Wed, Nov 16, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Ma in Malaysia on first trip as former president

Staff writer, with CNA

Former president Ma Ying-jeou, front row, center, waves as he poses with his hosts on the steps of Southern University College in Johor, Malaysia, yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday departed for Malaysia on a four-day trip, his first overseas visit since leaving office on May 20.

Speaking at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport before departing, Ma dismissed as “outrageous” reports that his Malaysia visit was being made to help promote China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, as a local Chinese-language newspaper claimed.

The initiative represents an attempt by Beijing to project China’s economic influence into Southeast, South and Central Asia and bolster its own economy, combining the Silk Road economic belt and the 21st-century maritime Silk Road.

Ma said that after people hear his speech [planned in his itinerary], they will know what the trip is about, adding that he asked the newspaper that published what he called “misinformation” to admit its mistake and apologize.

Ma is making the visit at the invitation of Southern University College in Malaysia and the Eighth World Chinese Economic Summit.

He said the invitation and promotional material describe him as the “former president of Taiwan,” but he “deeply regretted” that a Malaysian newspaper has called him “a former leader of Taiwan.”

“This is because the media has to be neutral and professional and not swayed by undue forces to change its stance,” he said, adding that he would no longer deal with that media outlet.

In an exclusive interview with Ma, the Sin Chew Daily described him as the “former president of Taiwan,” but its online edition calls him a “former leader of Taiwan.”

The newspaper claims to have the highest circulation among Chinese-language newspapers in Southeast Asia and says it is “the largest Chinese-language media outlet outside of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.”

After arriving in Kuala Lumpur, Ma traveled to Johor, where he gave a speech on the future of Asia at Southern University College.

Tomorrow, Ma is expected to visit Penang to see historical sites visited by Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙).

On Thursday, he is to attend the World Chinese Economic Summit in Melaka and speak on closer economic relations between Taiwan and ASEAN.

Ma is scheduled to return home on Friday.

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