Monday, December 31, 2007

Assignment #14

High school intern teacher hangs self in MRT

A 22-year-old intern teacher at Taipei's First Girls' High School was found dead at a Taipei main station restroom Thursday.

Police said Hsu Pei-hsing, who began an internship last July, hanged herself with her sneaker laces. An MRT station janitor reported the suicide at 7 p.m.

The janitor, whose identity was withheld, told investigators she found nothing wrong when she cleaned the restroom on the third deck of the MRT main station at 6 p.m.

When she was cleaning the same restroom again one hour later, the janitor found one of the bathroom stalls couldn't be opened. When she opened the toilet door, the janitor found Hsu hanging on the pegs for clothing. Her sneakers were left by the side of the toilet bowl.

No suicide note was found, however.

Hsu left a message on her cellphone, investigators said. "Somebody is watching me," the message said, "but I've done nothing against anyone." The message is not yet understood, but Hsu's mother told police her daughter, had no enemies.

"Probably she was under heavy pressure from work," one investigator said. Chow Wen-wei, principal of the girls' high school, said she didn't understand why the intern teacher, who was an alumnus of the school, should commit suicide. "She was well liked by faculty as well as students," Chow said.

1. What do you think was the reason behind this suicide?
2. Why would someone choose a public place like an MRT station to commit suicide?
3. What do you think is causing Taiwan's increasing suicide rate?

For the real article:

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Assignment #13

Ma comment sparks Aboriginal fury

KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou is involved in a controversy over his recent and remarks about the Aborigines of the Amis tribe in Taipei County.

Ma's comments, which several political observers yesterday described as "dumbfounding," were made on Dec. 8 during a campaign platform presentation in Sindian City (新店), Taipei County, when a Sijhou woman pleaded for "President Ma" to prevent the community's relocation.

"If you come into the city, you are a Taipei citizen; I see you as a human being, I see you as a citizen, and I will educate you well," Ma said, adding: "Aborigines should adjust their mentality -- if you come into the city you have to play by its rules."

The incident was exposed when an anonymous source sent video footage of it to Chinese-language Liberty Times on Saturday.

In response to Ma's comments, Sijhou Community Self-Help Association executive director Osay Saoma said that the Sijhou community felt "humiliated."

"The tribe is not happy. Does [he] mean that we were not treated like humans before?" he asked.

More than 200 members of the Sijhou community have resided at their current location at the left bank of the Sindian River for 30 years, but now face relocation since their houses are built on a flood area.

"The Amis people are heroes behind the modern development of cities like Taipei, being migrant workers and helping with its construction," Saoma said. "But now we are being kicked out of our homes in return."

When approached for his response, Ma's campaign spokesman Su Jun-pin yesterday said the media took Ma's remarks out of context and misinterpreted his meaning.

He disputed Saoma's remarks and said Ma had always been well-received in Aboriginal communities.

1. What do you think about Mr. Ma's comments?
2. What do you think about the reaction to his comments?
3. Do you think political candidates pay attention to the needs of the Aboriginal community?

For the real article:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Assignment #12

CLA says it is `infeasible' to cover foreign caregivers

Offering coverage under the Labor Standards Act (勞基法) to foreign caregivers in Taiwan is [not going to work] an official of the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) said on Monday.

The remark came after a protest by several foreign labor human rights groups on Sunday to demand that the government include the 160,000 foreign caregivers working in Taiwan in the labor act.

In response, CLA Deputy Chairwoman Tsao Ai-lan said that unlike foreign factory workers, it is difficult to distinguish a caregivers' working time from their rest time.There would be a lot of disputes if the act were extended to include foreign caregivers, Tsao said.

Tsao also said that foreign caregivers often take care of those who are incapable of moving; so the government cannot require foreign caregivers to take a break after working a certain number of hours.

Meanwhile, she also said that local employers of foreign caregivers should not ask their foreign caregivers to do all of the care work, suggesting the employers to give their foreign employees some days off.

