Electriciy act amendments pass
The Legislative Yuan in January passed revisions to the Electricity Act liberalizing the power market and mandating the cessation of nuclear power. The amendments stipulate that all nuclear power will cease operation by 2025 and that state-owned monopoly power provider Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) will be transformed within six to nine years into a holding company with separate subsidiaries responsible for power generation and for power transmission and distribution. The reorganization is generally seen as a first step toward the utility’s privatization. The amendments also encourage the development of renewable energy by providing preferential pricing. They also allow customers to purchase power directly from renewable energy operators and exempt the renewable energy operators from reserve margin requirements. The Bureau of Energy says that as many as 30 new bylaws and regulations must be devised before the amendments can be implemented, which will likely happen within three to six months.
Outcry over student parade in Nazi costumes
A high school principal resigned amid controversy over a Nazi-themed parade staged by students. Students at the private Kuang-Fu High School in Hsinchu City decided to adopt Adolf Hitler as the theme for the school’s annual Christmas and Thanksgiving Costume Parade held on December 25, and despite the misgivings of the school administration were permitted to wear Nazi costumes, carry swastika banners, and pose with a cardboard tank. When photos of the parade were shared on social media, it ignited a firestorm of criticism, with many lamenting the lack of cultural sensitivity and historical awareness by both students and teachers. The incident caused both the German and Israeli trade representative offices to issue statements of protest. Principal Cheng Hsiao-ming resigned to take “full responsibility” and requested that society not judge the students harshly for the failings of their educators. In previous similar incidences over the years, Nazi references in advertising and a concentration-camp theme restaurant have sparked controversy.
Taiwan Triads threaten HK Umbrella Activists
Suspected members of Taiwan’s notorious Four Seas gang attacked visiting Hong Kong activists on their arrival at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on January 7 to attend two political forums in Taipei. Joshua Wong, a leader of the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement, along with legislators Eddie Chu, Edward Yiu, and Nathan Law, who support self-determination for the territory, were met at the airport by around 200 protesters from the pro-Beijing Patriots Association. Although the visitors were escorted by over 100 uniformed and plainclothes police, several men wearing black clothing and masks attempted to break through the police cordon to assault them. The Hong Kong activists were shaken up but unharmed during the incident, but later said they were continuously harassed by pro-Beijing protesters during their stay. The police arrested 13 people at the airport in relation to the incident, including Four Seas gangster Chen Tzu-chun. The activists, who praised the Taiwan police for their speedy response, were also assaulted on their return to Hong Kong on January 9 by gangsters allegedly affiliated with China.