Taipei, Taiwan, May 20, 2016 (SKNIS)—Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, along with his delegation, was among nearly 700 heads of state, diplomats and foreign dignitaries from 59 countries (Taiwan’s 22 diplomatic allies and 37 that do not have formal ties with Taipei) around the world to witness the historic inauguration ceremony of the Republic of China’s (Taiwan) 14th and first female president, Dr. Tsai Ing-Wen, along with her Vice President, Chen Chien-jen, on May 20 in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei.
The Honour Guard of Taiwan, Panai Kusui, Sheng Xiang Band, Fire EX, several choirs including the Taiwan National Choir, Puzangalan Children’s Choir, and a flyover by Thunder Tigers Aerobatic Team punctuated the spectacular ceremony with performances. The performances re-enacted Taiwan’s history of democracy and its rejection of an authoritarian past as the fruit of people’s efforts and struggles.
In her almost forty minute inaugural address before thousands under the heat of a merciless sun, President Tsai sounded the alarm that all was not rosy in Taiwan including its financial situation, judicial system, disparities of wealth and pension system.
“Our pension system will go bankrupt without reform. Our rigid educational system is increasingly out of touch with society. Our energy and resources are limited, and our economy lacks momentum…this country urgently needs a new model for economic development. Our population is rapidly aging, while the long-term care system remains inadequate. Our birthrate remains low, while a sound childcare system seems a distant prospect. Our environment still suffers from severe pollution. Our country’s financial situation is far from optimistic. Our judicial system has lost the trust of the people. Our families are deeply disturbed by food safety scandals. Our wealth disparities are still widening. Our social safety net is full of holes. Most importantly, and I must stress: our young people still suffer from low wages. Their lives are stuck, and they feel helpless and confused about the future,” President Tsai said.
In order to confront the many difficulties and challenges that Taiwan faces, she said: “The people elected a new president and a new government with one single expectation: solving problems. At this very moment, Taiwan faces a difficult situation that requires its leaders to shoulder the burdens without hesitation. This is something I will not forget. I would also like to tell you that, the multitude of challenges before us require that we face them honestly and shoulder the responsibilities together. Therefore, this speech is an invitation. I invite every fellow citizen to carry the future of this country,” she said, while urging all to “stand united for change” and to “leave behind the prejudices and conflicts of the past, and together fulfill the mission that the new era has entrusted to us.”
The president’s speech was built on four pillars: One, “Transforming Economic Structures” which she considers as “the most formidable task that the new administration must take on; Two, “Strengthening the Social Safety Net” where she said that a government must “demonstrate empathy” and “propose solutions” by “swiftly mending holes in areas such as public safety, education, mental health and social work”; Three, “Social Fairness and Justice” in that “ the new government will continue to work with civil society to align its policies with the values of diversity, equality, openness, transparency and human rights, so as to deepen and evolve Taiwan’s democratic institutions”; and Four, “Regional Peace and Stability and Cross-Strait Relations” where she highlighted that since 1992 interactions and negotiations across the Strait have enabled and accumulated outcomes which both sides must collectively cherish and maintain.
President Tsai succeeds President Ma Ying-jeou who served as president from 2008-2016.
Premier of Nevis, the Honourable Vance Amory and Prime Minister Harris witnessed the swearing in ceremony of the president and vice president said that they were confident that the common good of Taiwan will continue to be looked after. Prime Minister Harris has repeatedly sung the praises of the cooperation between St. Kitts and Nevis and Taiwan and has expressed his government’s desire for that mutual friendship to continue growing stronger.
A visit to Taiwan’s High Court (E-Court) and to Taipei City Police Department CCTV Center by Prime Minister Harris and his delegation on May 19 has opened avenues for cooperation with St. Kitts and Nevis in enhancing its judicial and crime-fighting processes.
Several countries with delegations in attendance included St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Haiti, Brazil, Chile, and Peru.