Friday, March 30, 2012

British expert explains the EU ban on ractopamine

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Use of the animal feed additive ractopamine only benefits meat producers and has negative effects on humans, a British professor who sits on a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) panel said yesterday.

“Ractopamine usage benefits producers, but not consumers. It is bad for animal welfare and has some bad effects on humans,” Donald Broom, a professor at the University of Cambridge’s department of veterinary medicine, concluded in his 30-minute brief at a forum in Taipei.

Public rejects ‘one country, two areas’

PANNED BY POLL::A survey this week showed about 60 percent of people rejected the ‘one country, two areas’ formulation put forward by Wu Poh-hsiung
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Fri, Mar 30, 2012 - Page 3

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday reiterated its demand for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to apologize for the ruling party’s “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” proposal after nearly 60 percent of the respondents in an opinion poll said they disagreed with the initiative.

The survey, conducted by the DPP on Monday and Tuesday, polled respondents for their views on the controversial proposal, which was touted by former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) during his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) on March 22 in Beijing.

‘Some injustice’ in urban act: minister

ANGER::Lawmakers grilled Cabinet officials over the eviction of a family and police clashes with protesters on Wednesday, and demanded changes to the law
By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter
Fri, Mar 30, 2012 - Page 1

Following a day of clashes between protesters and police, Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) yesterday said there were “elements of injustice” involved in the dispute over the city’s urban renewal project.

The project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林), under which a construction firm plans to turn an old residential complex for 38 households into a 15-story high-rise apartment complex, was stalled for three years because of opposition from a family surnamed Wang (王), who had lived in the area for decades. The Wangs were evicted on Wednesday and their two stand-alone homes demolished.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Legislators take aim at Taipower ‘fat cat’ employees

NICE PACKAGE:Employees at Taipower earn more than twice the average salary and get a 4.6-month annual bonus, but the company still wants to raise electricity rates
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

There are too many “fat cats” at state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) and the resultant high personnel costs have illegitimized the company’s plan to raise electricity prices, lawmakers said yesterday.

It would be unfair for the company, which claims to be losing money, to raise electricity prices by 30 percent as planned when its employees earn two to three times the national average, lawmakers of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union said in a joint meeting held at the Legislative Yuan.

Fujian governor has broken Taiwan’s law: pan greens

PROMOTING CHINA:A Mainland Affairs Council official said that Su Shulin did not do anything ‘inappropriate,’ while the interior ministry promised to launch a probe
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

China’s Fujian Province Governor Su Shulin (蘇樹林) has violated Taiwanese law by promoting investment in China and should be expelled, pan-green lawmakers said yesterday.

The Chinese official had made high-profile comments to attract Taiwanese investment to the province’s Pingtan Comprehensive Experimental Zone during his visit, despite a Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) warning against such a move, lawmakers said.

DPP demands Ma apology over policy

‘ONE COUNTRY, TWO AREAS’:The party said the president had ignored legislative oversight, in addition to breaking his promise of not pursuing unification with China
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday condemned the ruling party’s controversial “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” proposal and demanded that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) apologize and clarify his stance on Taiwan’s status.

If Ma failed to disclose the policymaking process behind the proposal, which the DPP said would make unification Taiwan’s only option, the DPP would not rule out “any form of action that could express Taiwanese people’s anger,” DPP spokesperson Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) told a press conference.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pro-independence groups split on Chen amnesty

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Pro-independence groups were divided on the issue of amnesty for former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) appeared to be retreating from the issue.

Several DPP lawmakers and civic groups raised the amnesty issue after Chen, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence for corruption, was granted a temporary release from Taipei Prison on March 6 for a medical examination at Taoyuan General Hospital.

Ma, Wu should be accountable: groups

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should be held accountable for the “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” concept, which is tantamount to surrendering Taiwan to China, pro-localization groups said yesterday.

Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文), convener of the Taiwan National Alliance, told a press conference that Taiwan does not belong to China and Wu’s “one country, two areas” proposal was an “offense against the external security of the state (外患罪)” because his remarks had led others to think that Taiwan is a region within China.

Pan-greens want Constitution changed

UNIFICATION OUT:Pan-green legislators and a pro-independence group want to remove ‘unification’ from the Additional Articles of the Constitution
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Pan-green lawmakers put forward a proposal to amend the Constitution to remove unification-related wording amid a controversy surrounding the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) new “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” concept.

