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Carrying out the New South-bound Policy: Mayor Lai and University Presidents Share Fruitful Results from TNUA Southeast Asia Visit


In response to the central government’s New South-Bound Policy, Tainan City Mayor William Lai led the Tainan Universities Alliance (TNUA) delegation, which includes twelve university presidents, on a trip to Southeast Asia between March 4 and 11. The delegation visited several cities including Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and Jakarta in Indonesia. They called on a number of local Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce, Alumni Associations of Taiwan Universities, university alliances and government officials, and signed Memorandums of Cooperation between industries and academic institutions and on talent cultivation. Mayor Lai held a press conference today (Mar. 13) with TNUA delegates to share the fruitful results of the trip. 
Mayor Lai stated that Tainan city combined resources of Tainan city’s universities and established a university alliance. Educational exchanges and collaborations with Southeast Asian universities will benefit Tainan greatly, and these actions are also in concordance with President Tsai’s New South-Bound Policy. The Yizai Association in Tainan collected donations and set up the Tainan Scholarship as an incentive to attract more students from Southeast Asia to come and study in Tainan, and a short film produced by Tainan city government and TNUA to recruit students garnered much attention around the world. In addition, Mayor Lai noted that this trip not only brought about much success in terms of student recruitment and intercity exchanges, but also cultivated many friendly relations with the Muslim community as he felt a strong willingness to further interact with Taiwan from Muslim countries. Therefore, he is actively taking measures to make Tainan a Muslim-friendly city. This includes policies such as promoting halal certifications and increasing prayer rooms for Muslims in public spaces. Hopefully Tainan city will become one of the first choices for international Muslim students to study in. 
TNUA convener and National Cheng Kung University President Su Huey-jen said that universities in Tainan not only have superb quality, but also are unique in that they have diverse characteristics. The establishment of TNUA and concentrating resources from universities are a huge step forward. She pointed out that TNUA can lay down a complete talent export and cultivation plan within a few months to help alleviate the shortage of vocational talents and teachers in Southeast Asian universities. President Su continued to say that alliances between universities are not unusual; however, this is the first time such an alliance is integrated with city marketing and will create additional benefits for both parties. Through these promotional collaborations, foreign students will not only recognize Tainan as the “friendliest city” that is perfect to study in, but also the place to call home.
Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology President Tai Chein reaffirmed that this is indeed a groundbreaking visit. It is the first of its kind in Taiwan and is expected to yield top results. 
When journalists inquired about the goal of establishing TNUA, Mayor Lai replied that since education is one of the assets of Tainan City, setting up TNUA can unite strengths and resources of different academic institutions and achieve better results. He further remarked that the New South-Bound Policy is just the first step in TNUA’s operations, as the alliance will continue to extend its connections with other countries. The Mayor also pointed out that cultivating professionals for Taiwanese businesses located abroad through education would stimulate more economic opportunities and benefits.
According to Tainan city government, the visit proved to be fruitful. In terms of student recruitment and talent cultivation and exchange in Southeast Asian countries, TNUA signed nine Memorandums of Cooperation between industries and academic institutions to initiate multilateral exchanges and collaborations. These Memorandums include:
I.The Memorandums of Cooperation between industries and academic institutions with several Councils of Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce, including the councils in Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia with the goal to integrate Tainan’s university research and pedagogy resources, train and cultivate professional talents for overseas Taiwanese businesses, and create a win-win solution for both industries and universities. 
II.The Memorandums of Cooperation on talent exchange and cultivation with Alumni Associations of Taiwan Universities in Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia to actively carry out the Taiwan universities’ alumni talent cultivation plan and attract more students to study and live in Tainan. 
II.The Memorandum of Cooperation with United Chinese School Committees' Association of Malaysia. TNUA will assist in training teachers for Chinese schools, and both parties will jointly organize camps for students to help teachers and students of these Chinese schools to learn more about Tainan city and encourage them to study in Tainan. 
IV.The Memorandum of Cooperation on student recruitment with Muhammadiyah Universities, and the Memorandum of Cooperation on pedagogy with Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) in Indonesia to encourage academic collaborations between students and professors from the respective universities.
In terms of intercity exchanges, Mayor Lai visited important officials in Malaysia and Indonesia during the trip. Both parties shared experiences on how collaborations between industries and cities can stimulate economic growth, and looked forward to more opportunities to cooperate in the future. Chief Minister of Selangor Dato' Seri Mohamed Azmin bin Ali and Senior Executive Councilor Dato' Teng Chang Khim both witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation between orchid industries in the two areas. In the future, orchids produced through quality agriculture in Taiwan would be promoted to Malaysia.
In terms of cultural exchange, Mayor William Lai gifted Tan Sri Datuk Ng Teck Fong, alumni of National Cheng Kung University and Selangor State and Kuala Lumpur Confucius Education Institute Chair, with the photography art piece “The First School in Taiwan at the Break of Dawn”. The Institute is planning to set up a Confucius Temple Memorial Park in Kuala Lumpur to promote Ruism studies and culture. As Mayor Lai is also the Chairman of Tainan City Confucius Temple Foundation, he expressed that he will fully support Tan Sri Datuk Ng Teck Fong in building the memorial park and spreading the spirit of Tainan Confucius Temple, the first school in Taiwan, to Malaysia.
Tainan city government will continue to collaborate with TNUA, starting by setting up a unified entry website which will provide links to the websites of Taiwan Chambers of Commerce, Alumni Associations of Taiwan Universities, United Chinese School Committees' Association of Malaysia, and various international university alliances in Southeast Asian countries. The entry website will serve as a platform from which users can get information on higher education in Tainan, international exchanges, and intern opportunities in Taiwanese businesses. TNUA will also organize camps in different subjects for overseas Chinese and international students to help them learn more about Tainan.  
The current convener of TNUA is Su Huey-jen, President of National Cheng Kung University. The twelve university presidents who joined Mayor Lai on this trip are: President of National Cheng Kung University Su Huey-jen, Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology President Tai Chein, Chang Jung Christian University President Lee Yung-lung, Tainan National University of The Arts President Jan Gene-eu, National University of Tainan President Huang Tzung-hsien, Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology President Tseng Hsing-chao, University of Kang Ning President Huang Yi-chun, Tainan University of Technology President Lin Pin-chang, Taiwan Shoufu University President Hsu Kuang-hua, Far East University Executive Vice President Yang Chang-yu, Kun Shan University Vice President Lee Tien-shang, and Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science Vice President Chen Chien-min.