The President, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, Commander–In–Chief of The Gambia Armed Forces and Minister of Defence Tuesday received in audience the Minister of National Defence of the Republic of Taiwan, His Excellency Hua-Chu Kao. Minister Kao arrived in The Gambia with a high powered delegation including Deputy Commander of Airborne Training Centre and Cheng–Hong Sheu, Deputy Director of African Affairs at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Taiwan and were accompanied to State House by the Taiwanese Ambassador to The Gambia, His Excellency Richard Shih.
In his welcome remarks, President Jammeh welcomed the delegation and conveyed sincere gratitude on behalf of his government and people to his brother and friend, His Excellency President Ma Ying–jeou of the Republic of Taiwan. He said he was very happy that the first person who was sent to the so called unchartered territory, The Gambia, way back in 1995 is today with them to give testimony to what has happened. He noted that they are neither politicians nor diplomats and that is why they were confronted by some people but they have to make justice and the truth prevailed.
President Jammeh reiterated that it is unfortunate that in this world, many people don't want the truth but only want things that please them much to the detriment of humanity. He pointed out that it is not easy to talk about Taiwan in an international forum because what people think is that they are giving us money, but the fact is that they are ready to pay any price to defend that country and justice must be done. "We have a principle that money cannot buy and if it was a question of money, I don't think we would have been with you all these years. I remember coming to Taiwan and made it very clear that The Gambia would be the last country to abandon you", President Jammeh reaffirmed.
He told the delegation that the relation of the two countries is an example of true friendship through South–South cooperation that is based on mutual respect and trust. He added that the presence of the Defence Minister is a clear testimony of the strength of the relation and the high level of trust and confidence.
President Jammeh reiterated that our relation with Taiwan is not based on money. "I am against checklist diplomacy and I always tell people that I will not sell myself twice, because if I recognize you because of money it means I have already sold myself to you. We will rather eat grass rather than sell our dignity. We are not for sale", President Jammeh said.
With regards to the bilateral relation, President Jammeh noted that he is satisfied with what is going on and assured that The Gambia is a true friend of Taiwan and they will always do what they are supposed to do."We will stand by your side and defend you", President Jammeh told the Taiwanese delegation.
The Minister of National Defence of Taiwan, His Excellency Hua-Chu Kao, said he was indeed honoured for being granted an audience to meet President Jammeh. He added that his President conveyed sincere gratitude to His Excellency President Jammeh. Minister Kao further informed the Gambian leader that President Ma Ying–jeou told him that Taiwan and The Gambia are brothers and sisters featuring the mutual understanding between them. He underscored The Gambia's efforts in contributing to ease the plight of disaster victims in Taiwan noting that The Gambia was the number one contributor.
The Defense Minister further informed the President that he was given the opportunity to visit the Ministry of Fisheries and Chief of Defense Staff, where they had comprehensive discussions and exchanged views on the bilateral cooperation which they will review when he returns to Taiwan.
He also informed the Gambian leader that Gambian students studying various fields in Taiwan are doing well in their various fields of study and he is very proud of them. "I congratulate them," he said.
He noted that he was very impressed with the people he met shortly after his arrival in the country, particularly the military whom he described as disciplined soldiers. This, he said, was why the President of Taiwan told him that The Gambia is an exemplary country in the sub region in terms of peace and stability. "If other countries emulate The Gambia then there is no doubt the African continent will move ahead," Minister Kao observed.
He used the occasion to thank His Excellency President Jammeh for making The Gambia a paradise. He assured the President that they will do their best to make sure all cooperation projects in future are effectively implemented for the mutual benefit of the two nations.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Massaneh Kinteh, highlighted that in June this year he visited Taiwan and was given the opportunity to meet with the Minister of National Defence and also visited many security facilities.
He also pointed out that the visiting Taiwanese Defence Minister visited his office and they discussed issues pertaining to capacity building of military staff and other projects being implemented by the Taiwanese. The CDS further stated that he was gratified to note that the boats provided by Taiwan to The Gambia Navy will enhance the execution of their duties especially this time with the emergence of various organised maritime criminal activities. He cited examples of illegal migration, terrorism and piracy among others.
He also disclosed that the establishment of a Military Academy in The Gambia will pave the way for capacity-building of soldiers and drastically reduce the cost of oversees training.
The Minister of the Interior, Ousman Sonko, mentioned that since 1994, The Gambia has benefited a lot from Taiwan. He reiterated CDS Kinteh's position on the crucial role the patrol boats play in addressing issues related to traditional naval duties and emerging issues such as illegal migration via the sea, drug peddling and so on. He also thanked Taiwan for the training opportunities accorded to personnel of the various security outfits in The Gambia.
Other speakers included the Ministers of fisheries and Economic Planning and Industrial Development, and Taiwanese Ambassador to The Gambia, Richard Shih.
The ceremony was chaired by Harry Sambou, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defense and was attended by Cabinet Ministers and Service Chiefs.
By Alhaji Ceesay, courtesy of Department of Information Services