The legislators unveiled their proposal, which would also enshrine the right to referendum into the text, at a press conference where they were backed by the pro--independence Taiwan Society.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TSU reaffirms Lin position

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) yesterday reiterated that Justin Lin (林毅夫), who defected to China in 1979 and currently works as a vice president at the World Bank, should not be allowed to return to Taiwan because of his continued act of treason. TSU party whip Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said Lin’s case was different from the spies who were captured in China, making the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) planned prisoner exchange program illegitimate because Lin “had betrayed the army, Taiwan and his comrades.” Lin’s return would pave the way for the return of other Taiwanese defectors, TSU lawmaker Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) said. The TSU said it supports the position of the Ministry of National Defense, which said on March 14 that Lin would be arrested and face treason charges if he returned.

Tsai blasts proposed ‘one country, two areas’ policy

NO NEGOTIATIONS:Tsai Ing-wen said the president had ‘ambushed’ and ‘bullied’ the opposition parties by making decisions on the country’s status in private
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to reverse his “one country, two areas” (一國兩區) proposal, which she referred to as a “policy that would cause instability and misery to the country.”

The proposal, brought up by former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) in his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in Beijing on Thursday last week, is dangerous, Tsai said in a press release.

TSU urges public to protest on day of Ma’s inauguration

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) yesterday urged the public to take to the streets on May 20 to protest what it called President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) incompetence, and especially against the government’s controversial proposal of “one country, two areas” (一國兩區).

Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) made the proposal during a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in Beijing on Thursday.

Pingtan ‘somewhat’ political: spy chief

NOTHING NEW::The NSB head said that the economic project, like any of China’s Taiwan policies, had a political angle, and that he would not back it if it risked national security
By Rich Chang and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters
Tue, Mar 27, 2012 - Page 1

China’s Pingtan Comprehensive Experimental Zone project is partly politically motivated, the nation’s spymaster said in the legislature yesterday, adding his voice to those of lawmakers who suspect ulterior motives behind the project.

China set up the zone in its Fujian Province and has suggested that Taiwan participate in its development under “five commons” — common planning, common development, common operation, common management and common benefits.

‘One country’ remarks indicate dysfunction: DPP

OUT OF THE LOOP::Lai Shin-yuan and Tsai Der-sheng told the legislature that they were not consulted nor briefed on Wu Poh-hsiung’s trip to Beijing last week
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Tue, Mar 27, 2012 - Page 1

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) are reverting Taiwan to a single-party state with their ill-conceived proposal that cross-strait relations be conducted under the concept of “one country, two areas (一國兩區),” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday.

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) and National Security Bureau (NSB) Director-General Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝) said in the legislature yesterday that they were not consulted nor briefed on former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung’s (吳伯雄) trip to Beijing, where Wu made the proposal to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) on Thursday.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mass protest against ‘one country’ planned

SELF-DECEPTION:Su Huan-chih said that since most of the world recognizes the PRC as the legal government of China, Ma’s view that the ROC is the ‘one China’ is fantasy
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Tainan county commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) yesterday said he was planning to hold a march of 100,000 people on May 20 to protest against the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” proposal.

The proposal, which was mentioned by former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) in his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in Beijing on Thursday, would have a devastating impact on Taiwan’s international status, he told a press conference.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tsai demands ‘two areas’ clarification

HIS OWN IDEA?The DPP’s former chairperson Tsai Ing-wen said President Ma needed to explain whether Wu Poh-hsiung had clearance to make his statement
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should explain to the public his view of the relationship between Taiwan and China after former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) made a controversial “one country, two areas” proposal in Bejing, former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.

“It was a dangerous statement and if President Ma accepts that one country represents the ROC [Republic of China], then he needs to explain the difference between the ROC and the PRC [People’s Republic of China], and the relationship between them,” Tsai said on the sidelines of a digital teleconference, during which she talked with Chinese dissident Wang Dan (王丹).

DPP, TSU pan ‘one country, two areas’

‘2012 CONSENSUS’::A DPP legislator said China is trying to turn the ‘1992 consensus’ into a new consensus which represents ‘one China, with an agreed interpretation’
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter
Sat, Mar 24, 2012 - Page 1

The pan-green camp yesterday lashed out at former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung’s (吳伯雄) “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” comments while meeting Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in Beijing on Thursday, saying it was a virtual elimination of the Republic of China (ROC) and an ill-intentioned step toward unification.

