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President visits philanthropic veggie vendor Chen Shu-chu

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday paid a visit to famous philanthropic vegetable vendor Chen Shu-chu (陳樹菊) in Pingtung County, Eastern Taiwan, wishing her good health and fortune in the coming Year of the Snake.

Ma visited Chen, who was named by Time Magazine as one of the world's most influential people in 2010 and won the 2012 Ramon Magsaysay Award, known as Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Prize, in the company of Taitung County Magistrate Huang Jian-ting and Taitung City Mayor Chen Chian-ge.

During the meeting, Ma showed his concern about the philanthropic vegetable vendor's disorder in her left leg, as she underwent a surgery for varicose veins in June 2010.

Ma also gave away a box of chocolate, fruit gift box, a watch and a scarf to Chen, and paid her NT$1,000 for NT$200 worth of vegetables.

Chen tried hard to return the change to Ma, but Ma asked her to keep the change. In response, Chen said she would donate the NT$1,000 to charity.

Ma extolled Chen for her philanthropic deeds over the past decades, saying that she has set a very good example for people in Taiwan.

Earning a modest living by selling vegetables, Chen has managed to donate more than NT$10 million (US$332,000) over the years to help launch a children's fund, build a school library and an orphanage, and give regular financial support to three children and other charities.

Just one day earlier, Ma reserved NT$20,000 worth of vegetables from Chen and sent them yesterday to the Taiping Home for Retired Veterans in the eastern county of Taitung.

Ma relayed his new year greetings to veterans in the Home and had a lunch with them. An 83-year-old veteran named Chen Xia-ling told Ma that he has donated a fixed amount of money to disadvantaged people per month, and has made a will to donate his body to a hospital after his death.

In response, Ma said that the philanthropic deeds by retired veterans are really quite great and touching. The president also gave Chen Xia-ling a commemorative watch in honor of his good deeds.

Also yesterday, Ma called on the Taitung branch of Mackay Memorial Hospital and toured a new medical building under construction.

Ma lamented that he has owed Taitung County too much, while the eastern county still lags behind in transportation construction and medical resources.

He said eastern Taiwan has much room for further development in terms of infrastructure and development, adding that the government will do its best to give a helping hand in these regards.

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President Ma Ying-jeou, right, gives a scarf to philanthropic vegetable vendor Chen Shu-chu, center, while visiting Chen in the company of Taitung Magistrate Huang Jian-ting, left, yesterday. (CNA)

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