Today is truly an auspicious day as we gather here to confer upon Prime Minister Kemakeza of the Solomon Islands Taiwan's highest diplomatic honor--the Order of Brilliant Stars with Special Grand Cordon--in recognition of his contribution to the furtherance of Taiwan--Solomon Islands bilateral relations and for his moral courage in speaking out for Taiwan in the international community.
This award brings together Taiwan and the Solomon Islands by acknowledging also the special friendship between our two countries that started in 1983 when formal diplomatic ties was established between Taiwan and the Solomon Islands; moreover, this award embodies the values of international justice, democracy and peace.
On behalf of the government and people of the Republic of China (Taiwan), I would like to once again extend to Prime Minister Kemakeza, Madam Kemakeza, and all members of the Solomon Islands Delegation, our most sincere welcome and best wishes.
I have always believed that "moral character and friendship," "peace and reconciliation," and "humanitarianism and compassion," are the three pillars that support the bilateral relations between Taiwan and the Solomon Islands.
In late January of this year, I led a delegation from the Republic of China (Taiwan) on a state visit to the Solomon Islands, during which we were warmly received by Prime Minister Kemakeza and the people of the Solomon Islands. I not only became the first leader of this nation to visit our allies in the Pacific; I was also the very first Taiwan President to visit the Solomon Islands.
During my visit, your government convened a special parliamentary secession to invite me to deliver a speech in your parliament. You have also organized the grandest state banquet ever held in the history of the Solomon Islands to welcome us; I also learned that the welcoming procession was even rehearsed five times. The warm reception and gracious hospitality the government and people of the Solomon Islands have accorded my delegation and myself deeply touched all of us. And I am happy to say: this is Prime Minister Kemakeza's third visit to Taiwan in his capacity as the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Kemakeza, you were born in the same year as I, and we became parliamentarians in our respective countries in the same year. You are truly a good brother and a great friend to me.
I believe good friends should of course visit each other often. And we understand that only the most faithful and devoted friends, who are more like good brothers to us, would speak out for Taiwan and endeavor to help Taiwan in seeking our equitable rights and respect in the international community.
Prime Minister Kemakeza, I would like to take this opportunity to express my profound appreciation to you and to the government of the Solomon Islands for your longstanding support of Taiwan's efforts to participate in international organizations such as the United Nations, World Health Organization, Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), and the South Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO).
By personally attending the UN's General Assembly in September and speaking out in favor of our "UN representation proposal" and "Cross-Strait Peace proposal," Prime Minister Kemakeza, you are, as Taiwanese would often say, a true friend who has demonstrated both kindness and moral character.
Prime Minister, you are an eminent statesman in the South Pacific region. In nearly four years in office, you have made remarkable contributions to your country. In July 2003, by resolutely agreeing to have the Australian-led "Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI)" assist in the peacekeeping mission in your country, you have, in a sweeping move, ended the close to four years of ethnic crises in your country and restored constitutional rule of law for your people.
Furthermore, despite the four non-confidence motions raised during your term, you have successfully turned crises into opportunities, and engendered in your great country a democratic model of "peace" and "reconciliation," which I believe offers valuable lessons for Taiwan.
Since I assumed office as the president, I have always taken as my solemn mission to promote "permanent peace across the Strait" and "reconciliation among political parties and ethnic groups." Over the past five years, despite irrational obstruction against our key policy initiatives by some people in the opposition, we have never wavered in our commitment to the "six major reform priorities," unveiled earlier as my pledge to the people of Taiwan that we would strive to preserve social justice and equality.
In the face of China's military threat and belligerent rhetoric, my government is committed to strengthening our self-defense capabilities in order to ensure that Taiwan's democracy and prosperity would not be undermined; furthermore, we must continue to deepen democracy in Taiwan, with "comprehensive democratic reform" as our ultimate mission.
Peace and reconciliation are universal values shared by all democracies; they also represent the common beliefs upheld by both Prime Minister Kemakeza and myself.
Since Taiwan and the Solomon Islands established formal diplomatic ties 23 years ago, our two countries have always based our bilateral relations on the principle of creating "prosperous co-existence and mutually beneficial relations." And through our collective efforts, an array of exchange and cooperative projects have been successfully commenced; concrete results have also been achieved in the areas of agricultural technology, medical services, fisheries, education, cultural and personnel exchange. These results are the tangible realization of Taiwan's commitment to extend humanitarian compassion to our ally--the Solomon Islands.
The land of Taiwan is in the shape of a yam; coming from a grass-root background, I am, therefore, "the Son of Yam," figuratively speaking. All our good friends from the Solomon Islands, this I say to you: the heart of the Taiwan Yam is full of warmth, and its root deeply grabs on to the soil, just as the root of Taiwan's humanitarianism has already taken root in the land of the Solomon Islands.
Prime Minister Kemakeza, I appreciate you very much for leading a delegation to visit Taiwan amidst your busy schedule and I believe your visit is a testimony of your much cherished friendship for the Republic of China (Taiwan).
In the future, our government will continue to work hand in hand with the Solomon Islands to realize the noble aspirations we have for democracy and freedom and to create a better future for both our peoples and governments.
In closing, let us join in the toast to wish Prime Minister Kemakeza, Madam Kemakeza abundant health and happiness. I also wish you great success in next year's re-election! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you! Thank you!