Wu met Hu in Beijing at the annual forum between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party, during which he proposed that cross-strait matters be tackled using a “one country, two areas” formula.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Judicial rights of Taiwanese in China threatened by new laws, legislator says

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Recently amended Chinese laws could jeopardize the judicial rights of Taiwanese in China, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said yesterday.

In addition to seeking closer economic ties with China, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration should pay closer attention to Beijing’s amended criminal code and detention regulations, Cheng told a press conference.

MEAT CONTROVERSY: DPP pledges partial support to pig farmers

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter, in Yunlin County

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday backed pig farmers’ calls for government compensation, but it remained undecided on whether to support a planned protest over falling pork prices related to the continuing US beef controversy.

“Being a mature and rational party, the DPP does not encourage pig farmers to take to the street and still prefers to solve the issue through negotiations,” DPP acting chairperson Chen Chu (陳菊) said in Douliou (斗六), Yunlin County. “But we will not sit by and watch them suffer if that [staging a protest] is their final decision.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Agencies at odds over minimum wages

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Government agencies were at odds yesterday over whether domestic and foreign workers should receive the same minimum wage, as Premier Sean Chen suggested an alternative option was possible.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Council of Labor Affairs have conflicting positions on the hotly debated issue, an issue that was raised by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟).

TSU says New Party eyes unification with Pingtan

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The New Party has made itself a “broker for unification” and Beijing’s endorser through its establishment of an organization to promote a planned cross-strait experimental zone in China, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) said yesterday.

The party’s motive behind its promotion of the Pingtan Comprehensive Experimental Zone in China’s Fujian Province was “suspicious,” TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) told a press conference after the pro-unification New Party announced yesterday the establishment of the Taiwan-Pingtan Relations Association.

KMT admonishes DPP to focus on non-beef issues

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday dismissed the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) continued criticisms of the government’s US beef import policy, urging the opposition party to focus political debate on the economy and other issues.

KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) defended what he said was the neutral stance of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration on the issue and said the DPP was using its officials to make the public believe that the former DPP government had not promised the WTO it would lift a ban on meats containing ractopamine in 2007.

DPP calls COA bird flu report ‘ridiculous’

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

A report on an internal investigation by the Council of Agriculture (COA) into an alleged cover-up an avian flu outbreak was described as “ridiculous” and “responsibility-shirking” by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday.

The report, released on Monday, concluded that there was no concealment by the council of the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian flu outbreak.

The report looked into five avian influenza outbreaks from 2008 until this year, including an outbreak in Sinshih (新市) in the then-Tainan county in March 2009, the outbreak in Fangyuan (芳苑), Changhua County, in late December last year and the outbreak in Liujia (六甲) in Greater Tainan, last month.

DPP calls for Chen’s release or transfer

HEALTH WOES:The ailing former president should be transferred to a prison with medical facilities, released for treatment or be granted amnesty, DPP lawmakers said
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday called for a release for medical treatment or a prison transfer for former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who has been suffering health problems during his incarceration.

Chen, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence for corruption, was granted a seven-day release from Taipei Prison between March 6 and Tuesday last week for a medical checkup. He was found to be suffering from acute coronary syndrome and underwent a cardiac catheterization.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Suspend all religious exchanges with China: TSU

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Taiwan should suspend all religious exchanges with China before Beijing stops its oppression on Tibetan monks, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) said yesterday.

TSU legislative caucus whip Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said China’s recent crackdown on Tibetan monks has been one of the most brutal cases of persecution in history, which has resulted in at least 20 monks dying from 30 cases of self-immolation since March last year.

DPP lawmakers join calls to reopen 319 Incident probe

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday called on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to reopen the investigation into the shooting of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) in 2004.

The appeal by the DPP caucus came after Chen and Lu made the same demands last week.

The March 19, 2004, shooting, also known as the 319 Incident, took place on election-eve, with Chen and Lu being re-elected.

DPP lawmakers decry series of price hikes

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Taiwanese have found it difficult to guard their wallets after President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election, because almost everything has become more expensive, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday.

“From gasoline to LPG [liquefied petroleum gas] to natural gas, and from fertilizer to tuition and health insurance ... you name it. The prices for all these things went up after Ma was re-elected,” DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.

