The Ministry of Education (MOE) said it will help facilitate the return of foreign students who wish to continue their studies in Taiwan but have not been able to do so due to the country’s border restrictions amid the pandemic.
The MOE said, however, that such an undertaking would depend on whether the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) eases the border control measures, and whether schools have adequate facilities for the mandatory 14-day quarantine of returning foreign students.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has released guidelines for the collection of personal data by public venues for health authorities to use if needed for COVID-19-related investigations.
Collected information can only be used at the request of health authorities for COVID-19 investigations, said the head of the center’s information team.
People should be told what type of information is being collected, its purpose, the person or entity responsible for its collection, and how the information is to be used, he said.
All information should be kept confidential and deleted after 28 days, he said.
This is a good sign.
Article 7 of the law passed to bring in measures to deal with the coronavirus gave unlimited, blanket power to the CECC, in effect until the end of June.
They implemented several measures that would otherwise be totally illegal, including tracking people’s personal cell phones, without at the time letting the people know.
From my experience of quarantine, I found the experience of discovering my cell phone was being monitored by the government very unsettling, as there had been no indication in the press other than one comment buried among other measures that they were “considering” it as a possibility.
It appears now they are once again taking civil liberties seriously again.
A group of researchers based in Taiwan and the United Kingdom have found a key antibody against COVID-19 that could be used to develop medication for the disease, a Chang Gung University (CGU) professor said Thursday.
The antibody has the ability to prevent SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from entering human cells, and has a 90 percent to 98 percent efficacy rate.
Antibody drugs are usually safer and cause fewer side effects as they are made from antibodies that the body naturally produces.
If all goes well, the medicine could be on the market by the end of the year.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said it plans to help local
companies export micro surgical face mask factories as a package amid the rising need for face masks around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MOFA will offer the package to interested international buyers through its more than 100 representative offices abroad.
Based on an initial plan, a micro surgical face mask factory will consist of 20 production lines.
Once complete, it will have a daily production capacity of 2 million face masks.
The factory can be converted to produce N95 or R95 face masks, as needed.
Sounds like a clever plan.
Vote buying conviction for former Fantasy 4 member
The Taipei District Court on Wednesday sentenced Fanny Liu (劉樂妍), a former member of the now-disbanded female pop group Fantasy 4, to 10 years in prison for vote-buying, though she can still appeal.
The court found Liu — who is now based in China and has made pro-Chinese Communist Party remarks — guilty of reducing the rent on a Taipei property she owned in exchange for the tenant voting for a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate in the November 2018 nine-in-one local elections.
Liu was to appear in court last year, but did not show up, citing her busy work schedule in China, prosecutors said, adding that they first learned of the vote-buying when Liu posted about it on Facebook.
“What I’m doing here is not vote-buying, but rather it is intervening in the elections with Chinese capital,” she wrote.
Taiwan’s Hong Kong law reaction
I said yesterday I was going to go into this today.
Sorry, I lied, I’m not going to, got some big things to cover and this story is still very much in flux.
Focus Taiwan is reporting:
“Lawmakers in Taiwan are planning to release a joint statement on the issue Friday, according to Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃).
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), Taiwan People’s Party and New Power Party have all written draft statements, and representatives from each party will work on finalizing a single version by Friday morning, You said.”
I am recording this on Friday morning, and it hasn’t come out yet…so more tomorrow.
“Peaceful reunification” back on the PRC menu
After dropping the term “peaceful” from their address during the two sessions held in Beijing, the media jumped all over it.
However, in what appears to be a way of making it clear that wasn’t a meaningful change, the CCP mouthpiece Global Times released this one sentence post:
“China will promote the peaceful reunification of the country, Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday in response to a question related to Taiwan.”
Will the Han recall campaign succeed?
The Han recall vote is next Saturday.
Will the recall campaigners succeed?
Legally for 10 days prior to the elections I can’t talk about specific poll numbers, but I can point out something I’ve noted before:
The number of people saying they will “definitely vote” and plan to vote to recall Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu isn’t enough on its own to succeed.
To pass, it will need a fair number of “maybe will vote” or “undecided” voters to come out and cast their votes to oust the mayor for the campaign to succeed.
So will they?
With that key question in mind, we are fortunate that Eryk Michael Smith–my ICRT counterpart in Kaohsiung–dropped a fascinating piece at Ketagalan Media.
Let me read a few juicy bits from that article:
“What I do is talk to people. As many as I can.
I want soundbites, impressions and feelings… and I have a feeling Han just might survive this death sentence.
It started back in April.
In February and March, people were adamant: Han had to go.
His plans are nonsense, he is classless and tactless, he’s a showboat who prefers political stunts over action, he held back the city’s development with an ill-advised run for president, and on top of it all, he’s unapologetic!