Tsao suggested foreign caregivers negotiate their rights with their employers, noting that if foreign caregivers' rights are infringed upon, they can file a complaint with local labor bureaus.

1. Why does the CLA "suggest" employers give care workers "some days off" rather than make it part of the law?
2. Do you think foreign caregivers should have more labor rights in Taiwan? (they currently have very very little protection)
3. Why are there not more local (Taiwanese) caregivers for elderly people?

For the article, check out:

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Assignment #11

Sudan teacher arrested over teddy bear

A 54 year old British teacher has been arrested in Sudan. She is accused of insulting Islam's prophet by allowing her class to name a teddy bear Mohammed. Gillian Gibbons could face several months in jail if she's convicted of blasphemy under Sudanese law.
Gillian Gibbons' colleagues at Unity High School in the Sudanese capital said they feared for her safety. They said there were reports that young men had already started gathering outside the Khartoum police station where she's being held.
The 54 year old teacher was arrested at her house on Sunday afternoon. State media said she was being charged with blasphemy after allowing her class of 6 and 7 year olds to choose their favourite name for a teddy bear they were using as part of a school project. The pupils voted to call the toy Mohammed.
The school said Miss Gibbons had been following a British educational course designed to teach the children about animals and their habitats. She was taken into custody after complaints to the Ministry of Education.
Unity High School's director, Robert Bulos, insisted that the teacher had made an innocent mistake but he said he was concerned it could have serious consequences. As a result the school has decided to close until January. British Embassy officials in Khartoum are visiting Gillian Gibbons in custody.

1. Why do you think the reaction from the government is so strong?
2. Do you think the teacher was not aware of the possible results?
3. What does this story make you think about?

For the real article, check out the BBC website:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Assignment #10

Most tofu products contain hydrogen peroxide: TSU

A majority of tofu products sold at supermarkets and traditional markets contain hydrogen peroxide, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) claimed yesterday.

TSU spokeswoman Chou Mei-li said yesterday that product testing conducted by the party showed that eight out of 15 tofu products purchased from three of Taipei City's supermarket chains and one traditional market contained hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide is a weak acid that is used for bleaching and as a disinfectant. Reactions to too much hydrogen peroxide include headache, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea, skin eruptions or ulcers.

Hydrogen peroxide is not allowed in foods, but most of the products tested showed positive results.

The three supermarkets covered in the test were RT-Mart, Carrefour and Kuma Supermarket.

Chou said that public health was one of the party's prime concerns and called on the government to come up with a plan to more effectively manage and supervise the quality of locally produced food products.

She said that an examination of tofu products conducted by the Bureau of Health in June found 46 percent contained undesired additives, adding that they continue to be sold in supermarkets.

"This administration has completely ignored the health of consumers and turned a blind eye to enforcement of regulations," Chou said.

1. Why is a political party (the TSU) doing food tests?
2. Do you think this could be a problem with all local-made food, and not just tofu?
3. What should regular people do about this?

For the real article:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Assignment #9

Filipina indicted for murder, US citizen free to go

Kaohsiung prosecutors yesterday indicted Armia Panaglima of the Philippines, the girlfriend of US citizen David Michael Fillion, and asked for the death sentence for the September murder of a Kaohsiung teaching agent.

Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office spokesman Chung Chung-hsiao told reporters that "Because Panaglima cruelly killed a woman who had no animosity toward her, and she showed no regret during the investigation, prosecutors decided to ask the Kaoshiung District Court to sentence Panaglima to death."

Panaglima is charged with robbery and murder, Chung said.

Chung said prosecutors did not find enough to show that Fillion had anything to do with the murder.

He said prosecutors have lifted the ban prohibiting Fillion from leaving the country.

Kaohsiung prosecutors began an investigation into the murder after a woman's body was found in a garbage bag in Kaohsiung on Sept. 15.

Panaglima is suspected of killing 48-year-old Chou Mei-yun on her own and dumping her body in a garbage bag.

Prosecutors said Panaglima met Chou at her residence on Sept. 15. She allegedly wanted Chou to lend her some money but Chou refused.

