President Ma Ying-jeou on the afternoon of October 23 received credentials from Frederick H. Muller, the new Ambassador to the ROC from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, in a ceremony at the Presidential Office Building. The president offered an enthusiastic welcome to Ambassador Muller on taking up his post in the ROC, and called for continued strengthening of bilateral cooperation.
In remarks, the president stated that Ambassador Muller took up his new post here on August 25. Having started his career as a public servant at the local level, Ambassador Muller had served as heads of various administrative agencies in the Marshall Islands, a member of parliament, and his nation's ambassador to Fiji. Ambassador Muller, the president said, is a distinguished politician and diplomat.
President Ma remarked that the ROC and the Marshall Islands established diplomatic relations on November 20, 1998, at which time that nation's Minister of Foreign Affairs Philip Muller signed a communique with his ROC counterpart cementing the alliance. What is particularly interesting is that then Foreign Minister Muller happens to be Ambassador Muller's uncle. This makes Ambassador Muller's appointment to the ROC all the more meaningful, and the president said he is confident that the two nations will continue to expand their cooperative relationship.
President Ma said that since taking office in 2008, his administration has promoted a foreign assistance policy wherein the purpose must be legitimate, the process must be lawful, and the implementation must be effective. The ROC's cooperative relations with its allies have thus become increasingly close and solid, he said. In the area of cultivating human resources, the ROC each year provides Taiwan Scholarships and Huayu Enrichment Scholarships (from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to citizens of diplomatic allies. Responding to the needs of the Marshall Islands in training more individuals, the ROC this year has increased the number of Taiwan Scholarships to outstanding students from that nation from three to five. In addition, on October 6, five young leaders from the Marshall Islands came to Taiwan for a four-week study workshop under the Pacific Islands Leadership Program, creating an even stronger foundation for bilateral interaction, he said.
President Ma then noted that the ROC became aware that most of the medical assistance provided to the Marshall Islands was short-term in nature and unable to completely satisfy their needs. The ROC government two years ago founded the School of Medicine for International Students at southern Taiwan's I-Shou University with the hope of aiding diplomatic allies in training medical personnel. In 2013, only one student from the Marshall Islands matriculated, but two students from that nation were admitted into the program both last year and this year. Consequently, five students from the Marshall Islands are currently studying medicine in the program, and the president said the ROC hopes that these students, upon returning home, will cooperate with the medical missions dispatched by the ROC. In light of the large number of people in Pacific island nations that contract diabetes and cataracts, the ROC is also introducing programs to boost nutritional intake and offer various medical therapies to help patients get better, the president said.
President Ma also stated that the ROC and the Marshall Islands began jointly promoting a clean energy project in 2010. Under that project, the ROC provides its ally with solar-powered streetlights, computer learning systems, and solar-powered lighting equipment for basketball courts on off-shore atolls, hoping to share its successful solar power experience and use the Marshall Islands' abundant sunshine to increase renewable energy usage.
The president went on to say that the Marshall Islands has long supported the ROC's participation in international organizations and activities. For example, at this year's General Debate of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Marshall Islands President Christopher J. Loeak expressed public support for the ROC's meaningful participation in the World Health Assembly, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Foreign Affairs Minister Tony de Brum also urged the international community to include the ROC in the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda and applauded Taiwan's efforts in reducing tension between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. The government and people of the ROC will always remember these gestures, said President Ma.
The president stressed that the diplomatic relationship between the ROC and the Marshall Islands spans 17 years and achievements in bilateral cooperation have been hard-won. He then called for continued strengthening of bilateral cooperation and friendship.
Among those witnessing the ceremony were Secretary-General to the President Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruce J. D. Linghu (令狐榮達), and Deputy Chief of Mission Noda Lojkar.