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January 14, 2005

Taipei Mayor To Visit Australia, Cancels Trip To Thailand

From: Taiwan Headlines, Taiwan - Jan 14, 2005

Taipei, Jan. 14 (CNA) Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou will travel to Australia Saturday to take part in the closing ceremony of the 2005 Deaf Olympics in Melbourne. Speaking to reporters at his office, Ma said that he will only participate in the event Sunday and will pay a visit to Melbourne Mayor John So the next day before flying back to Taiwan later that same day. Ma said he had decided to cancel planned visits to Sydney and Bangkok, originally slated for Jan. 17 and Jan. 18-19, respectively. The mayor's decision to shorten his visit came following news that a four-year-old Taipei girl remained seriously ill and in a coma over the past few days in a hospital in central Taichung County. The girl, who had been beaten up by her drunk father, was forced to be transferred to Taichung for treatment after many hospitals in Taipei refused to treat her under the excuse of no available hospital beds. The incident aroused outrage among the public, who are furious and blame the various municipal hospitals who were contacted by the Emergency Operations Center for the fiasco. The head of the municipal health bureau apologized and resigned. Ma acknowledged that the incident has brought shame to Taipei City, which prides itself on its medical facilities and personnel. Meanwhile, The mayor's approval rate has dropped to 67 percent -- the lowest level since he assumed his second four-year term in 2002. (By Flor Wang)

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