Maybe COVID-19 had something to do with it, but I reckon it’s simpler: Taiwanese voters—being human—have short memories and short attention spans.
After May 15, when Han finally broke his silence and asked his supporters not to vote via a Facebook post, I continued my chats with the militantly deep-Green dude at the bian dang shop, a light-Green Uni professor, a deep-Blue retired Air Force officer and a light-Blue school teacher acquaintance.
I detected a softening in all of them.
Sure, the deep-Green guy is still gonna vote “out” on 6/6, but he didn’t seem as angry as before.
The light-Green friend started saying things like, “Well, Han has kind of been doing his job of late. Is it really worth the trouble and expense? We’ll dump him in 2022.”
On the Blue side, both shades were indicating they planned to follow Han’s video call to simply not participate.
Speaking with random people, such as a vacationer at a Kenting beach or a taxi driver, similar notions were expressed.
“Think of all the positions a new mayor will need to fill.” “The new mayor will only be in office for roughly two years before we’ll have to do it all over again.” “This is gonna cost hundreds of millions; Kaohsiung is already in debt.” “Han might be a bit dim, but his inner team seems reasonably solid.”
The article goes on to include this:
Han made a wise—or shrewd—move on May 15, 2020 when he apologized to Kaohsiung residents for his 2020 presidential run at a city council session.
The response to Han’s semi-mea culpa from Kaohsiung’s DPP city councilors was harsh; especially from city councilor Chen Chih-chung 陳致中, the son of former President Chen Shui-bian 陳水扁.
Even some of those who will definitely vote “yes” on the recall said afterwards that the DPP attackers came out of that meeting looking cruel and overly vindictive.
It’s hard not to feel a twinge of sympathy for a guy who’s getting kicked while he’s down.”
Powerful stuff, and the kind of on-the-ground material I can’t get from here in Taichung.
That’s just a taste, the whole article is a must-read!
There is a link to the article on Report.tw.
Hou Yu-yi is a powerhouse, but the KMT is in the doghouse
Another must-read came out on Frozen Garlic entitled Public opinion in May 2020.
Definitely read the whole thing, and as always there is a link to it on Report.tw.
He analyzes public support for the DPP versus the KMT, and the picture is dire for the KMT.
Their support has totally cratered, while the DPP continues to ride high.
As he notes in the article:
“So far, the picture has been that people think the DPP government has done a good job, but that really hasn’t paid off in clearly higher partisan support.
The DPP’s relative position has improved because the KMT has suffered a loss in support.”
Interestingly, the same day that comes out, Global Views Magazine drops their latest opinion polling on local governments and local government heads.
Except for one very bright spot, it is dire reading for the KMT.
The survey was of all of Taiwan’s 21 administrative areas, but because of the recall vote coming up, they had to leave out the numbers for Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu.
In similar surveys in the past, he was always right down near the bottom.
The one very bright spot of good news for the KMT is that New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-yi is the most popular local government head in the country.
His administration came in third best in the nation.
The KMT did reasonably well in a few other jurisdictions, but they are all places with small populations like Matsu, Hualien, Nantou and Taitung.
Of the six jurisdictions run by the DPP, the top two ranking administrations on the list were theirs: Pingtung and Taoyuan.
Overall only one DPP administration failed to make the top 10, Chiayi came in at number 11.
Aside from Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je of the TPP coming in second to last, the entire bottom half of the table was dominated by KMT administrations.
The Mayor of Taichung–Taiwan’s second largest city–Lu Shiow-yen personally came in second-to-last on the list, while her administration came in dead last.
Changhua and their county commissioner was also down near the bottom of the list, meaning that the DPP is very likely to re-capture the centre of Taiwan in 2022–along with much of the country.
While that would be a blow to the KMT in terms of power exercised, it also means something else very dire for the KMT:
Outside of Hou Yu-yi, they have no stars rising up.
Even if Han Kuo-yu survives the recall, he’s no longer a rising star.
Lu Shiow-yen, if she were popular, would be a bright light for the party…but it doesn’t look like she’s got much of a future now.
So, outside of Hou and maybe legislators like Johnny Chiang and Chiang Wan-an, the KMT has few stars.
The DPP, however, has a whole slate of them.
Many cabinet ministers, the mayors of Taoyuan, Keelung, Hsinchu and Tainan, plus the vice president are all viable big stars for the party going forward–never mind some of their more high profile lawmakers.
The DPP is also grooming a whole new generation of leaders, with people like Sunflower star Lin Fei-fan.
Of course the concern here is that with parties like the TPP and NPP still small, and the KMT spiralling downwards, who will be a viable democratic alternative to the DPP?
Image courtesy of Mayor Hou Yu-yi’s Facebook page