It is ironic that the Cabinet, led by Premier Sean Chen , calls itself a “Cabinet of relief,” which is supposed to strengthen the economy and enrich the people, he said.

Poll shows fall in Ma’s approval rating

SAFETY ISSUES:The survey by Taiwan Thinktank is the third one this month to show the president losing support because of the government’s policy on US beef imports
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) approval rate has dropped to 38.5 percent, with two out of three people saying they are not satisfied with Ma’s handling of the US beef controversy, a poll showed yesterday.

The survey, conducted by Taiwan Thinktank on Wednesday and Thursday last week, was the third public opinion poll showing Ma’s approval ratings dipping below 40 percent in the past two weeks.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Analysts say DPP should pivot focus

TROUBLED TRIANGLE::Obsession with the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ has distorted the party’s thinking on how to counter China’s growing influence, academics said
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 - Page 3

The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) priority should be to reposition itself in terms of a new triangular relationship between the US, China and Taiwan, not to scramble to come up with a new China policy following the footsteps of the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), academics said yesterday.

The DPP has probably been looking in the wrong direction in the soul-searching that followed its defeat in the Jan. 14 presidential election, Lai I-chung (賴怡忠), a researcher at Taiwan Thinktank, said at a forum organized by the Taiwan Brain Trust think tank to examine the DPP’s China policy and Taiwan-China-US relations.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Government is trying to mislead public, DPP says

BEEFY DISTRACTION::DPP lawmakers questioned the timing of questions about feed additives for hogs and President Ma’s blaming of the previous administration
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter
Fri, Mar 16, 2012 - Page 3

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration appears to have coordinated a campaign to divert attention away from the US beef and ractopamine controversy by accusing local pig farmers of using more hazardous livestock feed additives, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.

“The latest series of developments in the US beef controversy appear to be a plot by the Executive Yuan to sacrifice local pig farmers and ease the pressure over the government’s planned easing of the ban” on ractopamine residue in beef products, DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) told a press conference.

Lu urges President Ma to reopen 319 shooting probe

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to relaunch an investigation into the controversial 319 shooting case in 2004, which she said remained a key issue that divides the public.

“It has been eight years [since the incident] and the division between pan-green and pan-blue supporters is still there. Taiwanese society will only be at ease when the truth is revealed,” Lu told a press conference.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ma vows to put public health first, denies deal with US

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday vowed that his administration would continue to place public health as the top priority when it partially lifts a ban on US beef imports and reiterated that he had not made any promises to Washington on the issue.

He said it was the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government that promised the US progress on resolving the beef issue and presented a plan in August 2007 to the WTO to establish maximum residue levels for ractopamine, but failed to carry it out.

Prison criticized for rejecting Chen’s request for transfer

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The office of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year jail sentence for corruption, said yesterday that it regretted to learn of Taipei Prison’s rejection of Chen’s request for a transfer to another prison after his return to the jail following medical treatment on Tuesday.

The prison rejected Chen’s request despite his meeting all the legal requirements for a transfer, the office said in a statement.

Justin Lin faces arrests if he returns: MND

DEFECTOR:Lin had committed treason under military law, and would be arrested immediately and face military prosecution upon entering Taiwan, the ministry said
By Rich Chang and Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporters

Justin Lin (林毅夫), who defected to China in 1979 and currently works as a vice president at the World Bank, would be arrested and face charges of treason if he came back to Taiwan, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday.

At a legislative meeting on March 7, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) urged the government to allow Lin to return to Taiwan on humanitarian grounds. Mainland Affairs Council Minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said at the time that while the council did not oppose Taiwanese who have lived in China for a long period of time returning to the country to visit family, Lin’s case was a military matter and the council respected the ministry’s position.

DPP spokesperson Lo visits China as party eases policy

BILATERAL EXCHANGES:The visit is seen as an ice-breaker and symbolic, as Lo Chih-cheng is the first opposition party official to visit China since 2008
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) became the first DPP member to visit China since the party unveiled its more China-friendly policy in the wake of its defeat in the presidential election in January.

Lo left for Yunnan, China, yesterday for a two-day academic forum on cross-strait relations after receiving permission from the DPP.

Lo is visiting China in his capacity as a professor, not a DPP representative, DPP acting chairperson Chen Chu (陳菊) said. Lo is a professor at Soochow University.