The suspect is said to have hit Chou in the face and then to have robbed her of her ATM cards, credit cards and cash.

But as Chou refused to reveal the card PIN numbers, Panaglima then allegedly attacked Chou with a kitchen knife and killed her.

Chou was a broker who helped foreigners find teaching jobs at private schools in and around the Kaohsiung area.

1. Have you heard this story before? How did you feel when you read it?

2. Will this story influence how people see foreigners in Taiwan?

3. Do you believe the death penalty should be used?

For the real article:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Assignment #8

Taiwan observes 1111 hiking day

The first 1111 National Hiking Day was observed yesterday, with over 15,000 people walking out of their homes to go hiking in suburb areas of 25 cities and counties around the nation.

Among the people who took part in the activity in Taipei were Yang Jong-her, minister of the Cabinet-level Sports Affairs Council and Chi Cheng, a veteran athlete and Asian Games silver medalist who has been actively promoting jogging and walking for decades.

The opening of the hike in Taipei kicked off at 9 a.m. Yang encouraged members of Taiwan's public to get more exercise, including hiking, which he said is the easiest form of exercise and probably the cheapest as well.

Hou said exercise is the best way of improving one's health and quality of life. He expressed his hope that the Taiwanese people will change their most-used greeting phrase, "Have you eaten yet?" to "Have you exercised yet?"

Chi said that walking 10,000 steps a day is the best health choice for today's busy people.

Around the country, over 1,000 people drawn to hike in a"green tunnel" in Kukeng, Yunlin County. They enjoyed walking in the fresh air over a 5-km route, which included country roads lining with big, old trees creating a "green tunnel," and amid green hilly areas sprawling across the southern agricultural county.

In Kaohsiung, some 10,000 people took part in the hiking activity -- walking around the scenic Cheng Ching Lake Park, which is a wide, sprawling tourist attraction with a hiking trail of about 6.5 km.

1. What do you do for exercise?
2. How can schools and the government promote good diet and exercise?
3. Why is this important enough to be in the news?

For the real article, visit the China Post

Monday, November 5, 2007

Assignment #7

Freeway not the answer for Hualien

WE OFTEN FORGET that the place where we live is "Ilha Formosa" -- the beautiful island. It's only when others remind us that we discover that there are a lot of interesting places to go in Taiwan. Following several foreign media reports on traveling in Taiwan, the National Geographic Traveler Magazine published a 12-page article about it in this month's issue. Such articles always report that Taroko Gorge and the East Coast leave a deep impression on foreign visitors. But on Oct 28, the Chinese-language China Times reported that the Taroko Express is having trouble selling tickets. These news reports reveal several things.

One is that Taiwan has a lot of potential for tourism, but needs more media coverage to promote it globally. Another is that to develop further, the tourist industry still needs to learn the necessary basic skills, such as solving the transportation problem.

The geographical isolation of the East Coast has helped preserve the natural landscape of Hualien and Taitung, making it an important economic foundation. The construction of the Suhua freeway will only quicken the destruction of this landscape.

The tourism industry has eagerly awaited the relaxation of the regulations for Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan. But it has forgotten to develop other foreign tourism. Stories about travel in Taiwan that appear in European and US media prove that there is a lot of unused tourism potential. But if the government wants to attract foreign tourists, there is a lot of fundamental work to be done.

An example is maps: when traveling in some countries, every time one arrives at a place, one can find clear maps of the area. Many of these maps include recommended itineraries, and even three-dimensional pictures of some buildings in the area. Maps in Taiwan, however, often only show roads and road names. For people who can't read Chinese, such maps are difficult to use because their knowledge of the area is based not on street names, but on some characteristic or familiar landmarks, like McDonald's restaurants, gas stations, 7-Elevens, or prominent buildings. Taiwan's tourist maps show that the industry doesn't really understand how to attract foreign tourists.

