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Thousands of smuggled orchids seized in Taiwan

Focus Taiwan
Date: 2015/04/10
By: Shen Ju-feng and Lee Hsin-Yin

Taipei, April 10 (CNA) The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) on Friday seized around 12,000 lady’s slipper orchids worth an estimated NT$5 million (US$160,000) in Yunlin County that were smuggled into Taiwan from China, the agency said.

The Coast Guard arrested a man surnamed Shen (沈) who is suspected of smuggling the orchids from Guangxi Province into Taiwan through express delivery services and mini-links ferry services between Taiwan-controlled offshore areas and ports in Fujian Province.

Shen bought the orchids at a cost of NT$5 each and sold them for between NT$300 and NT$1,500 each, Coast Guard officials said.     [FULL  STORY]

7 protected sea turtles released into sea at Penghu Islands

Want China Times
Date: 2015-04-10
By: CNA

One hawksbill sea turtle and six green sea turtles were released into the sea Wednesday by

A sea turtle heads towards the sea after release in Penghu, April 8. (Photo/CNA)

A sea turtle heads towards the sea after release in Penghu, April 8. (Photo/CNA)

their caregivers at a sea turtle shelter in Penghu, an island group off the southwestern coast of Taiwan, drawing nearly 200 spectators.

The sea turtles were all rescued and brought to the Penghu Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center at different times over the years after being found injured or in poor health, according to center staff.

The hawksbill turtle, for example, was taken to the center in April 2009 after its shell was penetrated by a speargun, they said.     [FULL  STORY]

Most of Taipei firefighers’ suits said to be ‘expired’

‘NEVER BEEN INSPECTED’:National Association for Firefighters’ Rights secretary-general Cheng Ya-ling said that the majority of protective clothing has not been tested

Taipei Times
Date: Apr 11, 2015
By: Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Seventy percent of the fire suits worn by Taipei firefighters are “expired” and potentially worn out, putting their lives at risk, city councilors said yesterday.

Taipei City councilors Wang Wei-chung (王威中) and Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said that an inventory list provided by the Taipei Fire Department showed only 349 suits for the department’s 1,243 firefighters. While the department claimed that any additional suits had been “scrapped,” interviews with firefighters revealed that close to 1,000 expired suits with more than three years of usage continued to be worn by city firefighters, the councilors said.     [FULL  STORY]

Thousands rally at Taiwan’s legislature to demand democracy

Focus Taiwan
Date: 2015/04/10
By: Lee Hsin-Yin

Taipei, April 10 (CNA) Over 1,000 people on Friday rallied at the Legislative Yuan to demand 201504100031t0001law amendments that they say will improve Taiwan’s democracy, one year after student activists evacuated the legislative chamber to end their 24-day protest against a controversial trade pact with China.

The protestors demanded lawmakers pass amendments to Taiwan’s Referendum Act and Civil Servants Election and Recall Act during the current legislative session before Oct. 3 to “give the power back to the people.”     [FULL  STORY]

Avian flu infections in China raise travel concerns

Want China Times
Date: 2015-04-10
By: CNA

China has reported three new cases of avian flu infections early this month, raising travel

A poultry vendor at a farmers' market in Kunming, Yunnan, March 31. (File photo/CNS)

A poultry vendor at a farmers’ market in Kunming, Yunnan, March 31. (File photo/CNS)

alerts to the country, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Thursday.

Shanghai saw two H7N9 cases on April 4 and April 6, while Yunnan province in the southwestern part of the country reported one H5N1 case on April 3, the agency said.

In Shanghai, a 52-year-old male and a 37-year-old female have been infected, according to the CDC. The male has been recovering, while the female remains in critical condition.

The Yunnan case involves a six-year-old boy, who has recovered, the CDC said.     [FULL  STORY]

Military officers in spy case released on bail

Taipei Times
Date: Apr 11, 2015
By: Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Two air force officers accused of spying for China, retired Colonel Ke Chi-hsien (葛季賢) and

Former air force colonel Ke Chi-hsien, center, is escorted by investigation bureau officers yesterday as he is taken to the Taipei District Court for questioning in connection with his alleged involvement in a Chinese spy ring in Taiwan.  Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times

Former air force colonel Ke Chi-hsien, center, is escorted by investigation bureau officers yesterday as he is taken to the Taipei District Court for questioning in connection with his alleged involvement in a Chinese spy ring in Taiwan. Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times

Lieutenant Colonel Lou Wen-ching (樓文卿), were released on bail of NT$200,000 (US$6,4 02) last night after being taken for questioning at the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office.

