ICRT’s Weekly Central Taiwan News Report, Jan 20–transcript

Events once again being cancelled due to Covid

With the new cluster outbreak of the coronavirus in Taoyuan, events are once again being impacted in Central Taiwan.
In Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen announced that this year’s Central Taiwan Lantern Festival, originally due to be held in Taichung in February, will be cancelled.
She also announced that the Lunar New Year shopping activity at the Tianjin Street Shopping District will also be cancelled.
They are still deliberating on other Lunar New Year shopping activities at other shopping districts, who will have to submit pandemic prevention plans to the city.
Along with delaying the city’s weiya spring dinners, the city’s mass prayer ceremony welcoming the spring will be cancelled.
In Changhua’s townships, weiya dinners are all cancelled, but they are still considering whether to go ahead with mass prayer activities and lantern festival activities under strict guidelines.
Nantou County is taking a similar approach and is considering cancelling their lantern festival, though it may go head under central government pandemic prevention guidelines.

Pollution on the wane, Lu claims credit

Mayor Lu is touting the reduction of Taichung’s air pollution as a big success for her administration.
Last year, the average PM2.5 level dropped to 15.4 mg, down from 17.7 in 2019 and 22.8 in 2016.
This marks the biggest drop of any of the big six metropolises.
However, the WHO standard is PM2.5 of 10, while the US standard is 12.
The number of days with an AQI rating of over 100, which is an orange alert indicating the air is unhealthy for people with certain conditions, dropped to 27 days–a big drop from 44 a year earlier.
One major factor is that coal burned at the Taichung Power Plant dropped by nearly 4 million metric tons in the last two years, to 12.29 million tons last year.
To tackle the issue going forward, the mayor issued a Climate Emergency Declaration featuring 8 goals.
Some, like making Taichung a coal-free city by 2023, would require the cooperation of the state-owned Taipower and the central government.
Other goals include reducing PM2.5 to 12 and a cut in all greenhouse gas emissions of 30% by 2030, plus increasing the number of electric buses and vehicles on the road.

MRT testing to resume

Taichung’s MRT, which had to be halted due to faulty couplings connecting the train cars, are starting to receive and test replacement couplings.
Although it will take until February 2 to get all the trains fitted with the new couplings, some already are and will begin running them on Tuesdays and Thursdays to test them.
The tests will not be open to the public.
Once enough tests have been held and approved, they will begin tests limited to 536 people per train.
No date has been set for that.

Moves afoot to try and recall Taichung legislator

Following the successful recall of a DPP Taoyuan city councillor and getting a recall on the ballot for a Kaohsiung city councillor, KMT supporters are working to recall a bigger fish: Taichung’s second district Legislator Chen Po-wei of the Taiwan Statebuilding Party.
Chen, also known as 3Q or Wonda, is the only Taiwan Statebuilding Party lawmaker in the legislature, and has often clashed with the KMT.
The effort to launch a recall is being led by Lo Chih-chiang, the Director of the KMT’s school, The Institute of Revolutionary Practice, and a sitting Taipei City Councillor.
He is backed by at least one Taichung City councillor and a neighborhood borough chief.
Their accusations against Chen are that he doesn’t care about food safety or air pollution and that he advocates for marijuana legalization, among other things.
Chen stated he has nothing to apologize to his constituents for.

Surprise find during historical restorations

During renovations of the nationally designated historical site the Taichung Prefectural Hall, inside of a wall they discovered a large safe.
The safe has been dated to 1976 or later, but no one seems to know why it was put there and by whom.
The renovations are currently 31% complete.
When the renovations are done, they plan to hire a locksmith to try and open the safe to find out what is inside.

No finder’s keepers in Taiwan

A Taiwanese-Japanese woman recently went to visit her relatives in Puli Township, Nantou County, where she lost her wallet.
She reported to police it contained NT$4,800 as well as several forms of ID.
Officers set out to review surveillance camera footage along the route the woman took the day of the event.
Police eventually identified the suspect, who later confessed that he picked up the wallet, took out the NT$4,800, and threw the wallet along with the IDs into a mailbox on the street.
The police said the suspect likely broke the national criminal code, which stipulates that it’s illegal to take lost property.
He was referred to the Nantou District Prosecutors Office for further investigation and prosecution.

Nightclub in hot water

A nightclub in Taichung that opened on the ninth is under investigation by prosecutors for public obscenity over some dirty dancing, and separately by the Department of Animal Protection.
On one occasion three hired foreign dancers, clad in skintight clothes danced in a very suggestive way, and were videotaped–prompting the investigation, though it is unclear if the law applies to clothed dancers.
In the other, the club hired a “hot girl” to stand with an alpaca.
Animal protection claims that a noisy club is an inappropriate place for an alpaca, and noted that like people they get up and go to bed with sun.
Apparently people staying up late is acceptable, but keeping an alpaca up past its bedtime may have breached the Animal Protection Act.
The alpaca is in protective custody.

By Kyle Flood from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada – Alpaca, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3434607

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