Hundreds attend Taipei flag-raising ceremony
January 2, 2014, 12:14 am TWN
TAIPEI -- Hundreds of people attended a flag-raising ceremony in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei early yesterday, ushering in the new year by showing their respect for their country.
Even before dawn brought light to the first day of 2014, people flocked to the plaza outside the Presidential Office to participate in the ceremony, which was attended by President Ma Ying-jeou, Vice President Wu Den-yih and other senior officials.
One highlight of the ceremony was a 10-minute performance by the Ministry of National Defense Symphony Orchestra and members of the Armed Forces Honor Guard.
The ceremonial guardsmen showed off their rifle spinning and throwing skills, accompanied by marching songs performed by the orchestra.
They also lined up in various formations, including the number “103” — because 2014 is the 103rd year of the Republic of China, the official name used by Taiwan.
The high point of the ceremony was the singing of the ROC national anthem and the raising of the national flag high above the Presidential Office as the national flag song was performed.
Those in the crowd then waved small national flags to celebrate
the start of a new year.
In his brief remarks at the ceremony, Ma said the country would face many challenges in the coming year, but he believed that the nation would be able to overcome them through the concerted effort of the people of Taiwan.
He also noted that 1.16 million people participated in the New Year's countdown party outside Taipei City Hall on Tuesday night and that Taiwan welcomed its 8 millionth foreign visitor in 2013 earlier in the day.
“This is a sign of prosperity,” he said. “This shows that Taiwan is becoming more and more international.”
Also attending the ceremony were Foreign Minister David Lin and Defense Minister Yen Ming.
Asked whether Ma will attend the inauguration ceremony of Honduran president-elect Juan Hernandez slated for late January, Lin said a public announcement of the president's schedule will be made once the itinerary is finalized.
Yen said one of his New Year's resolutions is for Taiwan to make a successful transition to an all-volunteer force.
The transition has proved challenging for the military to date because recruitment has fallen well short of targets, prompting the Cabinet to approve a plan to raise allowances for military personnel and give young people more incentive to pursue a military career.
Under the plan, which took effect on Wednesday, allowances for volunteer soldiers and non-commissioned officers will be increased by between NT$2,000 (US$66.60) and NT$4,000 per month.