Taiwan is saddened by the passing of former South African president Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement yesterday. The government deeply admired Mandela’s remarkable lifelong contributions to the promotion of freedom, democracy, justice, human rights and reconciliation, the ministry said.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) paid tribute to Mandela’s life and legacy and extended his condolences to Mandela’s family and the South African government and people, the statement said.
On his official Facebook page, Ma wrote that he was saddened by Mandela’s passing.
“As the news came just a few days before the Dec. 10 World Human Rights Day, I feel particularly dismayed and sorrowed,” Ma wrote, praising Mandela as a human rights fighter, and saying that Mandela’s spirit and perseverance in pursuit of human rights and justice will remain alive forever.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said Mandela was an honorable statesman that he had looked up to, because whether he was a prisoner of conscience or the president of his country, he had remained adamant in his determination to promote non-violent activism.
“Even after spending 27 years behind bars as a political prisoner, Mandela still chose to embrace his opponents with a gentle heart and unite different ethnic groups with forgiveness,” Su said.
Former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also expressed condolences on Facebook.
“Looking back, Mr Mandela’s life was not just an exemplification of the everlasting, cross-national values of freedom and democracy. His fight against racial segregation and his endeavor to bring reconciliation and racial equality allowed us to see the highest level of wisdom and selfless love of mankind … and showed us it is possible to build a free, equal country free of discrimination and oppression,” Tsai said.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said that Mandela was a globally respected leader with a great democratic consciousness, whose demise was a great loss to the people of South Africa.
“I had spent some time with Mr. Mandela when he visited Taiwan [in 1993]. He was a straightforward and magnanimous man, and was really fond of Taiwan,” Wang said.
Mandela visited Taiwan when he was leader of the African National Congress. Then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) granted him the Order of Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon, the nation’s highest honor for foreign nationals, in recognition of his lifelong pursuit of freedom, democracy and justice.
Mandela praised Taiwan’s efforts to promote human rights and social justice.