ICRT Weekly Central Taiwan News Report, Nov. 25–transcript

MRT is halted following malfunction

Less than a week since the trial launch of Taichung’s MRT Green Line, it has been halted following a malfunction.
Services were initially suspended for 1.5 hours on Saturday afternoon after one of the trains reported an abnormality at the terminal of the Taichung High Speed Rail Station.
After an investigation the Taichung Mass Rapid Transit Corp, later that day said that all services would be suspended until the problem is resolved.
According to the train’s manufacturer, Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan, the breakdown involved a U.S.-made coupling connecting the two-carriage train that broke, something Kawasaki claims had “never happened before.”
Kawasaki has begun removing the couplings from all of the line’s 18 trains to be submitted to a third-party manufacturer to check for defects.
The couplings will then be re-connected to the trains for further test runs, and if things go smoothly public trial runs could resume as early as next Tuesday.
However, if the couplings are found to be defective, the suspension of services will continue until the parts are replaced.
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen said “We will not resume operations just for the sake of it,” and promised the line will only be restarted when it is safe to do so.
However, city officials have stated that the line would still formally launch on Dec. 19.
Of the many people this interruption has inconvenienced, one is the mayor herself, who cancelled her plans to join an anti-ractopamine rally in Taipei.

Mayor Lu announces big expansion of iBike system

Mayor Lu has announced plans for a huge expansion of the city’s iBike rental system as part of an iBike 2.0 program.
Within three years she plans to have 1000 new iBike stations erected, up from 329 currently.
Since 2014 the system has recorded 39 million passenger trips.

Eight being questioned in two murders

Police are questioning eight people involved in an alleged Taichung-based criminal gang in connection with two murders.
Six were arrested in Taichung, but following a tip-off the alleged ringleader–surnamed Hsu–fled to Hualien, but was picked up by police there.
The eighth alleged accomplice was already serving jail time.
The cases came to light because a friend of one of the members of the gang involved in the case tipped off the police.
This led to police finding both bodies in concrete-filled plastic barrels.
Both bodies had been dissolved in acid, leaving only fragments of skin and bone, but DNA analysis confirmed their identities.
The first murder was three years ago of a then 16-year-old girl, who was then the girlfriend of one of the gang members.
She may have been beaten and stabbed to death in Hsinchu in May 2017 because Hsu suspected she stole NT$3 million from the gang, police said.
Her boyfriend saw everything that happened to the girl, but dared not tell the authorities.
Her body was found at a residence in Taichung.
The other murder, of a 54-year-old man, was apparently over a financial dispute, and went missing last year.
His body was found in Miaoli County.

Nude photos in the news

Nude photos were very much in the news in the last week.
In the first case a Taichung-based saxophone teacher was sentenced to 18 years in jail, for baiting girls to send him nude photographs and videos of themselves.
The Taichung District Court found the 32-year-old man guilty of contravening the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act in 48 cases, involving 32 girls aged below 16.
Prosecutors cited cited the man as saying that they had sent him the material voluntarily, as he had dated most of them, while he had paid a few other girls, who he meet in video chat rooms, for sending him the material.
He apparently met the girls through the clubs and forums dedicated to Korean pop stars, claiming that he was working in the entertainment industry and promising that he could arrange for meetings with pop stars in exchange for explicit material of themselves.
The second case was brought up in the Taichung city council, and involves a series of obscene photographs taken in a classroom by a man, who had written on the blackboard “gym teacher”.
In one picture there appears to be a student sleeping, but the classroom was otherwise empty.
Police suspect that the school is in Taichung because the source of the pictures reportedly posted about looking for a place to rent in the Xitun District.
In response, Mayor Lu said that if this was in Taichung they’d find the perpetrator.

Protests erupt in Changhua County

For the second time in two months, yesterday over a hundred people in Changhua County’s normally sleepy Fangyuan Township erupted in protest.
They are protesting the county government’s approval of 16 new chicken farms.
Adding those would mean over half of all of Changhua County’s chicken farms would be in the township, which already hosts over one million birds.
And of course, chicken farms smell quite foul.

Image courtesy of the TMRT Facebook page

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