Mon, Jul 18, 2016 - Page 3 News List

ASEAN representatives back southbound policy

By Lu Yi-hsuan  /  Staff reporter

ASEAN countries have “strong feelings” about President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) proposed “new southbound policy,” Singapore Trade Office in Taipei Representative Wong Wie Kuen (黃偉權) said, adding that he hopes the Legislative Yuan would pass relevant laws as soon as possible.

Wong made the remarks on Friday while attending the inauguration of a Taiwan-ASEAN Parliamentary Friendship Association, with representatives from Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia also present.

According to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, the southbound policy is Taiwan’s new outward-oriented, five-year economic plan. The government plans on enhancing bilateral interaction and cooperation of human resources, industries, investments, education, culture, tourism and agriculture between Taiwan, ASEAN and South Asian nations.

Wong said that since Tsai was sworn into office, all ASEAN countries have had “strong feelings” about the proposed policy.

In the past two months, there have been 16 large-scale events relating to the policy, showing that the government is focused on it, Wong said.

Wong urged lawmakers at the event “not to block legislation promoting relationships between Taiwan and ASEAN, and to pass it by applauding.”

In the past few months, the legislature has managed to establish inter-parliamentary groups with Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

On Friday, the new Taiwan-ASEAN Parliamentary Friendship Association was officially inaugurated.

Representatives included Malaysian Friendship and Trade Center Taipei President Datuk Pung Shuk Ken, the Philippines Deputy Representative to Taiwan Carlo Aquino, Thailand Trade and Economic Office Deputy Representative Suree Trairatananukool, Indonesian Economic and Trade Office to Taipei Deputy Representative Siswadi and Wong.

DPP Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) said Taiwan is part of the Southeast Asian family and the group is just the beginning to bolster exchanges.

Thirty Taiwanese lawmakers have joined the group, Chiu said, adding that he hopes Taiwan can develop closer ties with ASEAN countries over politics, economy, culture and education through parliament-to-parliament exchanges.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Leo Lee (李澄然), who also took part in Friday’s event, said that this year would be crucial for Taiwan to enhance relations with ASEAN countries, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would actively assist the new group in related activities.

Bureau of Foreign Trade Deputy Director-General David Hsu (徐大衛) said that ASEAN is Taiwan’s second-largest trade partner, second-largest export market, and third-largest source of imports, adding that the Ministry of Economic Affairs this month sent delegations to Vietnam and Thailand to seek more opportunities in cooperation, in accordance with the southbound policy.

Pung said because governments are limited in what they can do, friendship between nations are mostly maintained through people.

She said there are more than 16,000 Malaysian students studying in Taiwan, while another 5,000 Malaysians work in Taiwan.

Pung said there are 16 Aboriginal communities in Taiwan, and 32 in Malaysia, adding that she took part in a Tsou Aboriginal festival and saw cultural similarities to Aboriginal people in Malaysia’s Sabah state.

Pung said she hopes that there could be more exchanges between Aborigines of the two nations.

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