Fri, Nov 16, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Abrupt exit of ex-Dutch envoy raises questions

TAINAN CONNECTION:Menno Goedhart took up residence in the city after his retirement, and did research at National Cheng Kung University

Staff writer, with CNA

Menno Goedhart, the former head of the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office in Taiwan, left, poses with his wife, Ingrid, on Jan. 13 last year.

Photo courtesy of Menno Goedhart’s office

The Greater Tainan Government is trying to get in touch with former Dutch diplomat Menno Goedhart after his recent abrupt departure from the municipality, Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德), said on Wednesday.

“I’m trying to get in touch with Goedhart to learn if there were difficulties in his daily life or work,” Lai said in response to questions by Greater Tainan Councilor Chiu Li-li (邱莉莉) during a question-and-answer session at the Greater Tainan Council.

Chiu inquired about the reason for Goedhart’s departure, especially because he is an honorary citizen of the municipality.

When Goedhart published his book, titled The Real Taiwan and the Dutch: Traveling Notes from the Netherlands Representative, at the Chihkan Tower (赤嵌樓) in Tainan, he said: “Tainan is my home,” Chiu said.

Chiu also asked about the reason for Goedhart’s departure, which reportedly was that he was unable to adapt to a culture in which “policies change when leaders change.”

He also pointed out that Tainan Holland Day, which Tainan has hosted for four years, was not held this year.

Lai said he thought the reason for Goedhart’s departure was a “misunderstanding,” adding “it’s a pity” he decided to leave.

Yeh Tse-shan (葉澤山), head of Tainan’s Cultural Affairs Bureau, said he did not know why the former diplomat left.

He said Tainan Holland Day was co-sponsored by the city government and the Dutch representative office in Taiwan in the past, but the office was not keen on hosting the event this year.

National Cheng Kung University, which had invited Goedhart to work as a researcher after his retirement, said he did not return to the school this year.

Goedhart served as the head of the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office in Taiwan from 2002 to 2010.

He was dubbed “Mr Taiwan” because of his love of Taiwan and familiarity with the country.

He was also keen on tracing the footprints of the Dutch in Taiwan, who reigned over the Tainan area and other areas from 1624 to 1662. During that period, some Dutch men married Aborigines, mostly from the Rukai Tribe.

In 2009, Goedhart visited Pingtung County’s Wutai Township (霧台) along with nearly 40 Dutch people residing in Taiwan, for a meeting with descendants of the mixed marriages. Due to his close friendship with the tribe, Goedhart was made an honorary chieftain with the name Ama Daganau.

Goedhart decided to settle down in Tainan’s Sinhua District (新化) after his retirement in August 2010.

Friends close to the former envoy said he left mainly because his research has not been going smoothly and because he did not feel respected by the Greater Tainan Government and National Cheng Kung University.

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