Former President Ma Ying-jeou (???) left Taiwan for Malaysia on Tuesday for a four-day trip, his first overseas visit since leaving office on May 20.
Speaking at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport before departing, Ma dismissed as "outrageous" reports that his Malaysian visit was being made to help promote China's "Belt and Road" initiative, as has been reported by a local newspaper .
The "Belt and Road" initiative represents an attempt by Beijing to project China's economic influence into southeast, south and central Asia and bolster its own economy, and it combines the "the Silk Road Economic Belt" and the "21st-Century Maritime Silk Road."
He said that after people hear his speech on Thursday, they will know what it covers, and he has asked the newspaper that has published what he called the "misinformation" to admit its mistake and apologize then.
Ma is making the visit at the invitation of Southern University College and the 8th World Chinese Economic Summit.
He said the invitation letters and promotional materials have described him as the "former president of Taiwan," but he "deeply regretted " that a Malaysian newspaper has called him "a former leader of Taiwan."
"This is because a media has to be neutral and professional and not swayed by undue forces to change its stance," he said, adding that he would no longer deal with such a media outlet.
In an exclusive interview with Ma, the Sin Chew Daily described him as a "former president of Taiwan," but its online edition calls him "former leader of Taiwan."
The Sin Chew Daily claims to be the biggest-circulation Chinese-language newspaper in Southeast Asia -- "the largest Chinese language media outside of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan."
After arriving in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, Ma will proceed to Johor, where he will give a speech on the future of the Chinese world at Southern University College.
On Wednesday, the former president will head to Penang to visit some historical sites previously visited by Republic of China founding father Sun Yat-sen.
On Thursday, he will attend the 8th World Chinese Economic Summit in Melaka and speak on closer economic relations between Taiwan and the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Ma is slated to return to Taiwan on Friday.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel