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By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Dec. 13) – The Taiwan government formally established an Austronesian Forum Headquarters in Palau last week.

State Minister Temmy Shmull and Taiwan Minister for Council of the Indigenous Peoples Icyang Parod Executive Yuan signed the Memorandum of Understanding that will officially pave the way for the creation of the headquarters.

[PIR editor’s note: According to Wikipedia, the first Austronesian speakers are believed to have originated on the island of Taiwan following the migration of a group, or groups, of Pre-Austronesian speaking peoples from continental Asia approximately 10,000 to 6,000 B.C. Due to a lengthy split from the Pre-Austronesian populations, the Proto-Austronesian language and cultures emerged on Taiwan]

Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the Austronesian Forum is an autonomous regional organization established to bring the Austronesian communities of the Pacific region together to promote democracy, good governance, human rights and sustainable development.

Taiwan is establishing a permanent office in Palau and the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding identifies the collaboration efforts between Palau, Taiwan and other five allied countries; Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu.

"The exchange and promotion of friendship and development cooperation are important to foster and strengthen diplomatic ties with Taiwan and other allied friends," Shmull said.

Shmull said that the Austronesian Forum is an "independent regional organization with the goal to promote democracy, good governance, human rights and sustainable development."

Taiwan ambassador Matthew Lee said that the establishment of the Austronesian Forum is the result of the conclusion reached during the first and second "Taiwan-Pacific Allied Country Summit," held in 2006 and 2007.

Lee said Minister Parod is from the indigenous tribe of Amis, one of the 13 indigenous tribes in Taiwan.

"In an effort to put his concern into action, he came here to personally explore a place suitable to be the Forum’s headquarter," Lee said.

President Remengesau said that Palau was chosen as the forum’s headquarters due to the country’s preservation of its culture.

He said that the office would be temporarily housed at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center until a permanent office is found.

According to the forum charter, its goals are to hold academic conferences and deepen exchange and cooperation among academic institutions; hold education and human resources development training and promote exchange and cooperation among Austronesian communities.

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