In his remarks, the president praised the many foreign-based Taiwan business people and overseas compatriots who came back to vote in the recent presidential and legislative elections, and specially saluted the 23 million residents of Taiwan for the steadily increasing level of political maturity they have demonstrated over the course of five direct presidential elections. News media in Europe and the United States have described Taiwan as a model of democracy in Asia, said the president, who noted that even intellectuals in mainland China have praised Taiwan's democracy as the pride of the ethnic Chinese world and a model worthy of emulation by the mainland in the future. President Ma added that we share a common destiny, and that this honor and dignity reflects equally upon us all. He expressed his hope that the people of Taiwan will work together to create a "flagship of democracy" here.
President Ma also mentioned that the world has experienced one global economic crisis after another in recent years, and now the European debt crisis will be a cloud over the global economy during the coming year, but Taiwan can successfully overcome this challenge.
The president remarked that cross-strait relations are gradually developing amid an atmosphere of peace, space for the ROC within the international community is expanding in a stable manner, the benefits of clean government are gradually coming to the fore, Taiwan's standing in international rankings issued by various organizations continues to rise, and Taiwan has reached a stage at which a fundamental transformation is about to take place. The president added that the "golden decade" vision that he previously laid out is aimed at building up the ROC as a first-class nation. The era of transformation here has already begun, he commented.
The following is the content of the president's Lunar New Year's greeting to the nation:
My dearest compatriots and everyone watching on television:
Happy New Year and congratulations to you all! (recited in Mandarin, Minnanese, Hakka, and indigenous languages)
In just a few hours, we will welcome in the Lunar New Year. With families throughout the nation gathered for the holidays, this is a particularly happy time for us all.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone, wherever they may be, a Happy New Year and a prosperous Year of the Dragon.
There is something special about this year. What do I mean by this? This year, more people than usual have returned from around the world to gather for the holidays with their families here in Taiwan. They did so to cast their votes in the recent elections.
Many Taiwan business people working in mainland China came back to Taiwan to vote. The same goes for many compatriots residing overseas. I am particularly touched by the enthusiasm exhibited by these individuals.
I would like to pay a special salute to the 23 million people of Taiwan. We have now been through five direct presidential elections, and despite the challenges, controversies, and differences among us, we have exhibited cooperation. We have worked hand in hand to overcome disputes. We have continued to move forward, and our democracy has grown more mature with each election.
The European and American media have labeled Taiwan as a model of democracy in Asia, and we have indeed lived up to this accolade. These days, even intellectuals in mainland China are lauding Taiwan's democracy, saying that it is the pride of ethnic Chinese the world over and that Taiwan serves as an example for the mainland. This is the result of the joint efforts of the 23 million people of Taiwan.
We share a common destiny. The honor and dignity of our nation reflects equally upon us all. Regardless of political affiliation, regardless whether you live in a city or the countryside, and regardless whether you are near the ocean or in the mountains, we are all people of Taiwan. Together, we are working to create a "flagship of democracy" here.
The world has experienced a string of financial crises over the past several years, and the European debt crisis will be a big threat over the coming year. However, I am confident that we will be able to successfully overcome this challenge.
Today, the cross-strait relationship is gradually moving forward in an atmosphere of peace. At the same time, the ROC is winning greater space for itself in the international community, and doing it in a stable manner. Meanwhile, the benefits of clean government are coming gradually to the fore. The increasingly higher ratings assigned to Taiwan by international institutions are a reflection of these developments. Taiwan is ready to undergo a fundamental transformation.
The objective of the "golden decade" vision for Taiwan that I previously laid out is to help turn Taiwan into a first-rate nation. Pessimism is not an option. There is nothing for us but to move forward with optimism! The era of transformation here has already begun!
My dearest friends, when it comes time to ring out the old and ring in the new, we always eat the traditional dish of longevity greens to wish our elders long life and our children good health. As we enter a new year, I deeply hope that we will embody the vigor and spirit of dragons and horses.
It is my earnest desire that Taiwan will welcome in a new era, and that we will see the development of our homeland, the success of business, and good fortune for our children and children's children.
Lastly, I would again like to wish you all a very happy Year of the Dragon!