After admitting to having been recruited as members of a spy ring and passing on classified military information to China, Ke and Lou were granted bail and released, but prohibited from exiting the country, prosecutors said.

The two men were transferred to the custody of Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday afternoon, after being detained and questioned on Thursday by officers from the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau (MJIB) section in charge of national security matters.     [FULL  STORY]

Lawmakers in Taiwan agree to lower referendum voting age to 18

Want China Times
Date: 2015-04-09
By: CNA

Lawmakers in Taiwan across party lines agreed Wednesday that the voting age for

Activists outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei call for reform of the Referendum Act, April 8. (Photo/Yao Chih-ping)

Activists outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei call for reform of the Referendum Act, April 8. (Photo/Yao Chih-ping)

referendums should be lowered from 20 to 18.

After a review of an amendment to the Referendum Act, legislators reached a consensus that citizens who are 18 or older can vote in referendums.

However, people who are deemed by the courts to be incapable of making an informed decision through disability will not be allowed to vote.

The lowered minimum voting age is aimed at letting more young people participate in the electoral process.

French office warns of scam targetting Taiwanese people

Focus Taiwan
Date: 2015/04/09
By: Tang Pei-chun and Ted Chen

Taipei, April 9 (CNA) The Bureau Francais de Taipei (法國在台協會) said Thursday that it is not

Photo from www.alsos.com.tw

Photo from www.alsos.com.tw

aware of any recruitment efforts by the French Foreign Legion in Taiwan, and suspects a scam, after local media reported the office was recruiting Taiwanese people to work in France for a high salary.

Local media have been covering an employment agency advertisement that promised prospective Taiwanese mercenaries yearly salaries of at least 40,000 euros, permanent residency in France if they are chosen by the French Foreign Legion and complete at least five years of service.

The bureau emphasized that by law, the French Foreign Legion is only authorized to recruit on French soil, adding that it is unlikely that the military service wing of the French Army will require the services of a Taiwanese employment agency for new blood.     [FULL  STORY]

Military’s VIP tour scandal grows

Taipei Times
Date: Apr 10, 2015
By: Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Investigators have discovered that a March 29 tour given to showbiz personality Janet Lee (李蒨蓉) and others of the 601st Air Cavalry Brigade’s AH-64E Apache helicopters was not the only such visit by civilians to off-limits bases.

Minister of National Defense Kao Kuang-chi (高廣圻) yesterday said that another civilian group was allowed onto the base in Taoyuan’s Longtan District (龍潭) and into the Apaches’ hangar the same day as Lee’s tour.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of National Defense said two other “privileged access” tours had taken place over the Lunar New Year holiday, on Feb. 20 and Feb. 22.     [FULL  STORY]

Taiwan establishes Chinese studies center in Oxford

Want China Times
Date: 2015-04-09
By: CNA and Staff Reporter

Taiwan’s National Central Library said Wednesday it has launched a partnership with the

The president of Taiwan's National Central Library, Tseng Shu-hsien, second right, and the deputy librarian of the Bodleian, Catriona Cannon, center, at the Chinese studies center in Oxford, April 8. (Photo/CNA)

The president of Taiwan’s National Central Library, Tseng Shu-hsien, second right, and the deputy librarian of the Bodleian, Catriona Cannon, center, at the Chinese studies center in Oxford, April 8. (Photo/CNA)

University of Oxford to establish the country’s 14th center for Chinese studies overseas.

The center in Oxford will both provide resources for Chinese studies and promote the academic accomplishments of Taiwanese scholars, the library said.

Both sides also signed another memorandum of understanding to exchange their books in hopes to facilitate academic discourse, it said.

The center in Oxford is the second of its kind Taiwan has founded in Britain, following another at the University of London in 2012.

Taiwan has been establishing such centers in countries around the world including the United States and Russia since 2012.