Taiwan Life in Brief – February 2019

STILL UNRESOLVED — Kuan Chung-ming has now been installed as National Taiwan University president but faces new accusations by the Control Yuan. Photo: AP

Another Chapter in NTU Presidency Saga

It appeared in December that the prolonged standoff between National Taiwan University and the Ministry of Education over the NTU faculty’s election of economist Kuan Chung-ming as university president had finally been resolved. Education Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong, who was moved over from the Interior Ministry specifically to bring the controversy to a conclusion, announced that Kuan would be allowed to take office, despite flaws in the election process. Within days, however, the Control Yuan disclosed plans to impeach Kuan for allegedly taking income for freelance writing without authorization while serving in previous government posts. A final determination is pending by the Judicial Yuan’s Public Functionary Disciplinary Commission.

Amid heavy public criticism, Yeh resigned, saying he had completed his mission. He was succeeded by Pan Wen-chung, returning to a position he left in April 2018. Pan said the Ministry of Education would prepare new rules governing the election of university presidents and hoped to unveil the plan within the next half year.

Clampdown on Bringing in Pork Products

In an effort to prevent Taiwan’s pig farms from being affected by the African swine fever that has hit China, steep penalties have been imposed on visitors violating the prohibition on bringing pork or other meat products through customs.

As of press time, three tourists from China had been denied entry at the airport after they were found to be carrying processed pork products but were unable to pay the increased fine of NT$200,000 (US$6,490). Three other Chinese visitors have been allowed in after paying the fine. Concern about the spread of African swine fever has increased in recent weeks after several contaminated pig carcasses were found to have floated from China to islands in the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen archipelago off the mainland Chinese coast.

As another control measure, the Council of Agriculture tightened disinfection procedures before restaurant or household scraps can be used for pig feed. The highly contagious African swine flu virus can survive for months in processed foods. Although it poses no threat to humans, it is lethal to pigs.

Scramble to Find Missing Vietnamese Tourists

Shortly after arriving in Taiwan on December 21 and 23 as members of tour groups, 152 Vietnamese went missing, sending law enforcement authorities on an island-wide manhunt to track them down. By late January nearly all of them had been found and arrested. Charges were being brought against three people of engaging in human trafficking under the cover of a Vietnamese travel agency that advertised work opportunities in Taiwan over the internet.