Tue, Dec 20, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Officials honor late agricultural expert at his Thai home

By Liu Li-jen and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Overseas Community Affairs Council Minister Wu Hsin-hsing (吳新興) and Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand Director Kelly Hsieh (謝武樵) on Thursday last week paid their respects to Sung Ching-yun (宋慶雲), who died on Dec. 8 aged 94.

Sung was one of the first Taiwanese agricultural specialists appointed by the government to help the Thai Royal Highland Agricultural Development Project in Chiang Mai Province. The project aimed to rid Thailand of opium following its identification as a major opium exporter in 1960.

Thai farmers were encouraged to grow fruit instead of poppies, but several fruit saplings offered by Japan, South Korea and other nations experienced shrinkage after being planted in Thailand, an issue that then-Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej mentioned to then-ambassador to Thailand Shen Chang-huan (沈昌煥) in 1970.

Shen suggested that an agricultural team from Taiwan be sent to provide assistance, appointing Sung — then the deputy chief of the retired servicemen’s Fushoushan Ranch at Lishan (梨山) — as the delegation’s leader.

Nicknamed “Papa Sung” by locals and the Thai royal family, including the king, Sung put his experience cultivating fruit orchards to use in the Thai highlands, starting in Chiang Mai’s Ang Khang region just south of the Thai-Burmese border.

By 1974, Sung and his team had overseen the successful expansion of fruit orchards, while poppy fields were on the decline.

Born in Dalian, China, and relocated to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War, Sung remained in Chiang Mai after his team’s consultancy ended.

Sung’s adopted son, Sung Ching-hua (宋清華), said a portion of Sung Ching-yun’s remains would be buried at the Ang Khang farm where he spent most of his later life, while a second portion would be taken to Dalian.

A third portion might be buried in Taiwan, provided a suitable location is found, he said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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