Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday held a news conference in Malaysia to protest the World Chinese Economic Summit’s failure to acknowledge him as the former president of the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan
At the summit earlier in the day, the program designated Ma as “H.E. Ma, Ying-jeou, World Chinese Leader,” or simply “H.E. Ma, Ying-jeou,” without a title, whereas all other heads of state were fully credited.
Refusing to accept the organizer’s arrangements, Ma attended the meeting to give his speech with his own tag, which read: “Former President of the Republic of China (Taiwan),” and introduced himself as such at the beginning of his speech in Malacca.
Hours after the speech, Ma criticized summit organizers, saying: “It is hard to fathom this kind of unfair and unreasonable treatment which harms me and also cross-strait relations. This attack on my personal dignity is unacceptable and I will fight for what is right.”
“It is apparent that intervention by the Chinese embassy in Malaysia caused this row,” Ma said.
He said that the invitation by Southern University College had clearly addressed him as a former president of the ROC, but a few days prior to his visit, “there were signs that things had gone wrong,” including questions from the organizers asking whether “world Chinese leader” could be used instead of former president.
Ma said his initial reply was that he would decline the invitation if the organizers insisted on not calling him “former president.” The college agreed at the time to designate him as such, but arrangements for his speech remained in dispute even after his departure from Taipei.
Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) issued a statement criticizing the organizers, saying the treatment Ma received was “extremely impolite and inappropriate” for the former head of Taiwan, demanding “an immediate apology and correction.”
In his speech, Ma said Taiwan-ASEAN ties are to become even closer as a result of Taiwan’s innovation and technology, the entanglement of Southeast Asian economies and the cultural links between Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries.
Under normal conditions trade relations are developed to pursue common interests and are not exclusive, he said.
Political and diplomatic factors affected Taiwan’s efforts to join regional trade arrangements, but ASEAN will support Taiwan’s participation in trade organizations and agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, he said.
Taiwan’s advanced technologies play an important role in the global supply chain and bring advantages to all nations, Ma said, adding that when serving as Taipei mayor 13 years ago he advocated the nation’s inclusion in the ASEAN+3 as an informational member and he hopes Taiwan “will not wait 13 more years” to be a part of regional economic integration.
In response to a reporter’s question on the legal challenge the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) faces from the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee, Ma said: “The KMT faced many difficulties in more than a century of history and I believe solidarity and reform have the power to change destinies, as Sun Yat-sen is the exemplar of KMT members.”
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiao-kuang
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