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January, 3, 2017

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Waking up to a new workweek
By Kuan-lin Liu, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Upset reactions to the "one fixed day off, one flexible day off" policy have flooded local and social media, with business owners complaining that the new holiday regulations have forced them to hike prices.

The policy, which came into force on Dec. 23, guarantees workers one flexible day off and one fixed day off a week, with employees paid double to triple their regular salary if they choose to work on a flexible day off.

Businesses React

But businesses have said that they would pass on the rise in costs associated with the new policy to consumers, with a spate of retailers announcing price hikes.

Fried dumpling chain 8 Way (八方雲集) said it would raise prices by an average of 10 percent starting Jan. 1.

8 Way spokesman Hung Wen-bing (洪文彬) told local media the firm had "never raised its prices due to cost increases since its founding in 1998." But the burden of the new policy had compelled what he called a "reaction to the pressures of increasing costs."

Fellow food retailer Formosa Chang (鬍鬚張) also announced it would raise prices on 13 menu items.

Businesses across a diverse range of sectors — including those in hospitality, transportation, health care and manufacturing — are facing cost increases, according to the Central News Agency (CNA).

While some have chosen to raise prices, others have resolved to cut back on business hours.

Hospitals and medical clinics have raised registration fees by NT$30 to NT$50, while the number of health care providers choosing to stay open on weekends has also declined, according to local reports.

The changes in holiday compensation are also set to hit the island's ubiquitous 24-hour convenience stores.

According to local media, convenience stores owners have said they may decide to cut down on opening hours, "especially those (stores) that have already experienced bad sales during the holidays."

An unnamed convenience store owner told CNA that on some low-performing days, the cost of paying staff to work on a flexible day could see stores run at a loss.

Chen Jui-hung (陳瑞宏), vice president of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, called the increase in staff costs "outrageous."

He said that if left unable to hire more employees, small and medium-sized business owners "may choose to quit their businesses."

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Look around — we're in post-truth Taiwan
The China Post news staff

When Oxford Dictionaries announced its pick of"post-truth" as the 2016 Word of the Year, they defined it as an adjective that means "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief." The word is mostly used to refer to the politics of Western democracies, in which talking points are repeated in campaign even after they are found to be untrue by the mainstream media and/or experts. Post-truth is also used to describe a situation in which fake news spread via social media gains an outsize importance in shaping public opinions. Both cases point to the public being misled by untrue statements or news.

Recent events in Taiwan highlight yet another aspect of a post-truth society, in which facts are simply considered irrelevant. On Jan. 1, award-winning writer Chen Hsuan-ju (陳宣儒) admitted that she had invented for herself an identity as a descendant of Japanese settlers in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial era. Chen won fame for the non-fiction "Wansei Back Home" (灣生回家), a compilation of personal stories of Japanese settlers in Taiwan and their descendants. The book, which won a Golden Tripod Award in 2015, was written around the same time a documentary of the same name — which Chen produced — was made.

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Trump, feral cats on show at US' oldest folk parade
By Natalie Pompilio, AP

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia's annual Mummers Parade quieted critics who raised concerns about racially or culturally insensitive displays in previous years, with marchers putting on a family friendly New Year's Day show that still entertained spectators crowded along the milelong route.

The city has hosted the Mummers Parade since 1901, making it the oldest continuous folk parade in the country, with string bands, comic brigades, elaborate floats and plenty of feathers and sequins. More than 10,000 marchers — divided into more than 40 clubs — work year-round creating elaborate costumes and props and practicing skits and music.

But the festivities had been marred in recent years. Last year, one skit mocked transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner, another featured participants who painted their faces brown or dressed as tacos to portray Mexicans and a marcher was seen on video shouting expletives about gays.

In response, Philadelphia's Commission on Human Relations coordinated a sensitivity training program — held in bars and community centers throughout the city — for Mummers that included talks about the differences between appropriate and offensive satire. Participation was voluntary.

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Bilingual News
〈2017跨年〉人潮即錢潮 超商雙雄信義區重點門市備戰
The China Post news staff , 記者王莞甯/鉅亨網

根據網路市調,跨年夜民眾最愛外出參與跨年晚會和欣賞煙火秀,人潮就是錢潮,超商雙雄特定門市備貨量大增,統一超 (2912-TW) 表示,7-ELEVEN 針對熱門景點周邊超過 150 家門市進行備戰,相關商品平均增 2-3 背;全家 (5903-TW) 則在信義區周邊店舖增加 10 倍人力。

  統一超指出,7-ELEVEN 掌握全台跨年熱門景點,包括各縣市政府、台北美麗華、南投清境農場、高雄夢時代、高雄義大世界等周邊超過 150 家門市皆備戰,其中,101 周邊含信義區、松山區近 40 家 7-ELEVEN 門市預估將湧入大量人潮。

  因此,針對熱門的跨年商品結構如關東煮、蒸煮玉米、CITY CAFE、御飯糰、三明治、罐裝飲品、包裝零食、巧克力、iseLect 隨手包、保暖隨身用品、口罩、濕紙巾、娛樂用品 (如撲克牌、骰子)、能量飲和保健食品等,相關商品備貨量增加 2-3 倍。

  全家指出,為因應這波人潮,信義區周邊店舖增加 10 倍人力,並增設收銀機、夯番薯機、咖啡機、關東煮機等熟食機台,尤其夯番薯、甜玉米及零食餅乾備貨逾 10 倍,關東煮、水與飲料備貨更多達 20 倍。

  全家說明,去 (2015) 年跨年夜單日,Fami 霜淇淋銷售成長近 7 倍,美式咖啡成長超過 4 倍、關東煮和點心零食成長 2 倍以上,口香糖、糖果也有 3 成以上亮眼表現,推測是跨年結伴效應湧現,帶動相關商品業績成長。

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