Tsai sets 2 tasks for overseas Taiwanese

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen addresses the public during an inauguration ceremony in Taipei.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen addresses the public during an inauguration ceremony in Taipei. PHOTO: REUTERS

New President's request: Be ambassadors, and help globalise Taiwan and make it 'first-class'

Taiwan's new President Tsai Ing-wen has roped in Taiwanese living overseas to help her with two tasks to boost the island's image in the world.

First, she wants them to help globalise Taiwan and make it "first-class".

Second, she wants to encourage citizen diplomacy, getting overseas Taiwanese to play ambassadors because "Taiwan's diplomacy is facing many challenges".

"Besides the government's efforts to establish diplomatic ties with other countries, I hope that every Taiwanese overseas can be an ambassador, in the fields of the economy, culture and technology and others. Let the world see Taiwan's rich diversity," Ms Tsai said yesterday at a tea reception to commemorate her inauguration.

The event was organised by the Overseas Community Affairs Council for Taiwanese who returned to the island to attend the inauguration of Ms Tsai and Vice-President Chen Chien-jen.

Earlier in the day, Ms Tsai met President Tommy Remengesau of Palau, one of the few countries in the world that still retain diplomatic ties with Taipei.

Yesterday's call to action was similar to what Ms Tsai said during her inauguration speech after she was sworn into office last Friday, when she urged the Taiwanese people to work together with her towards changing the island's future.

While much of the attention of Ms Tsai's inaugural speech was on how she would conduct cross-strait ties, many Taiwanese also zoomed in on the new leader's plans for boosting the stagnant economy, pushing for pension reforms and pursuing societal fairness.

"Beyond the nice words, she also gave some details and timelines, though convincing the retirees about cutting pensions is going to be difficult and restructuring the economy will take some time," said pharmacist Su Jen-chien, 63, who was at the inauguration ceremony.

Two polls released yesterday showed largely positive reactions to Ms Tsai's speech.

Taiwanese newspaper China Times found that Ms Tsai enjoyed a 53 per cent satisfaction rating, with six in 10 respondents saying they were confident of how the Tsai administration would run the country.

In another poll by broadcaster SET News Channel, 59 per cent said they were confident of the management of government affairs.

A good part of Mr Tsai's 30-minute inauguration speech was on reforms to boost a moribund economy, improve the social safety net and better prepare Taiwan's youth for the future.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 22, 2016, with the headline 'Tsai sets 2 tasks for overseas Taiwanese'. Print Edition | Subscribe