TAIWAN AT 97
Friday, October 10, 2008
The Taiwanese Embassy in Banjul, last night, commemorated its 97th year of nationhood, at a colourful reception held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi. The occasion was attended by secretaries of state, National Assembly members, service chiefs, diplomats, religious leaders, a cross section of the business community and other prominent Gambians.
Addressing the gathering, Dr Richard Shih, ambassador of the Republic of China on Taiwan to The Gambia, hailed Gambians for their demonstration of solidarity in commemorating their national day. He described The Gambia as a country that has a rich and diversified culture, observing that The Gambia's disciplined and peace loving people serve as a gateway for ECOWAS to bestow confidence on the country's potential in developing its agriculture, industry and service sectors.
According to the Taiwanese ambassador, the new administration of his country has undertaken to better democracy, open up and deregulate the economy, satisfy the needs of the underprivileged, restore political ethics, pursue environmental sustainability and accountability in governance, as well as to abide by the principles of separation of powers for faster socio-economic development.
"The new administration has pledged to render the Republic of China on Taiwan a respectable member of the global village, which will uphold equality, reciprocity, good neighbourliness, respect to treaties, advancement of international justice, as well as enhancement of world peace as its guiding principles in developing foreign relations," Ambassador Shih indicated, stressing that his country will continue to cherish its diplomatic allies, honour its commitment to them, and expand cooperation.
Ambassador Shih further observed that as sincere partners, The Gambia and Taiwan have made remarkable achievements in a range of bi-lateral projects, this year.
"On education, apart from the 25 Gambian students who have just completed their 4-year bachelor programs in Taiwan, there is a total of 107 Gambian students currently on bachelor, masters and doctoral programs offered by the Republic Of China, whilst financial support towards the President's Empowerment for Girls Education has enabled it to extend education to more than 31,000 girls. A total of 35 Gambians also attended training seminars in Taiwan on various development subjects,'' he indicated.
On health care, the ambassador went on to say that in addition to a contribution of $221,000, their collaboration with the Department of State for Health has helped ensure the continued provision of health care in The Gambia. He noted that on agriculture, the introduction of new horticultural farming skills in the country was a plus added to their other achievements in the sector. According to Ambassador Shih, they also intervened in the infrastructural development of the country, noting the ongoing No. 2 feeder road project, the Kanilai Convention Center and Studio Project, Kanilai Academy project, as well as the Mayork High School Project.
The Taiwanese Ambassador, who saluted The Gambia Government for its recognition in maintaining macroeconomic stability at the level of the International Monetary Fund, acknowledged The Gambia's immense support to his country in the international arena.
"At the 61st session of the World Health Organisation in May, 2008, and the 63rd session of the United Nation General Assembly in September, this year, The Gambia once again rendered its support for Taiwan's bid to participate in the international arena,'' he said, saying that this demonstrates The Gambia's care for not only Taiwan and its 23 million people, but its longstanding commitment to promoting effective and seamless cooperation in the global village.
Also speaking at the occasion, Dr Omar Touray, secretary of state for Foreign Affairs, conveyed the heartfelt congratulations of the Gambian leader, President Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, to Ambassador Richard Shih, the government and people of Taiwan on the occasion.
According to the savvy Foreign Secretary, over the years, Taiwan has demonstrated its commitment to The Gambia's development through effective intervention in various sectors of the economy, which encompass health, education, infrastructure, agriculture and technology.
Dr Touray cited that the training opportunities that Taiwan has made available to The Gambia, have enabled Gambians to have training in critical and vital areas. This, Dr Touray added, will significantly boost the human resource base of the country. "President Jammeh has always considered Taiwan to be a special friend of The Gambia. The Gambia will be steadfast in her commitment to Taiwan's national interest. We will forever champion Taiwan's cause at the international arena," he stressed.
He said that most recently, on the instruction of President Jammeh, "I took part in the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly". Among the issues raised at General Assembly, according to the Foreign Affairs Secretary, was the considerable loss the world has been suffering as a result of the exclusion of Taiwan from taking part in the works of the United Nations specialised agencies. "Indeed it is difficult to understand how a nation of 23 million people, that is, the world's 18th largest economy and the 20th outboard investor, can be excluded from bodies such as the World Health Organisation and other specialised agencies," he said.
And he went on: "Again, it is difficult to understand the rationale to exclude a country with the world's 10th largest shipping capacity from the International Maritime Organisation. For The Gambia, therefore, there is a need for the world to re-examine Taiwan's case. We are honoured by the decision of Franscisco OU, the foreign minister of Taiwan, to make The Gambia his first port of call on his forthcoming tour of the Africa. For us, this means that the administration of President MA Ying-Jeou will continue to give priority to the Taiwanese-Gambian relation," he concluded.
At the end of the ceremony, a raffle draw was conducted and 32 prizes were awarded to the various lucky winners, including Marie Saine Firddaus, Attorney General & secretary of state for Justice.
Author: by Lamin M Dibba& Hatab Fadera