DPP sets May 27 for chairperson race

GET ROLLING::Former Tainan County head Su Huan-chih has announced his bid and many believe former premier Su Tseng-chang is close to declaring his candidacy
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter
Thu, Mar 15, 2012 - Page 3

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will hold its elections for chairperson on May 27, the party said yesterday, as former Tainan County commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) took the lead by formally announcing his bid for the party’s top post.

Election announcements will be released on April 2 and candidates for party chairperson and representatives can register for the elections from April 9 to 13, DPP spokesperson Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said after the party’s weekly Central Standing Committee meeting.

Investment rule relaxation questioned

INVESTMENT HUB-UB:One official said that investment from China would be appraised based on national security, industrial development and protection of sensitive technology
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The pan-green camp yesterday criticized an imminent decision by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to further relax restrictions on Chinese investment, saying it could jeopardize the local economy.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) said that while they did not oppose attracting foreign and Chinese investment, they were concerned at the potential ramifications of opening “sensitive” manufacturing sectors to China.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Include prisoner rights in cross-strait talks: groups

UNBALANCED:The groups said China refuses to detail how many Taiwanese are detained, while in Taiwan, all Chinese prisoners are afforded universal human rights
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Prisoner rights should be included in the next round of cross-strait negotiations so that visitation rights and the right to hire a lawyer are secured for all Taiwanese detained in China, rights groups said yesterday.

Representatives from human rights groups and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) told reporters they were calling for a prisoners’ rights agreement to be signed during the eighth round of cross-strait negotiations.

DPP meeting set to start transition

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is set to begin a period of transition today when Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) chairs her first party meeting as interim chairperson and the party tries to regroup following its loss in the presidential election.

The DPP Central Standing Committee meeting, which is expected to focus primarily on the May 27 elections for chairperson and party representatives, is Chen’s first meeting at the helm of the party since taking over from former chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on March 1.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

DPP’s officials line up against ractopamine

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter
Tue, Mar 13, 2012 - Page 1

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday reaffirmed its zero-tolerance policy on the controversial animal feed additive ractopamine with a statement and an amendment proposing that local governments be given more power to regulate food safety.

Mayors and county commissioners of six DPP-governed cities and counties met in Greater Kaohsiung and afterwards issued a joint statement calling for “three actions and four demands,” and asked President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to reconsider lifting the ban on ractopamine residue in beef.

DPP links Ma, Wu to alleged cover-up

FLU-GATE?DPP lawmakers said a recording appeared to be more incriminating than previously thought and they condemned Taipei prosecutors’ lack of action
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and former premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) may have known about a possible cover-up of an H5N2 avian flu outbreak in January, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday as they urged the judiciary to investigate.

Citing more findings from an audio recording of a Feb. 1 meeting of experts held by the Council of Agriculture, a copy of which was made available to them, the lawmakers said council officials appeared to have mentioned Ma and Wu in the meeting.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ma’s approval rating takes a tumble

GRAY AREA:One expert criticized Ma for interpreting the constitutional definition of the role of the president to suit political situations as and when they developed
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) approval rating has plummeted to its lowest level since the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot in 2009 amid recent controversies over US beef and avian flu, a recent poll showed.

Only 26.1 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Ma’s performance, with 62.1 percent disapproving of the president, the survey conducted by Taiwan Brain Trust think tank on Wednesday and Thursday showed.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

DPP seeks probe of Ma over bird flu

CONCEALMENT?The Special Investigation Division was yesterday asked to investigate President Ma Ying-jeou for malfeasance in the matter of alleged cover-ups of bird flu
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus yesterday filed a request with the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division to investigate malfeasance involving high-ranking officials, including the president, in the case of the alleged concealment of a bird-flu outbreak.

DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) told a press conference that her caucus filed the request against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), vice president-elect Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and former Council of Agriculture (COA) minister Chen Wu-hsiung (陳武雄).

DPP officials to discuss alternatives to beef plan

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Mayors and county commissioners of six Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-governed cities and counties are to announce countermeasures to the central government’s planned move to lift a ban on ractopamine, the party said yesterday.

The officials are scheduled to exchange opinions at a meeting and release a joint statement on Monday in Greater Kaohsiung, DPP spokesperson Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) told a press conference yesterday.

