Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Thursday directed that the government’s COVID-19 relief funds be expanded by adding an additional budget of approximately NT$200 billion (US$6.79 billion).
Su directed the allocation of the additional budget to help businesses affected by the pandemic and fund the procurement of disease prevention supplies and the purchase, research and development of vaccines.
Taiwan will invest NT$4.2 billion (US$145 million) in developing smart transportation in the next four years so that it can better serve disadvantaged people, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said.
The planned investment will be a continuation of its current 2017-2020 transportation improvement project and will focus on the needs of people living in remote areas as well as senior citizens.
The Legislature on Friday approved the appointment of 11 members of the Examination Yuan, the branch of government that is responsible for administering national civil servant exams and appointing, training and protecting the rights of civil service personnel.
Former Education Minister Huang Jong-tsun (黃榮村) was confirmed as president of the Examination Yuan in a 65-3 vote.
The DPP has 63 members in the legislature and lawmakers of the opposition KMT and Taiwan People’s Party abstained.
Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), a human rights lawyer and a former legislator of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, was conferred the National Order of Merit (Ordre national du Mérite), with the rank of knight, by the government of France.
Taiwanese travelers to all four constituent countries of the United Kingdom will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival beginning Friday, a spokesperson for Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said.
The ranking Republican in the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, said he believes recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign, independent country would be the harshest punishment that the U.S. could inflict on Beijing.
The Texas representative expressed his belief that the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ideology is destined to fail.
In a press briefing on the US decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the WHO has repeatedly shown its deficiencies by failing to fulfill its fundamental missions.
One of those deficiencies is Taiwan’s exclusion as an observer in the WHO’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly (WHA), he said, in response to a question by CNA on the issue.
“We tried to do the simple thing, to get Taiwan to be able to participate as an observer, and the Chinese Communist Party influence prevented that from happening,” he said. “I think that’s very telling.”
Presidential campaign funding figures released
President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) presidential campaign this year ended with a NT$24.13 million (US$814,845) deficit, while Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) campaign for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had a NT$30.19 million surplus, the Control Yuan said in a report published yesterday.
People First Party candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) also listed a deficit for election spending of about NT$30 million, the report showed.
Interestingly, the report showed that the Han campaign also paid NT$31,500 for an appearance on the YouTube channel The Night Night Show (博恩夜夜秀), which was 2.5 times the NT$13,100 the Tsai campaign spent to appear on the show.
If you speak Chinese, I highly recommend the show, it’s a hilarious show loosely based on US shows like the Daily Show.
Tsai and her running mate, William Lai (賴清德), received NT$564.76 million in donations, including NT$338.14 million from individuals, NT$160.56 million from corporate donors, NT$6.44 million from private groups and foundations, and NT$59.56 million from anonymous donors and others.
The Han campaign received NT$456.31 million, including NT$371.12 million from individuals, NT$45.26 million from corporate donors, NT$1.23 million from private groups and foundations, and NT$32.67 million from anonymous donors and others.
Adding up the amounts for individual donors, anonymous donors and others, the two campaigns raised roughly a similar amount.
What is very striking, however, is Tsai raised over NT$160 million while Han only got just over NT$45 million from corporate donors.
That’s a sea change, and marks a significant shift.
The KMT used to be the party more trusted to handle the economy, and businesses with operations in China were much more supportive of the more China-friendly party.
If memory serves in the last election the DPP and KMT candidates raised similar amounts, indicating a shift was underway, and businesses knew which way the wind was blowing in that election.
This time the DPP candidate outraised the KMT candidate by 3.5 times among corporate donors.
Some of that can probably be accounted for by businesses betting Tsai would win, and may have been turned off by Han’s erratic behaviour.
But there is also a good chance that they viewed the DPP administration as more competent at handling the economy.
Even a decade ago that would have been almost unimaginable.
KMT chair Johnny Chiang says he’ll resign if KMT loses Kaohsiung city council speaker race
KMT chair Johnny Chiang has said he’ll resign if the KMT loses the Kaohsiung city council speaker race.
The position has been open since the last speaker, Hsu Kun-yuan (許崑源), committed suicide following the Han recall.
There has apparently been some infighting over this race.
In the 65 seat Kaohsiung City Council, 31 seats are held by the KMT with allies People’s First Party holding one seat.
