President wishes for 'happy Taiwan'

Taipei, Jan. 1 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou wished for a "peaceful, prosperous and happy" year ahead for the Republic of China (Taiwan) Tuesday during the country's official 2013 New Year's Day flag-raising ceremony. The event, which took place at daybreak at the Presidential Office plaza, attracted a big crowd despite low temperatures. As part of the ceremony, two hot air balloons were released into the sky carrying banners written with the New Year blessings "strong and prosperous nation" and "Taiwan up." Ma said the balloons were flying the dreams of the entire nation and the commitment of the government. He expressed strong confidence in Taiwan's competitiveness, the people's wisdom and the country's economic prospects, and promised that the government will stick to its ideals to build a "happy Taiwan" despite temporary setbacks. "I believe our happiness index and economic growth will fly up and up just like the hot air balloons," he said. This year's ceremony featured the tug-of-war team from Taipei Jingmei Girls High School leading the singing of the national anthem. The marching bands of the ROC military and Taipei First Girls High School also performed at the ceremony. (By Angela Tsai and Y.F. Low)