Mayor Hsieh's Visit to Bangkok / 象相歡 泰國市政參訪暨外交之旅
Last year, the death of Kaohsiung City Shoushan Zoo's star elephant, Annie, cast a shadow over the public. However, in April of next year, Thailand will present a pair of elephants as a gift to Taiwan, in the hope that they will be our new favorites. This is one of the main reasons that Kaohsiung's Mayor Hsieh visited Thailand in December last year.
As Mayor Hsieh's arrival at Bangkok, he received an enthusiastic ovation from local overseas Chinese. The Vice Chairman for Committee on Science and Technology Charinrat presented him with a model of an elephant at the Rose Garden Hotel.
Liang-Pao Chou, who, upon learning of the death of Annie, initiated this exchange. He contacted the authorities in Thailand, and made it possible for the Committee on Science and Technology to present a pair of young elephants, aged 5 and 8 years old, to the Shoushan Zoo.
"Elephants are very precious animals," Mayor Hsieh said. "It is an honor for the people of Kaohsiung to receive a pair of young elephants as a gift, and we will cherish them." Mayor Hsieh hopes that this activity will strengthen the cooperation between Kaohsiung and Bangkok, and as a result, between Taiwan and Thailand as well.
The Director of Kaohsiung Affairs Bureau Wen-Liang Li pointed out that elephants are a protected species, and Thailand is an area with FMD. Because of this, after the Thai Congress gives consent, it will take another two months for the countries that do research on elephants with Thailand Life and Society Foundation to go through the transportation training and import processes. Therefore, two elephants will arrive at the Shoushan Zoo in April, at the earliest. The veterinarians who will accompany the elephants to Taiwan will take care of them for three months at the zoo.
The delegation also paid a visit to Bangkok Taiwan Center and Bangkok City Mayor Samak.
Bangkok Taiwan Center was established in 1946, and its members have increased from about 50 to 1,000. Not only, it has become the most important organization for overseas Chinese in Thailand, but serves as a bilateral political and economic bridge between Taiwan and Thailand. Bangkok Taiwan Center was built with funds from Taiwanese merchants, and is now the biggest Taiwan Center in the world. It has five stories, conference rooms, libraries, exhibiting rooms that display books related to Taiwan culture, and local art works.
Tainan Nankunshen Temple's Wangyeh, a deity whose worship was brought over to Thailand on November 7th, 1976. A new temple was built in 1991, and it has been an in-cense-choked religious center for the local overseas Chinese.
In the company of Madam Sujitra Lapteerawut, the leader of the overseas Chinese group, Mayor Hsieh met Samak. He has been an organizer of Thailand's political party, a Deputy Prime Minister, and returned to serving in local governments four years ago. He visited Taiwan and Kaohsiung thirty years ago. He exchanged views with Mayor Hsieh on the Special Trade Zone issues. "Thailand is now constructing highways," he said, "to transport products through Vietnam, to the Special Trade Zone, in order to save time." Mayor Hsieh also emphasized that Kaohsiung wishes to be accepted as a free port, so that relations between Taiwan and Thailand can move further ahead.