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Premier: Crime down in Taiwan

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Premier Sean Chen said today that overall crime is down in Taiwan, citing statistics from the first seven months of 2012. He thanked various government agencies for their hard work in maintaining law and order.

The premier made the above remarks at an Executive Yuan meeting on public order at which reports were presented by the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, Ministry of the Interior (MOI), Ministry of Education (MOE) and Coast Guard Administration (CGA).

After hearing the MOI's briefing on the status of crime in the nation, Premier Chen pointed out that overall offenses—from theft and fraud to violent crime—have dropped considerably even though crime rates generally peak in summer months. This demonstrates that the government's law enforcement programs have been effective, he said. The premier encouraged the MOI, Ministry of Justice (MOJ), other agencies and local governments to continue the good work.

The MOI also reported that authorities made a major drug bust on August 19, seizing 80 kilograms of heroin from Cambodia aboard a fishing vessel. Valued at over NT$1 billion (US$33 million), the 205 heroin bricks would have been used by 7 million people, the MOJ's Investigation Bureau estimated. Astonished by the scale of potential harm, the premier commended police investigators and the coast guard for breaking the case and asked the MOI's National Police Agency (NPA) to redouble efforts in cracking down on drug trafficking.

As for young people, statistics revealed a rise in the number of underage participants involved in organized crime and of students in drug-related cases. Ministries and agencies were instructed to pay particular attention to this trend and to strengthen programs on youth crime prevention.

After hearing the MOE's report on school safety, the premier applauded their efforts to prevent drug use, stop bullying and deter gang recruitment of students. These measures came as part of the MOE's long-term cooperation with the MOJ, MOI and the Department of Health. Because students are at an impressionable age, Chen said, it is imperative to provide them with proper guidance and character lessons in order to head off any delinquent or criminal behavior in the future.

The CGA reported that the number of maritime tobacco smuggling cases uncovered in the past three years (2009-2011) swelled 67.4 percent from the number in the previous three-year period (2006-2008). Premier Chen instructed the CGA to strengthen joint sea and land investigations by enhancing cooperation with other law enforcement agencies. The Directorate General of Customs will also work closely with the NPA's Special Police Third Headquarters to monitor trafficking via freight containers and other means.

The Legislative Yuan recently approved an amendment to Article 46 of the Tobacco and Alcohol Administration Act, which raised the maximum prison sentence for tobacco smuggling from two to three years and the maximum fine from NT$2 million (US$66,667) to NT$10 million (US$333,333). The revised act is not yet effective. The premier ordered the Ministry of Finance to complete the amendment procedures swiftly to curb smuggling.

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