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PFP VP candidate to visit Bhutan in search of happiness

2011/12/22 17:03:27

Taipei, Dec. 22 (CNA) Lin Ruey-shiung, the vice presidential candidate of the People First Party (PFP), a splinter group from the ruling Kuomintang, said Thursday that he will visit Bhutan next week to study how it has managed to raise its Gross National Happiness (GNH) with only limited resources.

Lin, a retired epidemiologist and a political novice, said he is scheduled to depart for Bhutan Dec. 26 on a "journey of learning" at the invitation of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of the South Asian landlocked state.

"I want to see for myself how Bhutan, with a gross national income of only about US$1,500 per capita, can achieve one of the world's highest GNH levels," Lin said at a news conference at the PFP's presidential and legislative campaign headquarters.

In his view, Lin said, Taiwan has much to learn from the Vajrayana Buddhist kingdom in the pursuit of equitable economic policy, revamp of traditional culture and values, environmental sustainability and efficient governance.

Lin revealed that he began to arrange his trip about two months ago.

"I have received an invitation from His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuckhe to offer counseling in public health promotion," he said.

During his stay, Lin went on, he also hopes to meet the king's father, Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

"I admire the king's father's foresight in coming up with the goal of pursuing GNH in the 1970s when nearly all other countries around the world were still pursuing Gross National Product.

"His vision for prioritizing national happiness over economic growth or material production has impressed and moved many technologically advanced countries," Lin said.

When the incumbent Bhutan royal couple visited Japan earlier this year, they inspired many Japanese to think about what happiness means, Lin continued.

While Japan's per capita national income exceeds US$40,000, the percentage of Japanese people who feel they are happy is far below the level in Bhutan, where 97 percent feel they lead happy lives, Lin said.

In comparison, Lin went on, Taiwan has been on a steady decline due to the polarized confrontation between the country's two major political camps over the past decade.

"I earnestly hope to learn something from my Bhutan trip to help upgrade our GNH," said the 72-year-old who is scheduled to concludehis visit Dec. 31.

Lin, the running mate of PFP presidential candidate James Soong, said he believes his trip will greatly help boost the PFP ticket's support rate.

According to most opinion surveys by media outlets and research institutes, Soong is trailing far behind his two campaign opponents -- incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party.

(By Lu Hsin-sui and Sofia Wu)