President Ma Ying-jeou met on the afternoon of November 19 with a delegation from Sao Tome and Principe led by that nation's Prime Minister Gabriel Arcanjo Ferreira da Costa and Mrs. da Costa. In addition to welcoming the group to Taiwan, the president called for continued strengthening of bilateral cooperation and a lasting alliance between the two countries.
In remarks, President Ma first stated that he had just received the credentials of Sao Tome and Principe's new Ambassador to the ROC Antonio Quintas do Espirito Santo that same morning, and now in the afternoon was welcoming Prime Minister and Mrs. Arcanjo Ferreira da Costa, making this day "Sao Tome and Principe Day."
President Ma commented that Prime Minister Gabriel Costa is a distinguished lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He previously served in his nation's parliament, was a legal and political advisor to the president of Sao Tome and Principe, and was his nation's advisor to the Office of the United Nations Development Programme. In addition, the president noted, Prime Minister Gabriel Costa previously served as ambassador to Portugal, Spain, and Morocco. He has a lot of experience and a strong background, making him a trusted confidant of President Manuel Pinto da Costa, said President Ma.
The president further stated that Prime Minister Gabriel Costa is being accompanied on this visit by Minister of Foreign Affairs Natalia Pedro da Costa Umbelina Neto, Principe Provincial Governor Jose Cardoso dos Ramos Cassandra, and other important political leaders from the ruling and opposition parties, including Jorge Amado, a former ambassador to the ROC and presently the chairman of the Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe-Social Democratic Party (MLSTP-PSD). President Ma said this shows the high-level nature of this delegation, and the fact that it includes individuals from various political affiliations attests to the importance that Sao Tome and Principe places on relations with the ROC.
The president reiterated that Sao Tome and Principe and the ROC established diplomatic relations in May 1997 and since then have actively promoted cooperation projects in many fields. Particular success has been seen in malaria prevention, President Ma said. He explained that malaria had a significant impact years ago on the health of Sao Tome and Principe's population, so the ROC dispatched malaria expert Dr. Jih-Ching Lien (連日清) to help prevent the spread of the disease. The president noted that Ambassador Quintas do Espirito Santo had mentioned in the morning that malaria has almost been eradicated in Sao Tome and Principe. The World Health Organization has recognized the achievements in this regard, which the president said he is extremely pleased to see.
President Ma also commented that Dr. Lien, who is affectionately called "Mr. Mosquito," once spoke with him about his work to eradicate malaria in Sao Tome and Principe. Dr. Lien tested different species of malaria-carrying mosquitoes and even let them bite his two hands to observe the results. This, the president said, helped Dr. Lien design a malaria prevention plan. President Ma stated that he is very proud that Dr. Lien has been able to help develop and carry out a malaria eradication plan for Sao Tome and Principe.
The president mentioned that he visited Africa last year but did not have an opportunity to visit Sao Tome and Principe as President Pinto da Costa was out of the country at the time. The president also noted that accompanying him on his African trip was Chairman of Taipei Medical University Tsu-Der Lee (李祖德), who mentioned his hope to establish a Taiwan Medicine and Public Health Center in Africa. President Ma said it has been decided to establish the center in Sao Tome and Principe, adding that he is confident that this initiative will significantly improve health care and public health projects there.
Lastly, President Ma encouraged the visitors to get a better understanding of Taiwan during this trip, which would make it easier to identify cooperation projects and thus move the bilateral relationship forward.