The DPP holds 25 seats, and allies the Taiwan Solidarity Union holds one.
The New Power Party holds two seats, and here are five independents.
I’d almost forgotten about the TSU, a KMT splinter party that supports Taiwan independence and looked to former president Lee Tung-hui for inspiration.
They were once something of a force in the legislature, but it’s been awhile since they’ve held any seats there.
Apparently some of the independents and the NPP haven’t declared which side they’re going to support.
In related news, the wife of Hsu Kun-yuan is suing seven people for slander for suggesting that her husband’s suicide was because of gambling debts incurred by betting on the election.
So far, the police have not released any information suggesting that is the case.
Control Yuan rules in favour of nurses
The Control Yuan on Monday censured the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) after an investigation found that registered nurses were being overworked.
Registered nurses were also not given hazard pay, despite their work being laborious and dangerous they ruled.
This has been an ongoing problem, and is one of the flaws with the National Health Insurance system.
To keep costs low, the system controls payments.
Those savings, which benefit you and me, often come at the expense of nurses and some services.
Due to the pressure of the job, and turnover is high, exacerbating the problem.
If I recall correctly, the average time a nurse stays in the profession before leaving is only eight years.
Is Taiwan eyeing stronger ties with India?
Taiwan may be making moves to strengthen ties with India.
Career diplomat Tien Chung-kwang (田中光) has been appointed as deputy foreign minister.
He had been serving as Taiwan’s representative to India since 2013.
That’s a long time.
A report in Indian publication The Tribune had this line:
“Not only does such an arrangement convey approval for Tien’s performance as Taiwan’s representative to India over the past seven years, but it also suggests that the relationship with India is likely to become one of Taiwan’s important diplomatic priorities in the future,” said a Taiwan media analysis.
Of course we don’t know that for sure, but making someone with extensive knowledge of India the second in command at the foreign ministry is an interesting choice.
With tensions with China high, there have been considerable calls recently in the Indian media for stronger ties with Taiwan.
Plus, Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy–which includes India–is trying to encourage companies to relocate out of China.
India could be a good option.
It has economies of scale and a huge internal market like China does.
They are also very strong in software, which is very complimentary to Taiwan’s strengths in hardware.
And that is starting to happen.
According to a Reuters report, Apple is gradually moving its production line from China to other countries, and scaling up the manufacturing process in India is part of the plans.
It has reportedly gotten a commitment from Hon Hai (aka Foxconn) to join them with a US$1 billion plant to supply Apple’s plans.
Taiwan calls on citizens to avoid China, Hong Kong and Macau
Speaking of avoiding China, Taiwan’s top government agency in charge of China affairs on Thursday called on Taiwanese nationals to avoid traveling to China, Hong Kong and Macau, citing the increased risk of facing prosecution on allegations of violating the newly implemented Hong Kong national security law.
A spokesman for the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), said the “vaguely defined” clauses of the law could be interpreted broadly.
He said it has thus largely increased the risk of facing possible prosecution as one could break the law without intending to.
Once found to have violated the law, one could be transferred to mainland China to face charges under Chinese laws, regardless of his or her nationality, he said.
He also said if they are already there, they should reconsider their needs to remain in Chinese territories.
This is a dramatic statement, especially considering there are nearly half a million Taiwanese living and working in China.
Frequently used figures like one or two million Taiwanese in China are probably wrong, and official numbers are over 400,000, but there are probably some uncounted people over there.
Highly unlikely to be half a million to a million and a half uncounted, however.
It is unclear how much of a deterrent this statement will be to Taiwanese, but no doubt some will think twice as a result.
However, I think most will be taking a wait-and-see approach.
It is still unclear how strongly, or sparingly, China will be enforcing this law.
For example, I already know I am on China’s radar and my work got a website blocked in China very early on when they had only just begun setting up the great firewall of China.
In theory, I could be arrested.
Question is, would they?
If they apply the law to every critic, there will be a huge backlash and people will stay away in droves.
If they rarely apply it, and only to a handful of critics they genuinely fear, there will still be a backlash, but minor critics may not feel too worried.
They may even choose to not use it in Hong Kong for foreign nationals, preferring to keep the threat in reserve.
Where they draw the line is something to watch closely.
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