If Hualien really wants to attract more tourists, building a freeway is not the way. The way to implement sustainable management is to first make sure there is a good foundation for a quality tourism experience

1. What do you think of the proposed Suhua Highway?
2. Which is more important, preserving the environment or promoting the economy?
3. What can Taiwan do to improve its foreign tourism?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Assignment #6

Military's `hug-hug' policy suspended

Minister of National Defense Lee Tien-yu [was criticized] in the legislature yesterday over the military's "hug-hug" policy.

"It was initially thought that the policy would help new recruits feel more comfortable in their new surroundings. However, I also understand that many of them do not like it. So we will cancel the policy immediately," Lee said.

Lee made the remarks during yesterday morning's National Defense Committee at the legislature where the "hug-hug" policy was ridiculed and criticized by legislators.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang said that the policy was written down in black and white.

The "manual" also "teaches" new recruits "how to hug each other closely."

"Here, it says that `when you hug a person, your body shall stick to his or her body closely.' Things like this will only make [new soldiers] tense. It is not going to improve anything," Lin said.

Another KMT Legislator and retired general, Shuai Hua-min, poked fun at the policy and said it would create a bunch of sissies.

"What is this all about? This is the military, not Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain" Shuai said.

Lee explained that the idea actually came from the "give me five" gesture.

"We hope that everybody would treat each other like family," Lee said.

Lin then asked Lee to perform a demonstration "hug" with General Political Warfare Bureau Chief Chen Kuo-hsiang, but Lee refused.

"We are old friends already so we do not need to do that," Lee said.

The minister was then criticized for forcing soldiers to do something that he would not do himself.

Lee promised to suspend the "hug-hug" policy immediately.

1. Do you hug your friends? Your family?
2. Do you think Taiwan's army soldiers should be encouraged to hug each other?
3. Why do you think this policy was started?

Real article:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Assignment #5

Students protest `invasion of privacy'

The new student ID card is an invasion of privacy and should be banned from all high schools, a group of student activists said yesterday in Taipei. This started a campaign to protest the mandatory use of the radio frequency identification student cards required by Taipei City's Bureau of Education.

"The system is useless except to keep students under strict surveillance like convicts or animals," said Wang Hao-zheng.

Last month, the bureau began asking all high schools in the city to replace their traditional student ID cards with the new RFID system. A simple swipe of the RFID card can record a student's attendance as well as his or her spending habits. For a fee, the system can even send text messages to alert parents if their child is absent or tardy.

Parents and teachers can also download the student's recent activities, including what they bought at the cafeteria and what time they arrive at school.

The idea, the bureau said, was to reduce student's burden of having to carry a variety cards since the new card can be used as a library card, electronic wallet and a metro card.

Rebecca Lee said the new system, which cost NT$50 million to set up, is an extravagant waste of money. The money could be better spent elsewhere, such as on classroom lighting, rather than on a "useless system," she said.

A recent high school graduate surnamed Teng complained the system often makes mistakes and that he had received demerits for being tardy or absent even though he had been on time and was in class. Sometimes he ran late to class because he had to wait in line to swipe the card as there are not enough machines at the school. The new card is also more expensive than the old student ID, he said.


1. What do you think about this new system?

2. Would you want a similar card at your school?

3. What do you think is the real reason for the card?

The real article:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Assignment #4

Taiwanese supportive as Wang falters in playoffs

The nation's baseball fans were all frowns yesterday after a second straight disastrous performance by national hero Wang Chien-Ming.

The starting ace was chased from the do-or-die game against the Cleveland Indians after just three outs -- when he had already [allowed] the Indians to a 4-0 lead. They won 6-4 to bring New York's season to an end.

"I think Wang faltered today because he was under enormous pressure and he probably didn't have enough rest after a three-day break," said Richard Lin of the Chinese Taipei Amateur Baseball Association.

"There is no more hope for the Yankees," one fan wrote in an online forum, calling for Wang to quit the Major Leagues and return to pro baseball back in his homeland. "Let's welcome Wang home and give him a hug."

Yesterday's outing was the shortest start of Wang's US career.

