Citing the improvement of Taiwan's competitiveness as his foremost goal, Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), the new head of the National Science Council (國科會), vowed to accelerate the country's science and technology industry by increasing international collaboration and cultivating new talent.
"Currently, Taiwan is still one of the Asian Four Tigers," Chen said in his inaugural speech.
"However, if we maintain the same growth rate, other countries such as South Korea and China will soon catch up or even surpass us within a few short years."
To deal with this possibility, he encouraged industrialists and technological companies to "plant their feet in Taiwan, but set their sights on the world."
"We need to work with the cream of the crop from various fields of science, no matter which country they originate from. The formula for success is to be open-minded to other people's ideas," said Chen.
"We should not be overly concerned that the bulk of the production industry will relocate to China in the next five to ten years. If this is our worry, then that means we will become stagnant in the near future," he said.
Chen said in a knowledge-based economy, Taiwan must concentrate its efforts on creating more innovative state-of-the-art technology in order to remain competitive with the rest of the world.
"We must strengthen our existing technology, especially in the realm of bio-med, in order to attract more foreign investors," he said.
Chen also suggested that one of the best ways to jump start international cooperation is to first bridge the gaps between various governmental agencies locally.
"For example, we plan to work with the Department of Health on a strategy to persuade foreign pharmaceutical companies to set up production plants in Taiwan," he disclosed.
He added that he had already communicated his suggestions to the head of the Ministry of Economic Affairs who has placed Taiwan's technological capabilities at the top of her agenda for the next term.
Prior to his appointment to the NSC, Chen, 55, had held many other Cabinet-level positions such as DOH minister and deputy-minister. He also served as deputy director of the NSC's Division of Biotechnology Development.
With a doctorate in epidemiology from Johns Hopkin University and a master's degree in public health from National Taiwan University, Chen has gained respect internationally as one of the world's most prominent experts on infectious diseases.
He further solidified his place in the field of medicinal science with the vital role he played in coordinating the SARS taskforce in Taiwan in 2002.
Besides his numerous contributions to the country as a scientist, Chen also made significant achievements during his tenure as a professor in the graduate department of epidemiology at NTU.
Chen promised that in addition to sharpening Taiwan's competitive edge in the global community, he will also strive to cultivate more scientific talent in Taiwan by generating educational research opportunities for students and professors.
He said that beyond the "Taiwan Elite Study Abroad Program" created by the former NSC head, Wu Mou-kun, he will tack on other satellite programs to promote science learning among the people of the island.
"In my view, the mission of the NSC is to provide fertile soil for the industry," he said. "The industry can then plant seeds. With time and diligent effort, everybody can enjoy a bountiful harvest."
Likening the country's technological development to a piece of good music made possible by composers and instrumentalists, Chen said it requires the combined efforts of many people, including government officials and scientists.
He promised that no matter what position he holds, now or in the future, he would always dedicate himself to the scientific and technological advancement of the country.
"I am overwhelmed by this honorable appointment," he said. I promise to carry on all the innovative projects started by my predecessors and initiate more beneficial programs in the future.