ICRT Weekly Central Taiwan News Report, Dec. 23–transcript

Some clarity appears on causes of MRT malfunction

The Japanese manufacturer of the trains to be used in Taichung’s new MRT system, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, apologized Monday at a press conference for a major flaw found during the system’s trial run last month.
That was followed by the head of the Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS), which is responsible for developing the Taichung MRT system, apologizing and giving a report to the Taichung City Council.
They explained they had identified the cause of the malfunction, saying the breakdown that occurred on Nov. 21 was caused by the improper assembly of anchors for the couplings that connect the carriages, preventing the gear shafts guided by the couplings from functioning in a stable manner, putting undue pressure on them and causing them to break during the trial run.
They will be replacing the couplings that were made by U.S.-based Wabtec Corporation’s China factory with those made in Wabtec’s factory in France.
DORTS said that a trial run for the new line could begin sometime after Feb. 2, a date which the head of Taichung’s Transportation Bureau called “overly optimistic”.

Mayor’s meeting with AIT head causes stir

In what has been characterized as an “ambush”, Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen, meeting with AIT Director Brent Christensen, allegedly abruptly turned what was supposed to be a closed-door meeting into a public briefing–and lambasted the diplomat over the soon-to-be-lifted ban on US pork containing the leanness-enhancing agent ractopamine.
A spokesperson for the Executive Yuan said this demonstrated a lack of respect and could result in global mistrust of Taiwan.
AIT spokesperson Amanda Mansour said in a statement “when political figures propagate disinformation and raise unfounded anxiety among Taiwan consumers, it is a disservice to everyone.”
Mayor Lu responded that AIT’s commentary on the issue should be given due respect, but it was her duty to safeguard residents’ safety.

Mayor Lu tackles gender issues

Following two scandals involving senior officials having illicit affairs, the deputy head of the secretariat and the head of the labour dept that led to both resigning, Mayor Lu has ordered that all senior officials will have to take part in gender equality classes.
Saying that this year she had begun a push for gender equality, she emphasized that it isn’t just for the grassroots, senior officials also need to pay attention to the issue.
Separately, the mayor has also announced that the ratio of mens and womens public toilets, which has been 1 to 3, isn’t enough.
The ratio going forward will be raised to 1 to 4.

Mayor Lu’s favorability rises

Mayor Lu, who will have been in office for two years this Friday, got a bit of good news in the runup to Christmas.
In a TVBS poll on the favorability of the big six municipality mayors, the mayor scored 56%.
While this only put her in fourth overall, it was a 23% improvement over a year ago, and she was only 2% behind third place finisher Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲).
She did particularly well with people over 40, who gave her about 65% approval–but not so well with those under 30, who only gave her 28%.

Man missing for 40 days found

A man missing for 40 days after he disappeared while attempting to enter a restricted section of the Central Cross-Island Highway was found late last week.
Police in Taichung’s Heping District were alerted when a man reported that he had seen a person in a cave while hunting behind an abandoned power plant near the village of Guguan.
The man, who had been subsisting on water and had not eaten for days, was carried down the mountain on a stretcher and taken to a hospital.
He was treated for dehydration and minor injuries, but was otherwise in stable health, in spite of having lost 20 kg.
He’s not the only one to go missing or get lost, with the increase in local tourism this year Nantou reported a 70 percent spike in hikers getting lost.
One was a very determined 15 year-old boy, who decided to take a five-day hike up a mountain alone, with only five cups of instant noodles and dressed in sweatpants and a tee-shirt.
His family, concerned that the weather was turning cold, called rescue personnel.
They found him, but the boy seemed determined to continue his trek.
They decided otherwise, and escorted him back to his parents.

More options for sports fans

The first game of Taiwan’s newly established professional basketball league, the P.League+, was played before over 6000 spectators in Changhua County on Saturday.
Unfortunately the Changhua-based Formosa Taishin Dreamers lost to the Taipei Fubon Braves 86-89.
The league’s inaugural season runs through next April.
Meanwhile, the final qualifier for the baseball tournament of the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games is scheduled to run from June 16 to the 20th in Taichung and Douliu.
Taiwan will square off against Australia, China, the Netherlands and the second and third place winners from the Americas tournament.
Only the top finisher will advance to the Tokyo Olympics.

Image courtesy of the Taichung MRT Facebook page

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