MARSHALLS PARLIAMENT TO RECEIVE TAIWAN PRESIDENT

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By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, April 22) – The Marshall Islands parliament will convene a special one-day session to hear a speech from Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, who will spend two nights in this central Pacific nation in early May.

Chen is scheduled to speak to the parliament on Monday, May 2 — a national holiday marking the 26th anniversary of constitutional government — before proceeding to participate in festivities marking the constitution day event.

He is scheduled to arrive in Majuro about 7:30 p.m. Sunday May 1, and will be hosted by Marshall Islands President Kessai Note at a state banquet that same night. Chen will be welcomed by a special presentation of the rarely seen Jobwa stick dancers who are flying in from the remote atoll of Ujae just for the performance. This dance group, considered the most traditional of all modern day dance and music groups in the Marshall Islands, only performs on special occasions at the direction of paramount chief Michael Kabua.

In addition to the dance performance, a major fireworks display that will be featured. Taiwan purse seiner operate Koo’s Fishing Co. is sponsoring the fireworks.

Besides speaking to the parliament, Chen will spend Monday May 2 opening a Taiwan product show and Marshallese handicraft display a local company owned by a Taiwanese.

From there, Chen and Marshall Islands President Kessai Note will head for a more watery experience, with the opening of the first President’s Cup outrigger canoe race, followed by a canoe ride for both presidents.

The estimated 140-member Taiwan delegation then will take off early Tuesday May 3 for Kiribati, which is several hundred miles south of the Marshall Islands, where they will overnight.

Early Wednesday morning, Chen, traveling on smaller planes that can land on the unpaved international runway at Tuvalu, will head to Funafuti for the day.

But because the lack of lights at the Kiribati airport, they will only spend a few hours in Tuvalu, since they have to be back in Tarawa well before nightfall to reboard the president’s jet for the return flight home to Taiwan, according to officials in Majuro.

April 22, 2005

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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