Digital TV switchover begins
The National Communications Commission began its nationwide switchover to digital television yesterday by shutting down analogue television signals in Greater Taichung’s Dajia District (大甲). National Communications Commission Chairperson Su Herng (蘇蘅) announced that Dajia, known for housing one of the oldest Matsu (Goddess of the Sea) temples in the nation, had become the first district in the country to completely switch to digital TV. A ceremony was held at Greater Taichung City Hall to mark the landmark switchover, as well as the beginning of the larger nationwide analogue-to-digital conversion. According to the commission, all analogue television signals will be turned off by June 30 next year, ushering in a new era of digital TV. Su said TV users in Dajia would now be able to watch television shows on 16 high-definition channels free of charge.
Japanese survivors arrive
A group of victims from Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami arrived in Taiwan yesterday at the invitation of a program designed to help them recover. The program, which runs from the end of this month until mid-November, provides free round-trip airfare and accommodation to 1,000 quake victims for a two-week stay in Taiwan, Tourism Bureau officials said. The group of visitors, the first of a series, will also receive free EasyCards for use on public transport, tickets to the National Place Museum and a one-day trip to areas in central Taiwan struck by the 921 Earthquake. Meanwhile, a delegation led by Toshio Yoshimura, secretary-general of the Democratic Party in Fukuoka Prefecture, also arrived in Taiwan yesterday.
Sex crime database released
The Judicial Yuan yesterday introduced a database on sexual crime sentences in a hope that it can serve as a reference for judges when they sentence sex offenders. Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lin Ching-fang (林錦芳) told a press conference yesterday that the system could also help to reduce discrepancies between sex crime verdicts. The database contains more than 5,000 sexual crime rulings handed out from 2007 to last year, Lin said. The move came in the wake of criticism of the nation’s judges, after individuals convicted of sexually abusing children received what were widely considered to be excessively light sentences.
Government to seal wells
The government will spend about US$1.8 billion to seal nearly 1,000 wells over the next 10 years to save the high-speed rail system, which has been threatened by subsidence, an official at the Public Construction Commission said yesterday. The project would significantly reduce the rate of subsidence along a stretch of the rail in central Taiwan because of excessive ground water drainage, the official said. The 345km system using Japanese bullet-train technology is billed as one of the nation’s largest privately funded transport projects, with an estimated cost of US$15 billion. However, Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corp incurred about US$2 billion in losses, or roughly two-thirds of its capitalization, three years after the system went into operation in 2007. Last year, the company secured new funding of US$12 billion as part of efforts to pay off earlier loans.
No case against Su Chih-fen
The Yunlin District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday said it had decided not to indict Yunlin County Commissioner Su Chih-fen (蘇治芬) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) amid allegations she had embezzled public funds designated for a local religious festival. Wu Wei-chih (吳威志), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate in the Yunlin County commissioner election in 2009, filed a lawsuit against Su during the campaign. Wu said Su, as the head of the Yunlin County Government, had spent NT$60 million (US$2 million) to hold the “2008 Good God Festival” (好神節) and alleged that she used this as an opportunity to solicit NT$50 million from Formosa Petrochemical Corp, which has a plant in the county’s Mailiao Township (麥寮). Wu alleged that Su pocketed some of the money through a local cultural foundation. The district prosecutors’ office closed the case yesterday, citing insufficient evidence.