President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday pledged in his New Year’s address to pass on to the next generation the legacies of previous generations, including freedom, democracy, justice, civilization and compassion.
In his address, titled “Lighting Candles for the Next Generation,” Ma said yesterday marked the start of the 101st year of the Republic of China (ROC).
“A couple of hours ago, the first light of dawn in the ROC’s second century broke over the peak of Yushan (玉山). During the past few days, at the juncture of these two centuries, a clear vision has taken shape in my mind. It is as if I were standing atop a historic watershed.”
“On one side is a slope representing the past century. On the other side is a slope representing the next century. The course of past events is clearly in view, while the basic logic of what lies ahead can be seen in broad outline,” he said.
“I see our forebears struggling mightily to bring about today’s Republic of China. Looking ahead, I can imagine ROC citizens 100 years from now scrutinizing what we in this era created for the country, what we introduced, what we solved and what we bequeathed to it,” Ma said.
“Everything we do today decides what will happen in the future. As president of the Republic of China, I am keenly aware of how heavy a responsibility this is,” he said.
“A century ago when the Republic of China had just been founded, the New Culture Movement championed by Hu Shih (胡適) brought the force of reason to bear upon the direction of national development. Since then, freedom, democracy, science and tolerance have comprised the guiding spirit of the past 100 years,” Ma said.
The president then reflected on individuals who in the past 100 years had marked the development of Taiwan, from those who played a role in opposing Japanese colonial rule, to key thinkers in publishing, democratization, academic freedom, education and religion.
“During the final three years of our nation’s first century, the ROC, along with the rest of the world, suffered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the last century,” he said. “And now we head shakily into a new century under the threat posed by the European debt crisis.”
“Instead of downplaying it, I choose to be honest with the people: 2012 will be a difficult and critical year. We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us ... As the global economy reconfigures following the outbreak of financial crisis, we must take a page out of their playbook and lay a solid foundation for the next generation,” Ma said.
“Despite daunting challenges in the external environment, I have faith in the people of Taiwan and in our ability to adapt. I have faith in the strength of our economy and in the profound depth of our culture,” he said.
“During the past 100 years, we endured a long period of war and upheaval, and then worked hard to catch up in peaceful times. Without realizing it, we have already transformed ourselves from learners to innovators; from trend followers to cultural trendsetters; from importers of compassion to exporters of it; and from all-out pursuers of efficiency, to adroit managers and innovators,” he said. “The citizens of our country should feel pride and joy at the achievement of this transition and maturity. This is our best source of strength as we head into the ROC’s next century.”