President Ma Ying-jeou on the evening of October 8 in the company of Vice President Vincent C. Siew at the Presidential Office held a state dinner in honor of Republic of Guatemala President Álvaro Colom Caballeros and a delegation that he has led on a state visit to Taiwan. At the beginning of the evening, President Ma presented President Colom with the Order of Brilliant Jade with Grand Cordon and Guatemala Minister of Foreign Affairs Roger Haroldo Rodas Melger with the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon in recognition of outstanding contributions made by President Colom and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rodas in promoting relations between the two countries.
The ceremony presenting the honors was held ahead of the state dinner. At the commencement of the ceremony, the protocol officer recited a statement indicating the reason for bestowing the honors. President Ma then placed the decorations on President Colom and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rodas, respectively, and then shook hands with each one. President Colom then presented President Ma with the Order of the Quetzal with Collar (La Orden del Quetzal en el Grado de Gran Collar) and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan with the Order of the Quetzal with Grand Cross (La Orden del Quetzal en el Grado de Gran Cruz). President Ma and President Colom both made remarks and toasts before the state dinner formally got underway.
In his remarks, President Ma said that he is much obliged to receive the highest honor presented by President Colom. He said that the Order of the Quetzal with Collar symbolizes freedom. Premier Liu is also deeply honored and full of gratitude for receiving the Order of the Quetzal with Grand Cross, he said. President Ma said that Guatemala's national bird is the quetzal. The bird instinctively seeks freedom. It would rather die of hunger than be constrained to a bird cage. This is the perfect description of the people of Guatemala, President Ma added, saying that they love freedom and defy authoritarianism. The president said it is a special honor for him and for Premier Liu to be recipients of these orders. In addition, he said this further represents the long-lasting friendship and alliance between the ROC and the Republic of Guatemala.
President Ma said that since taking office in January of this year, President Colom has made great efforts to build a strong state. He said President Colom has pushed ahead with social reform projects and initiatives to reduce the wealth gap. He has made moves to combat crime and to advocate democracy and freedom. His outstanding achievements display his leadership skills. In addition, the president said, President Colom puts great emphasis on the diplomatic relationship between Guatemala and the ROC. It is for these reasons that he bestowed the Order of Brilliant Jade with Grand Cordon on President Colom and the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon on Minister of Foreign Affairs Rodas, recognizing their outstanding contributions in promoting relations between the two countries.