Taiwan President to visit Pacific Islands

President Tsai Ing-wen is leading a delegation to visit three of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the Pacific: Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and Solomon Islands. The delegation departs Taipei today, will make a stop in Honolulu, and will return on November 4 with a stop in Guam. China Airlines is selected to handle the delegation this time.

President Tsai is expected to meet with the head of state of each country and deliver a speech each at the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands parliaments. She is also expected to meet with the Taiwanese community in Honolulu and visit aid projects sponsored by Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) in the three countries. The ROC first established diplomatic relations with Tuvalu in 1979, with Solomon Islands in 1983, and with Marshall Islands in 1998. Other allies in the region include Kiribati, Nauru, and Palau.

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Mayor of Tainan appointed new premier

Following the resignation of Taiwanese Premier Lin Chuan 林全 and his cabinet yesterday, President Tsai Ing-wen today appointed Tainan Mayor William Lai 賴清德 as premier, leading the executive branch of Taiwan’s central government. The cabinet reshuffling is widely seen as a move to reverse Tsai’s low approval ratings to prepare for the 2018 local elections. Former premier Lin has not held any elected offices.

Lai, 57 and a doctor by profession, received a BS from National Taiwan University in Taipei and MD from National Cheng Kung University in Tainan. He subsequently studied at Harvard University and was awarded a Master of Public Health degree. He was elected to the National Assembly in 1996 and four times elected to the Legislative Yuan in 1998, 2001, 2004, and 2008, all representing the Democratic Progressive Party in then-Tainan City. After then-Tainan City and Tainan County were merged into a single municipality, Lai won the 2010 mayoral election and was re-elected in 2014 with ~73% of the votes.

Indigenous territories in Taiwan

Despite President Tsai Ing-wen’s apology to the indigenous peoples in August last year, indigenous rights still have a long way to go in Taiwan. In February this year, the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) started drafting regulations on defining traditional indigenous territories. These territories expand from current indigenous reserved territories, and are meant to include territories occupied by tribes before foreign invasions.

As most of Taiwan’s current population resides on the western side of the island, the current discussion is only on the 16 government-recognized tribes, who mostly reside on the eastern part of the island and in the Central Mountain Range. Surveys conducted by the CIP during 2002-2007 suggested that traditional indigenous territories are about 180 hectares, or ~50% of Taiwan. The draft CIP created this year, however, only included 80 hectares, as it excluded private properties and land owned by the government and its agencies, most of which were obtained through force and deceit in the last century.   Continue reading “Indigenous territories in Taiwan”

Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage

After hearing oral arguments on the case concerning same-sex marriage brought by activist Chi Chia-wei and Taipei City Government two months ago, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court today ruled that the marriage chapter of the Civil Code, which states marriage as between “the male and the female parties,” to be unconstitutional. (Read the Court’s English press release.)

In its Interpretation 748, the Court contends that Part IV Chapter II of the Civil Code on marriage violates ROC Constitution Article 22, protecting people the freedom of marriage, and Article 7, stating all ROC citizens to be equal. The Court rules that relevant authorities must amend or enact laws within two years to protect the right of marriage for same-sex couples. However, the Court did not specify whether the parliament should amend the Civil Code, add additional articles allowing same-sex marriage, or to create a separate law allowing same-sex civil union. Continue reading “Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage”

Former VP elected KMT chairman, same downward spiral?

152824eb-526d-4a94-a042-f58dd33bd176After losing both the presidency and, for the first time, control of parliament in the 2016 elections, the century-old Kuomintang today elected former Taiwan Vice-President Wu Den-yih 吳敦義 as its new chairperson. Of the 476,147 eligible party members, 58% voted, 52.2% (144k) of which voted for Wu, just past the 50% that would otherwise have triggered a runoff election between Wu and incumbent chairperson Hung Hsiu-chu, who received the second most votes (19.2%). The six candidates include Wu, Hung, former Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-pin, former health minister Steven Chan, former MP Han Kuo-yu, and former MP Tina Pan. Continue reading “Former VP elected KMT chairman, same downward spiral?”

Taiwan to further revise SE and South Asia visa policy

To further attract visitors from Southeast and South Asia and in continuation to its visa policy from last year, visa-free travel for citizens of Brunei and Thailand will be extended to July 31, 2018. Citizens of the Philippines will be able to travel to Taiwan without applying for a visa starting June 1, 2017 in an one-year pilot program. Citizens of Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam who have received a Taiwan visa (excluding the foreign worker visa) will be eligible to apply online for a multiple-entry permit. Citizens of Bhutan and Sri Lanka will be eligible for tourist visa. Business travelers from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka will be able to apply for the eVisa with recommendation from the local office of Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA).

For more information, contact Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bureau of Consular Affairs or the nearest Taiwan embassy/consulate/representative office.