SVG Speaker Visits ROC President
President Ma Ying-jeou met with Hendrick Alexander, St. Vincent and the Grenadines House of Assembly Speaker, on the afternoon of December 1 at the Presidential Office. The president, on behalf of the government and people of Taiwan, extended a warm welcome and deep appreciation to Speaker Alexander on his visit to Taiwan.
The president commented that October 27 of this year marked the 30th anniversary of independence for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He noted that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves extended him an invitation to visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and that he in turn appointed Examination Yuan President John Kuan as his special envoy in leading a delegation to that nation to extend congratulations. The ROC delegation received a warm welcome and hospitality while there, and the trip was both smooth and a pleasant one, he said. President Ma said that he wanted to specially express his appreciation in this regard.
President Ma pointed out that two years after gaining its independence, St. Vincent and the Grenadines established diplomatic relations with the ROC, with ties between the two now dating back 28 years. The two countries have a deep alliance and maintain close cooperation in the areas of economics, culture, and education, he said. Meanwhile, the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has assisted the ROC in participating in Caribbean regional organizations, which has helped to significantly increase the ROC's visibility in the international community and has further solidified Taiwan's friendship with other Caribbean nations, the president said.
President Ma furthermore said that St. Vincent and the Grenadines last week held a referendum on a new constitution, becoming the first nation in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to hold a referendum on a constitution. The democratic experience of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has made it a model in the Caribbean, he said, adding that he admires the achievements reached there. The president noted that the ROC drafted its constitution in 1946, with implementation taking place the following year. While the ROC constitution has been in force for many decades, true democratization only began here some two decades ago, he said. Since the government announced the lifting of martial law, the ROC has held four direct presidential elections, and power has shifted between political parties twice. The ROC has finally established its own precious democratic system, the president remarked. Last year, he said, former US President George Bush specially sent him a telegram offering congratulations on his presidential victory and referred to Taiwan as "a beacon of democracy to Asia and the world." This not only affirms Taiwan's democratization, but also further strengthens the ROC's confidence to continue to progress down the road of democracy, he said.
The president said that the new administration has adopted a diplomatic agenda of flexible diplomacy since it took office last year. This policy has been responsible for improving relations between Taiwan and mainland China, enabling the two sides to no longer engage in meaningless contention over diplomatic allies. The ROC, he said, will continue to strengthen its relationships and cooperation projects with its friends and allies, he said. For instance, President Ma said that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has over time selected 24 students to come to study for degrees in Taiwan. These students have all received scholarships provided by Taiwan. President Ma said that he hopes that this scholarship program can be expanded in the future and that the English language curriculums offered can be even more well-rounded, providing students from English-speaking allies more opportunities to complete their academic endeavors and promote bilateral academic interaction.
Speaker Alexander expressed his appreciation to President Ma for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with him. He also said that the government and people of his nation are grateful to the ROC government for the various bilateral cooperation projects that have been carried out in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, helping to further strengthen relations between the two sides. Speaker Alexander said this visit to Taiwan demonstrates that the alliance between the two will continue to progress. He also made mention of the warmth and hospitality of the Taiwan people. Speaker Alexander, on behalf of Prime Minister Gonsalves, also passed along best wishes to President Ma and the people of Taiwan, adding that he expects the alliance to remain strong for many years to come.
Speaker Alexander, Deputy Speaker Rochelle Forde, and former Cabinet Secretary Bernard Morgan were accompanied to the Presidential Office in the afternoon by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Javier Ching-shan Hou to meet President Ma. Also in attendance was National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Ho Szu-yin.