Thursday, April 30, 2009

Taiwan Joins World Health Assembly (WHA)

Taiwan has been invited to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA) this year as an observer (no voting rights) using the name "Chinese Taipei." This could be viewed as a victory as the WHA has failed to allow Taiwan to participate, even using a different moniker, for the past 12 years. President Ma Ying-jeou's flexible, moderate pragmatism and warming ties with Mainland China could be credited for the long-awaited invitation. Critics, however, fear that Taiwan has "downgraded" it's international status by not using the name "Taiwan" or "Republic of China." President Ma today contended that "Taiwan will enjoy the same rights and will have the same obligations as other WHA observers," and noted that the island is called “Chinese Taipei” in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and joined the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) in 1991 also using that name.

"This shows that harmonious and amiable cross-strait relations complement rather than conflict with Taiwan's goal of international participation," President Ma explained.

Taiwan's membership in the WHA should help the island establish closer ties with member nations "at a time when the world is facing a possible swine flu outbreak...and improve its preparations for emergencies." The health and safety of Taiwanese citizens "should not involve any unnecessary confrontation to highlight some specific ideology," the president reasoned.

More information is available here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Taipei to Fine Public Park Smokers

In a bid to reduce pollution and increase public health, twenty-four Taipei parks have been designated "smoke free" zones since 2007 and violators will receive fines starting Saturday, July 11, 2009. People caught lighting up may be fined between NT $2000 (approximately US $60.00) to NT $10000 (approximately US $300.00). The new measure comes as a result of a four-year poll taken between 2004 and 2008 on attitudes towards public park "smoke free" zones. The news was announced here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Updates

The rides at Taipei Municipal Children’s Recreation Center (兒童育樂中心) are closed for approximately a year and a half and are slated to reopen September, 2010. If you were planning to take the kids it's a good idea to make other arrangements.

For those that prefer to dance daringly together rather than cuddle with a comic book, popular Taipei nightclub "Mint" is now "Spark 101." The club's address and phone number remain unchanged: Shifu Road, #45, B1 (台北市信義區市府路45號B1樓) (02) 8101-8662.

Plush at the Core Pacific Mall has closed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chung Tai Chan Monastery (中台禪寺)

Q: Scott, aside from Fo Guang Shan in the south, are there any monestaries near Taichung worth visiting?

A: Chung Tai Chan Monastery (中台禪寺) is the second-largest Buddhist monestary on Taiwan, it was completed in 2001 and draws tourists from around the world due to its avant-guard, ultra-modern architectural style. According to the temple's website, this marvelous monastery was built by "Grand Master Wei Chuan" to create a space for disciples' "spiritual cultivation and refuge." When lit up at night the monestary appears more like a grand 5-star hotel than a placid place of worship.

The monastery is located in Puli, Nantou County, so if you're interested in religious life and plan to be in central Taiwan you may want to set aside a few hours for a visit.

More information is available here.