Taiwan’s president begins four-day Gambia visit
Thursday, April 12, 2012
The president of the Republic of China on Taiwan Wednesday afternoon arrived in The Gambia for a four-day state visit; a move many analysts believe will further strengthen the existing bilateral ties between Banjul and Taipei. The visit is part of a 12-day tour of four African nations that are allies of Taiwan.
Accompanied by a high-powered delegation including ministers, senior government officials and 34 accompanying journalists from nine television stations and other media outlets in Taiwan, His Excellency President Ma Ying-Jeou, who was on board a China Airliness aircraft touched down at the Banjul International Airport at 15:32pm. Dressed in a black suit, the Taiwanese leader, who is visiting The Gambia for the first time was received at the foot of the aircraft by his Gambian counterpart, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh.
Among other prominent personalities present to receive the Taiwanese leader and delegation were the Gambian vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy; the chief justice, Emmanuel Agim; ministers, National Assembly members elect, senior government officials, religious leaders, members of the diplomatic community, managing directors, a large section of the Gambian populace and members of the Taiwanese Embassy staff and community in The Gambia.
The Taiwanese head of state went on to inspect a guard of honour mounted by personnel of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) shortly after disembarking from the plane. He was also treated to a display of cultural and musical performances by the Gambia's Kora maestro, Jaliba Kuyateh and other cultural troupes.
Shortly after the usual airport ceremony, the two leaders drove through the Lamin to Westfield, Kairaba Avenue to Bertil Harding Highwayleading to the Coco Ocean Hotel in Bijilo where the visiting head of state was installed.
Thousands of peoplelined the highway right from the gate of the Airport to the Coco Ocean Hotel in Bijilo, to give a most befitting welcome to President Ma and delegation. This is a traditional welcome by Gambians to showcase their hospitality and appreciation of a foreign head of state. The country has a reputation for giving rare and memorable treats to important visitors especially heads of state.
Among the line of activities in The Gambia by the Taiwanese leader includes a visit to selected projects.
Today, the visiting president is expected to visit the Banjulinding Women’s Horticultural Garden and the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in Brikama before heading to the Gambian leader’s native village of Kanilai. There, he is expected to visits scores of areas of President Jammeh’s agricultural ventures including the Noni Garden, the fish pond, the animal park, and the seed processing facility.
Also key on the long list of activities include a visit to the Naval fleet patrol boats donated by his government at the Gambia Ports Authority, the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital, Gambia National Museum, Serrekunda Hospital, the Macky Memorial Hospital Medical Service, the Taiwanese Embassy, and the Taiwan Cultural Centre, amongst others.
President Ma and his Gambian counterpart are expected to have a tête-à-tête on Saturday at State House in Banjul before they jointly sign a communiqué to wrap-up the four-day visit after which he will depart from the country.
Since diplomatic and political ties between The Gambia and her Asian Island ally nation resumed in 1995, the hallmark of the Banjul-Taipei friendship has been massive support to the Gambia’s infrastructural and economic development endeavours underpinned by mutual trust and understanding.
The 23million people Asian Island nation continues to support the Gambia’s development crusade in almost all sectors. Among them include immense contribution in the field of agriculture, education, health, science and technology, as well as human resource development. More and more Gambian students continue to receive higher education at degree levels every year in various Taiwanese universities, and majority of these students have already returned to The Gambia to contribute their quota to the nation’s development agenda.
Taiwan also continues to strengthen The Gambia’s security sector with trainings and provision of equipment to the armed and security services.
In same vein, The Gambia continues to serve as a strong advocate for Taiwan at international fora such as the United Nations General Assembly, denouncing her ally’s exclusion from participation in the international and specialised organisations. It has since 1995 been maintaining her stance in the call for a just treatment of the case of Taiwan in the international community, especially for its participation in the specialised agencies and mechanism of the UN system.
With this visit, it is anticipated that relations between the two countries willcontinue to grow from strength to strength.
Ma Ying-Jeou, born July 13, 1950 is also the Chairman of the Kuomintang Party, also known as the Chinese Nationalist Party. Previous roles include Justice Minister (1993-96) and Mayor of Taipei (1998-06). He is also the current Chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) having served in that role since 2005 stepping down for a period between 2007 and 2009. Ma first won the presidency by 58.45% of the popular vote in the presidential election of 2008, and was re-elected in 2012 with 51.6% of the vote.
Ma Ying-jeou was born in Kwong Wah Hospital in Kowloon, Hong Kong. He is of Hakka ancestry, originating from Hunan Province of China. In a family of five children, Ma was the only son.
He earned his LL.B. from National Taiwan University in 1972. He pursued further studies in the United States, first earning an LL.M. from New York University Law School in 1976 and then an S.J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1981.
After receiving his LL.M., Ma worked as an associate for a Wall Street law firm in New York and as a legal consultant for a major bank in Massachusetts in the US before completing his doctoral studies. In 1981, he returned to Taiwan and started working for President Chiang Ching-kuo.
He is married to Christine Chow, and the couple has two daughters. Ma and his wife sponsor children of low-income families in El Salvador through World Vision.
Author: by Hatab Fadera