The DPP has reiterated its opposition to the government’s planned lifting of a ban on ractopamine and has said that it would “stand on the same side as Taiwanese.”

Sean Chen questioned on handling of US beef issue

MEATY TOPIC:A legislator said a poll showed support for a zero-tolerance stance on ractopamine was bipartisan, with 77.6 percent of respondents in favor of such a law
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

As he was grilled by lawmakers yesterday over his handling and the US’ role in the beef import ban controversy, Premier Sean Chen said he had not reneged on his pledge to the Legislative Yuan regarding ractopamine.

The Executive Yuan’s announcement on Monday regarding the feed additive was to explain “the direction of a planned policy” rather than a predetermined policy, Chen told lawmakers.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Ban on pork with ractopamine to stay: Chen

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporters
Fri, Mar 09, 2012 - Page 1

The government yesterday vowed not to allow pork imports containing the feed additive ractopamine, as Premier Sean Chen said there was no room for compromise on the pork issue for the sake of public health and the “interests of local pig husbandry.”

“I will not change my position on the principle that the permits for importing beef [containing traces of ractopamine] and pork are kept separate,” Chen told a press conference in the afternoon, as thousands of farmers staged a protest.

Women’s rights can improve: DPP

DISPARITIES:Pan Men-an said women in Taiwan work 65 more days in a year than men on average, while earning 17.6 percent less in salary than their male counterparts
By Chris Wang and Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporters

Women’s rights and welfare under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has significant room for improvement, opposition lawmakers said on International Women’s Day yesterday.

“The misery index of Taiwanese women has skyrocketed in the past few years as the current administration has not brought hope on almost every issue they care about,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said.

New stance on beef talks touted

BARGAINING CHIPS:A DPP lawmaker said Taiwan has leverage as it is the US’ 10th-largest trading partner and it is one of the largest importers of US agricultural products
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Taiwan should be able to explore an alternate solution to the dispute over US beef dispute by adopting a different approach to negotiations and using the “art of give and take,” lawmakers said yesterday.

Judging from Taiwan’s total trade volume with the US and the small percentage US beef imports make up in bilateral trade, the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should not take everything the US throws at it, because it has substantial bargaining chips, they said.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Officials deny bird flu cover-up

SMOKESCREEN?:A lawmaker questioned the timing of the announcement of the bird-flu outbreak, saying it could have been a tactic to shift attention from US beef
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter
Thu, Mar 08, 2012 - Page 2

The Council of Agriculture yesterday maintained it did not cover up and defer the notifications of several H5N2 bird-flu outbreaks in the past two years, despite heavy criticism from lawmakers.

Challenged by a number of lawmakers in the legislature’s Economics Committee, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) repeatedly sidestepped questions on whether or not the council reported a highly pathogenic H5N2 avian flu outbreak in 2010 to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as low-risk outbreak.

US BEEF CONTROVERSY: Over 80% oppose Ma’s beef policy: poll

UNPOPULAR:A DPP poll showed that 67.4 percent of respondents do not believe Ma, who says there is no scientific evidence that ractopamine is harmful to humans
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Four out of five people are opposed to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) policy of lifting the ban on the animal feed additive ractopamine, a survey conducted by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) showed.

The opinion poll, conducted on Monday and Tuesday, found 80.9 percent of respondents said they did not support the policy, which would allow imported US beef products containing traces of ractopamine, the DPP told a press conference yesterday.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Officials covered up outbreak of bird flu: activists

By Lee I-chia and Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporters
Wed, Mar 07, 2012 - Page 1

The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) yesterday said it suspected that the Council of Agriculture had concealed cases of avian influenza for more than two years and had lied to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in its reports.

The group said former premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and former Council of Agriculture minister Chen Wu-hsiung (陳武雄) should be held responsible for the cover up.

EAST disclosed two documents from 2010, dated March 1 and March 8, that the council’s Animal Health Research Institute sent to the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine. The documents showed that two technical group meetings held on Feb. 25 and March 5 that year had already received H5N2 Intravenous Pathogenicity Index [IVPI] lab results, which showed readings above 1.2 and 2.41, indicators that the strains were highly pathogenic.

