This Week in Taiwan 0726-0801

July 29: The Ministry of Culture commissioned the Public Television Service (PTS) to set up an international multimedia platform, triggering controversy over the government interfering PTS operations. The Ministry of Culture announced that it would terminate its four-year NT$5.8 billion (about US$197 million) tender and seek alternative options. 


July 29: The new eID (national identity card) was originally scheduled to be issued this October, but the Ministry of the Interior postponed renewal due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Many experts from the data security and legal profession as well as the Taiwan Association for Human Rights have opposed the new eID because there is yet a special law to protect individual privacy and may involve constitutionality concerns. Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang stated that he plans to raise the issue of setting up a body to protect individual data privacy. 


July 30: The Taipei District Prosecutors Office investigated the case of Chang Kang-wei, chairman of Far Eastern Air Transport, and nine others for illegally depleting the company's assets. Three involved were First Bank Chairman Jason Liao, Land Bank of Taiwan Chairman Huang Po-tsuan, and Taiwan Cooperative Bank General Manager Chen Shih-ching. This is the first instance where a president or general manager of a Taiwanese publicly-held bank has been indicted.


July 31: In the Kaohsiung City Council speaker by-election, the Kuomintang's Zeng Li-yan won by 35 votes, securing the KMT's advantage in the city council. In June, the KMT had lost the mayoral recall vote, and the city council speaker had committed suicide. The speaker by-election on July 31 was viewed as a critical battle for KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang. The Kaohsiung City Council currently has 65 members. The KMT's Zheng Li-yan received 35 votes to become speaker, with support from independent councilors. Her DPP opponent Councilor Jhang Sheng-fu received 27 votes. 


August 1: A collective bribery case broke out among current and former legislators. The Taipei District Prosecutors Office searched 65 locations including the Legislative Yuan and various residences and interviewed 63 people. 

After investigation, the prosecution detained four incumbent and one former legislators: the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching, the KMT's Legislator Liao Kuo-tung and Legislator Chen Chao-ming, indepedent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu, and the New Power Party's Chairman and former Legislator Hsu Yung-ming. Former Legislator Mark Chen was released on a NT$500,000 (about US$17,000) bail. 

The aforementioned legislators received a total of about NT$40 million (about US$1.3 million) in bribes to pressure the Ministry of Economic Affairs in order to amend the Company Act and help the fight over control of the SOGO department store chain, as well as alter the land classification within Yang Ming Shan National Park to the benefit of funeral service firms. 

Su Jia-chyuan, the uncle of Legislator Su Chen-ching, resigned from the post of secretary-general to the president on August 2. 


August 2: Since July, there has been a spike in the number of additional coronavirus cases, a total of 26, including 15 from the Philippines plus a confirmed case of a Belgian wind power engineer. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung stated that Taiwan's border control will not be relaxed in the short term and announced that people must wear masks on elevators, exam preparatory schools, cinemas, study centers, karaoke studios, and other closed spaces.


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