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Ex-Dutch envoy has Taiwan on his mind

TAIPEI--Visiting former Dutch diplomat Menno Goehdart confirmed yesterday that although he had left Tainan to settle down in France, Taiwan is always on his mind.

Pointing out that it is an Internet world, Goehdart said he does not feel as if he has left Taiwan because he can easily keep abreast of the country's affairs through online connections.

Goehdart, dubbed “Mr. Taiwan” or “the most Taiwanese ambassador” for his familiarity and love of Taiwan, said he will return frequently as Tainan is another of his homes and his motorbike is still there.

Goehdart returned to Taiwan this time to co-launch a CD titled “Siraya, Where Did You Go?” with Edgar Macapili, a Philippine conductor who is married to a Taiwanese woman and now based in Taiwan.

The 12 songs on the CD were written in the Siraya language, English, Chinese and Taiwanese by Goehdart and composed by Macapili.

Siraya is one of the aboriginal tribes in Taiwan, and people from the tribe mainly live in Tainan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung in southern Taiwan and Hualien and Taitung in Eastern Taiwan.

The former diplomat expressed the hope that the CD will lead people to pay more attention to Siraya culture, saying that the most important part of Taiwan is its aboriginal culture.

Goehdart, who served as the head of the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office in Taiwan for eight years, moved to Tainan after his retirement in August 2010.

However, recent reports said Goehdart had quietly left Taiwan, causing some concern among the diplomatic circles in Taipei.

Goedhart was known to be keen on tracing the footprints of his ancestors, who ruled over the Tainan area and other parts of Taiwan from 1624 and 1662. During that period, some Dutch citizens married local aborigines, mostly from the Rukai tribe.

In 2009, Goedhart visited Pingtung County's Wutai Township along with nearly 40 Dutch people residing in Taiwan, leading them to meet the descendants of the mixed marriages.

Because of his close friendship with the tribe, Goedhart was even made an honorary chieftain under the name Ama Daganau.

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Former Dutch diplomat Menno Goehdart, right, sings with Taiwan-based Filipino conductor Edgar Macapili at a press event for their collaborative album “Siraya, Where Did You Go?” at Tainan City Hall, yesterday. The proceeds from the album will be used to fund the restoration of Siraya culture. (CNA)

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