US BEEF CONTROVERSY: Lifting beef ban prompts no-confidence vote threat

POLITICAL POSTURING::Although such a vote would surely be blocked by the majority-holding KMT, some DPP officials said they must use the measure anyway
By Chris Wang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporters
Wed, Mar 07, 2012 - Page 1

Lashing out at an overnight government decision to conditionally lift a ban on beef containing residue of the leanness-enhancing animal feed additive ractopamine, opposition lawmakers yesterday threatened to put the Cabinet to a vote of no-confidence.

In a press release issued late on Monday, the Executive Yuan said it favored conditionally -lifting a ban on US beef products that contain ractopamine.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Su Huan-chi throws hat into contest for DPP’s top position

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Former Tainan County commissioner Su Huan-chih explains his policy platform in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智), the first Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member to declare his candidacy for the election for party chairperson in May, yesterday unveiled his initiative of “a third wave of Taiwan’s democratic movement” to transform the party.

“The DPP will not be able to save Taiwan simply by winning elections, and it will not win the next major election with its election-focused structure,” the former Tainan County commissioner told a press conference.

Prosecutors raid bureau over flu row

CONSPIRACY?:The BAPHIQ denies a cover-up, but an opposition lawmaker said officials might have kept the H5N2 outbreak quiet to help Ma’s re-election hopes
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter
Tue, Mar 06, 2012 - Page 1

Investigators yesterday raided the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) and seized a number of documents as the government continued to field criticism over its handling of a bird flu outbreak.

Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office spokesperson Huang Mo-hsin (黃謀信) said prosecutors questioned several bureau officials regarding the recent outbreak of H5N2 avian influenza.

Huang said the bureau is suspected of covering up the outbreak and prosecutors are trying to determine whether officials might have committed offenses that amount to malfeasance while in office, which carry a prison sentence of between three and 10 years.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Academics warn about China’s media influence

‘SINICIZATION’:Much of the nation’s media is owned by tycoons with large investments in China, resulting in increasingly pro-China reporting and Chinese influence over politics
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Academics warned of a possible “Sinicization” of Taiwanese media at a forum yesterday, saying that civil society appeared to be the last line of defense against fast-growing Chinese influence on local media.

The Chinese influence has been so intimidating that “pro-China media now have complete control of the direction of Taiwan’s national development,” said Chen Yao-hsiang (陳耀祥), an assistant professor at National Taipei University’s Department of Public Administration and Policy.

Chen was among a panel of academics who expressed concern over Taiwan’s media at a forum organized by the Taiwan Association of University Professors (TAUP).

Chen Chu denies wanting to keep chairperson post

‘NON-FACTOR’:A survey on potential candidates for the DPP chair reportedly showed that Chen had high support, but she said that the poll would not affect her decision
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), who doubles as interim chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), yesterday denied she was interested in running in the election for party chair in May as she departed for Japan on a business trip.

Asked if she plans to run for the DPP leadership on Saturday, Chen urged DPP supporters against having “overly high expectations” of a bid.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Chinese buying up Kaohsiung high-end property: lawmaker

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Continuous neglect of regional development has led to the side effect of Chinese buying up high-end property in Greater Kaohsiung, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker said yesterday.

Chinese are taking advantage of falling housing prices in the Greater Kaohsiung area to purchase properties, DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) told a press conference, citing a report in the Chinese-language Wealth Magazine.

DPP happy to talk to China, but with no preconditions

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday that it is willing to push for a closer engagement with Beijing “under the precondition that no political preconditions or barriers are set.”

“Bilateral engagement without political preconditions and barriers would be conducive to the peaceful development of cross-strait relations,” DPP spokesperson Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said.

Former first lady urges medical release for Chen

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

On behalf of her husband, former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) yesterday urged judicial authorities to grant Chen a release from prison for medical treatment.

Wu, who is subject to house arrest during her 17-and-a-half-year prison sentence because of bad health, said she did not rule out organizing a protest against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) if the release were not granted.

DPP criticizes beef inspections

THROUGH THE BACK DOOR:Only 6.5 percent of imported US beef products were inspected last year, with more than 21 percent of the items inspected being rejected
By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday that the government’s preventive measures against US beef imports containing the animal feed additive ractopamine had failed after health officials said no importer had been fined during the past two years.

Citing high rates of US beef products failing inspections at customs and in the marketplace, DPP legislators told a press conference that the “three management and five checkpoint (三管五卡)” measures had been a failure and that they would not be able to guarantee public health if the ban on ractopamine is lifted.