Taipei, Sept. 11 (CNA) Republic of China President Chen Shui-bian said Monday that the "volunteer spirit" will help Taiwan become a modern civil society, and that this spirit can already be felt in every corner of the island.
Receiving Kenn Allen, president of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE), Chen said that volunteering is not only about contributing but, more importantly, about participating. Chen added that he is willing to do his part to propagate the volunteer spirit because "being president is a volunteer job, too."
The second-highest paid president in the world said that a government has limited resources and cannot do an infinite number of things. However, he added that if the government joins forces with the public--which has "unlimited resources"--much can be accomplished.
He went on to say that he was deeply impressed after seeing the outstanding performance of ROC medical, agricultural, education, charity, and religious missions during his "journey of friendship" last month to various ROC allies. "Wherever there are people," he continued, there will be volunteer groups from Taiwan quietly dedicating themselves to a cause.
Chen said that the new diplomatic service being offered as an alternative to mandatory military service is a way of encouraging the nation's youth to receive training after graduation and go to those countries that need help through a kind of "peacetime volunteering."
He continued: "Helping others is like helping yourself. When you help someone else stand up, it is a contribution to society."
He also said the spirit of volunteering is ingrained in Taiwan, citing as an example the days of his childhood, when he said that neighbors would always lend chairs, tables, and even bowls and chopsticks to each other for wedding banquets--even if it meant standing up to eat dinner because the chairs had all been lent to the next door neighbor.