The May 20 official inauguration of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) second term will be organized in a simple and cost-conscious manner, with a budget of no more than NT$6 million (US$200,000), Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said yesterday.
The budget for the ceremony and celebratory activities would be only 8 percent of the amount spent by former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on his second-term inauguration in 2004, which according to the Presidential Office was nearly NT$70 million. The budget for Ma’s first presidential inauguration in 2008 was about NT$40 million.
“The inauguration ceremony is organized for President Ma’s second term, but since his re-election the president has been focused on government policies and in the face of the recent increase in commodity prices, felt that it was incumbent on the government to be cost-conscious,” Fan Chiang said.
Ma will be sworn in and make his inauguration speech on the morning of May 20, after which he will hold an international press conference in the afternoon.
A state banquet at the Grand Hotel in the evening would be attended by about 600 guests and government officials, Fan Chiang said.
Ma won a re-election on Jan. 14 over the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
The DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) plan to organize demonstrations on May 19 and May 20, aimed at reflecting public displeasure with government policies, including soaring fuel prices and electricity rates and a plan to relax a ban on the import of US beef containing ractopamine residues.
The Presidential Office respected people’s right to express their opinions, but called on the protesters to proceed with the rallies in a legal manner, Fan Chiang said.
The organization committee for the presidential inauguration has applied to have the roads surrounding the Presidential Office reserved for the ceremony.
However, the DPP and the TSU have said that blocking the roads would not stop them from protesting.
In related news, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that a former president from an EU member country would attend the inauguration ceremony.
Declining to disclose the name of the guest, Department of European Affairs director-general James Lee (李光章) said an announcement would be made closer to the day.
Lee said that delegations from the EU, the European Parliament and the Vatican would also attend the inauguration, though the number of guests from Europe is estimated to be fewer than 20 because the Presidential Office has decided the ceremony should be conducted in a “simple but grand manner,” he said.
Meanwhile, Representative to the US Jason Yuan (袁健生) said in Washington that a delegation of US lawmakers, headed by the chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, planned to charter a flight to attend Ma’s inauguration.
Yuan said the White House would soon announce its own list of delegates. Although the US government is unlikely to send any senior officials to the event, he said the delegates would be people with close connections to US President Barack Obama.
Additional reporting by CNA