fishermen reported that their passports or other documents were confiscated by brokers.
To find out more about this abuse and more, check out the work of Nick Aspinwall, who has covered this story well.
Is India becoming more pro-Taiwan?
An Indian media outlet, TFI Post, came out with an article that included the following:
“The latest blow for Beijing has come from New Delhi, which is reportedly looking to curb unbridled access to the Indian markets by China and is, therefore, contemplating options including mandating the “approval route” for Chinese Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI).
According to TOI, the new FPI guidelines will apply to the whole of China but will exempt the Taiwanese investors.
Earlier, India had tightened the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms for its neighbouring countries in a bid to avoid hostile Chinese takeovers. Excluding the Taiwanese investors means that the Modi government has decided to treat the average Taiwanese citizen differently from a mainland Chinese citizen.
This is for the first time that India is going to denounce Beijing’s ‘One China’ policy at a time when Beijing is already finding it hard to avoid worldwide sympathy for the Taiwanese cause.”
There are several odd things in this.
For one thing, many if most countries already treat Taiwanese differently, regardless of having a “One China” policy.
For example, Taiwanese passport holders get visa-free entry into far more countries than Chinese.
Treating Taiwanese differently as investors is also quite common, and hardly amounts to a “denunciation.”
This also says that this is the first time that India is going to denounce the “One China” policy.
India has been prickly on this issue in the past due to China’s occupation of territory India claims, though not sure that denouncing it would be the way to describe it.
However, if this is not hyperventilated journalism, and India really did denounce the “One China” policy, that would be big news.
NZ undeterred by China’s threats
China foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a press conference on Monday that China “deplores and opposes” New Zealand’s position on supporting Taiwan entry into the World Health Organization, and “no one should entertain any illusion when it comes to matters concerning China’s core interests”.
“We hope that certain people in New Zealand will stop spreading rumours and creating trouble and work to enhance instead of undermining bilateral mutual trust and cooperation,” Zhao said.
But New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters says he’s not concerned an escalating war of words will damage relations, and he doesn’t regret telling the Chinese ambassador she needed to “listen to her master”.
SCS contingency plans to defend Taiping
Taiwan said Tuesday that contingency plans are in place for its outlying islands in the South China Sea, following a Japanese media report that the Chinese military is planning to conduct drills in the area to simulate the seizure of one of the islands.
Japan’s Kyodo News reported that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is planning to hold a large-scale beach landing exercise near China’s Hainan Province in August, with a scenario of capturing the Dongsha Islands (Pratas Islands), currently controlled by Taiwan.
The report, which did not cite its sources, said the Dongsha Islands are significant to Beijing as they sit at a strategic point, because Chinese warships have to sail by them when going to the Pacific from Hainan Province.
The Ministry of National Defense (MND) responded by saying that it has contingency plans in place for the South China Sea and that work to strengthen combat readiness and defense preparedness on Taiping Island and the Dongsha Islands will not stop.
Power play by the DPP
It looks like the DPP is making a power move against the KMT in a new farmer’s insurance act.
The Legislative Yuan on Tuesday passed a third reading of the Farmers’ Insurance Act (農業保險法), which aims to safeguard the income of farmers, animal breeders, fishers and foresters from natural disasters and other incidents.
The act identifies entities that can provide farmers’ insurance, including designated farmers’ or fishers’ associations, as well as insurance companies.
It stipulates that associations should create a dedicated account for the handling of the insurance that would be subject to internal controls and audit regulations to be introduced by the Council of Agriculture.
Sounds pretty normal so far.
Here’s the kicker:
The council may conduct unannounced inspections of the associations, whose executives must not evade inspections or provide council officials with false or incomplete files or reports, the act says.
In other words, they can have their financial records pored over for any discrepancies at any time.
That’s a big deal, and here’s why:
When the KMT arrived and imposed martial law, they needed locals to be part of their political machine.
To do so, local patronage factions formed, usually two or three per county.
To keep their power in check, the KMT wouldn’t let them operate outside of their county, and worked to balance the power of each faction against each other.
These factions were in turn allowed to bestow patronage to their loyal supporters and to buy votes come election time.
The sources of money and patronage in the early days came from factional control of institutions like credit unions, irrigation associations and…farming and fishing associations.
As Taiwan moved to open elections, the KMT elites stripped away some sources of patronage, including the credit unions, because the sleeze was tarnishing their image.
The DPP has been seeking to finish the job.
First, they passed the Ill Gotten Gains law, freezing the vast wealth the KMT had amassed under martial law.
Then, they passed a law nationalizing the irrigation associations.
Myself and others had been speculating they would eventually move to nationalize the farming and fishing associations as well.
Apparently that’s not the route the DPP decided to take.
Instead, this law appears to make it very risky for those associations to financially engage in typical patronage behaviour.
This may limit, or even potentially neuter, them.
Image courtesy of the DPP (int’l) Facebook page