Taiwan Life in Brief – August 2019

EVA Air flight attendants in a sit-down demonstration as part of their strike. Photo: Martti Chen

EVA Air Strike Causes Heavy Losses

The 17-day strike by EVA Air flight attendants that began on June 20 caused the airline nearly US$1 billion in losses. The strike caused some 1,400 flights to be canceled, affecting over 200,000 passengers. The strikers demanded higher wages, EVA agreement to a “no-free ride” policy that would exclude non-striking flight attendants from any wage gains won by the union, and a seat on EVA’s executive board for a flight attendant representative. In part, the EVA flight attendants were inspired by the China Airlines strike three years ago in which the union’s demands were all met.

The strike ended when the union agreed to accept higher daily bonuses from EVA instead of the increased hourly wages they had originally bargained for. The union also failed to win a seat on EVA’s board.

Han to Head KMT Presidential Ticket

Han Kuo-yu, the new mayor of Kaohsiung, is already running for another position – President. Photo: Eason Lam

The Kuomintang (KMT) announced July 14 that Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu had won the primary election to be party’s nominee in the balloting for President to take place January 11.

The primary was conducted through telephone surveys of over 15,000 people. Participants were asked to rate each of the five candidates against incumbent President Tsai Ing-Wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and against one another.

Han won the nomination with 45% of the vote, compared to 28% for billionaire businessman Terry Gou. New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu was third with 17.9%. Gou resigned as chairman of giant electronics company Foxconn last April in order to focus on his campaign.

Han is considered to be more willing than President Tsai to try to improve relations with China. He has been criticized for accepting support from “Red Media” – outlets that are sympathetic to Beijing. But following the protests over extradition in Hong Kong, Han stated that he would accept unification with China “over my dead body.”

Han’s platform is primarily focused on closing the infrastructure gap between North and South Taiwan, as well as minimizing the wealth gap between these regions. He has encountered criticism in Kaohsiung for running for president so soon after being elected mayor of the southern city last November. Early polls give incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen a marginal lead.

Smuggling Case Costs Security Chief His Job

Taiwan’s intelligence chief, Peng Sheng-chu, resigned when two of his agents were caught attempting to smuggle over US$200,000 worth of cigarettes into Taiwan in connection with President Tsai’s diplomatic tour to the Caribbean. The agents, who were assigned to the President’s security detail for the trip, conducted the scam by purchasing some 9,800 cartons of cigarettes online in Taiwan, then storing them in a warehouse at the airport before attempting to circumvent customs inspection by using the VIP lane at Taoyuan Airport when re-entering the country. President Tsai was described as “shocked and angered” about the scandal.

Peng, a retired air force general, had been Director-General of Taiwan’s National Security Bureau since 2016. He will be succeeded by Minister of Veterans Affairs Chiu Kuo-cheng, also a former general.