Tsai Pays Respects to King of “Tailand”
President Tsai visited the representative offices of the Kingdom of Thailand on October 17 to pay her respects following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away October 13. During her visit, where Thai officials displayed photos of the king meeting with the late Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Tsai wrote a note in a book of condolence messages, but apparently spelled Thailand without the “h.” The gaffe was immediately seized upon by the KMT’s party spokesman, Alex Tsai, who admonished the president to take more English language lessons. The Presidential Office also denied rumors that Tsai would attend the state funeral of the Thai monarch.
Work-Week Proposals Spur Controversy
Labor unions and sympathizers engaged in a series of protests against what they claim is the president’s and legislature’s “black box” approach to reforming work-week laws. Amendments to the Labor Standards Act, which passed through the Legislative Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee on October 5 over KMT opposition, mandate one day off every week and another “flexible” day off, for which employees must be paid overtime if they work. Protesters were angered that although the amendments provide for more generous overtime compensation, they likewise will reduce the number of public holidays from the current 19 to 12. The protesters insist that the law should set a minimum of 123 days off a year (including weekends), which would mean restoring the seven national holidays. Their demands include sending the bill back to committee for further review.
Captive Fisherman Finally Released
Five years after being seized by Somali pirates, a Taiwanese fisherman was finally released and reunited with his family. Shen Jui-chang had been held by Somali pirates since March 2012 when they captured the Omani-flagged fishing vessel Naham 3, on which he was chief engineer. The captain of the vessel was killed during the hijacking and two other crew members died during captivity, but the remaining 26 were finally released after extensive negotiations and ransom payments. Former KMT legislator Tsai Cheng-yuan was instrumental in raising funds to ransom the captive fisherman. The released crew members were flown to Guangzhou, China, where Shen was reunited with his family.