President Ma Ying-jeou attended a ceremony on the afternoon of May 11 to mark the Japanese Red Cross Society's award of a gold medal to National Policy Advisor Chao Tsai Hsueh-ni (蔡雪泥). The president also congratulated Ms. Tsai for being decorated by the Japanese government with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette. The president said these two awards are in recognition of the longstanding efforts and outstanding contributions by Ms. Tsai in the area of social welfare and in promoting exchanges between Taiwan and Japan.
In remarks, the president stated that he and Ms. Tsai have known each other for over 20 years and that Ms. Tsai has long been involved in education work. In 1978, she introduced the Kumon education method from Japan and subsequently founded the Kon Wen Cultural Enterprise Co., Ltd. to emphasize the philosophy of individualized instruction. To date, over 500,000 families here have benefited from this method. In addition, the president noted that when he was running for Taipei City mayor in 1998, he issued the Taipei City White Paper on Education Policy at Kon Wen Cultural Enterprise.
President Ma commented that Ms. Tsai has not only dedicated herself to education and culture, but is also committed to social welfare. Over the years, she has donated ambulances and 10 buses for the disabled to the Taipei City government and hospitals throughout Taiwan. During the SARS epidemic, Ms. Tsai also donated large numbers of surgeon's masks to help address the problem of insufficient medical resources. He pointed out that she also donated to the Tsai Hsueh-ni Public Service and Charitable Foundation 12 dwellings to assist schoolchildren from underprivileged households.
President Ma stated that Ms. Tsai's compassion and good deeds are in evidence throughout Taiwan and even all the way to Japan's Ryukyu Islands. She has been instrumental in promoting friendship between Taiwan and Okinawa, he said. In 2004, Ms. Tsai was honored as the First Private Ambassador for Life by Okinawa, and in early May of this year she was decorated with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette by the Japanese government. This made Ms. Tsai the first woman from Taiwan to win this honor since 2003. In addition, Japanese Empress Michiko on May 8 bestowed the Red Cross of Japan's Gold Medal on Ms. Tsai, the president noted, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to public welfare.
Besides Ms. Tsai's dedication to public welfare, the president stated that the ROC (Taiwan) is a compassionate country itself. He explained that in the past when major disasters occurred throughout the world, Taiwan has traditionally been involved in rescue and relief work. For instance, in 2004 when a huge earthquake off the coast of Indonesia triggered a tsunami that swept through South Asia, Taiwan donated US$50 million to the relief effort, making the nation the 10th most generous donor in the world. In addition, Taiwan also made generous donations after the devastating Sichuan earthquake, flooding in Australia, and a disastrous earthquake in Haiti. Last year, he said, after the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, Taiwan's private sector collectively raised about 20 billion yen (approximately NT$6.6 billion) within two months, compared with a total of 15.7 billion yen in donations provided in aggregate by 93 other countries. The generosity of Taiwan has earned the deep gratitude of the people of Japan, he said.
President Ma stated that the people of Taiwan embrace the core Chinese values of honesty, kindness, diligence, integrity, tolerance, and enterprising spirit. As a result, the entire world can see the importance of Taiwan's existence. For example, 8% of Taiwan's population gives blood, which is a level that no other nation has reached. In addition, the people of Taiwan provide financial sponsorship to 316,000 underprivileged children, some 210,000 of whom are overseas – a number which is equivalent to 1% of Taiwan's own population. This highlights the tremendous compassion of the people here. President Ma said he hopes that the people of Taiwan will continue to demonstrate the fundamental values of Chinese culture and share these values with the rest of the world.
The president remarked that noted mainland Chinese writer Han Han (韓寒) recently visited Taiwan to take part in a forum in which participants from both sides discussed the peace dividend that has resulted from warming cross-strait relations. Han remarked that he sensed the sincerity and goodwill of the people here during his visit, and after his return to the mainland he praised these virtues of the Taiwan people on his blog. Han also stressed how surprised he was when he expressed appreciation to a taxi driver who returned a cell phone that he had accidentally left in the cab, the driver simply replied, “Think nothing of it.”
In addition to National Policy Advisor Chao Tsai, others attending the ceremonies included Presidential Senior Advisor Dr. Cecilia Y. Koo (辜嚴倬雲), Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), and Sumio Tarui, Chief Representative of the Japan Interchange Association Taipei Office.