"I feel so sad for Wang but I hope he can learn from his failures and better cope with pressure to become a great pitcher," another fan said in the online forum.

Despite his performance, some fans had encouraging words for the 27-year-old.

"You will always be the glory of Taiwan no matter how poorly you played this time," one of his online supporters wrote. "You just have to play harder next year."

1. What do you think of Wang Chien-Ming?
2. Is Wang's performance important to Taiwan?
3. Do you think he is a hero? What makes a hero?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Assignment #3

Nations urge Myanmar to end crackdown

Many of you may have heard that recently there have been massive protest in Myanmar. There are many causes for these protests, but one of the man causes is the recent dramatic rise in gasoline and food prices. The majority of people in the country live in poverty, and their lives have become much more difficult recently.

The military rulers of the country at first allowed the protest, but last week violently put down the protests. Many buddist monks who were leading the protests have been beaten up, arrested, and some have even been killed. Many other protesters have been killed or injured.

Yesterday, Myanmar's main economic partners, China and Japan, joined the UN in asking Myanmar to stop the violence.

Japan was influenced by the death of a Japanese citizen. Myanmar soldiers shot into a crowd of unarmed people and killed at least nine people, one of whom was a Japanese citizen. Up until this point, Japan had been one of Myanmar's biggest supporters.

The military government has not allowed any foreign journalists into the country, and they have also cut phone and internet connection lines.

The U.N. has promised to increase efforts to talk to the government of Myanmar, and try to persuade Myanmar to end the crackdown. They have also asked all countries in the world to help in this effort.

1. What do you think the UN should do about the crisis in Myanmar?
2. Should other countries become involved in a country's domestic politics?
3. What can individuals to help with the situation?

For the real article:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Next Week

Dear class,
Due to my injury, I have not been able to post a new article. I will post one soon that you can respond to for next week. Sorry for the inconvenience. See you in class on Friday.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Assignment #2

DPP, KMT rally for UN referendums

This weekend in Taiwan, both the DPP and the KMT gathered people in central and southern Taiwan in support of Taiwan's bid to enter the UN. The DPP and the KMT both have different plans for entering the UN.
The DPP's plan is for Taiwan to unter the UN under the name "Taiwan". If their plan succeeds, voters will choose whether to do this or not.
The KMT's plan is for Taiwan to "return" to the UN under the name of "Republic of China" or "ROC", which is the name Taiwan used from 1945 until 1971.
This weekend in Kaohsiung, DPP supporters gather to show their support for the plan. President Chen Shui-bian, and presidential hopeful Frank Hsieh were both there, along with other DPP party members.
At the same time in Taichung, the KMT, led by presidential hopeful Ma Ying-Jeou, also gathered supporters for a rally of their own. Their idea is that they must improve the lives of Taiwanese people before trying to enter the UN. They wore blue flip flops as a symbol of this.
Question: What do you think about Taiwan entering the UN? Do you think that it will be a good idea even if it makes China or the U.S. mad? What name should Taiwan use if it enters the UN?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Assignment #1

Taipei, Beijing still working on Olympic torch path agreement

The Taiwanese and Chinese governments have not yet come to an agreement about whether or not Taiwan will be part of the Olympic Torch Relay for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. There have been several meetings recently between officials from both Olympic committees, but no progress has been made.
Taiwan has long objected to the route of the torch, because China maintains that it is part of the "domestic route". Plans are for the torch to come to Taiwan from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, before going to Hong Kong. There has also been some disagreement about what Taiwan will be called during the Olympics. China prefers "China, Taiwan" while Taiwan wants "Chinese Taipei."
There is much disagreement in Taiwan as to whether or not the torch should come to Taiwan. Many hope that the torch will help advertise Taipei and Taiwan, but many also fear that it could be used as a political trick by China.
Question: What do you think about Taiwan's participation in the Olympic games? What name should Taiwan use? Should the Olympic torch come to Taiwan? Answer these quesitons and give your comments.

For the real article, check out: