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Former KMT chief visits mainland ancestral home for first time

By ZHANG YI | | Updated: 2023-04-01 18:04
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Ma Ying-jeou, former chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang party, paid respects to his ancestors in Xiangtan, Central China's Hunan province, where his family originates, on Saturday with his four sisters.

Ma and his family traveled to Shuangyang village in Baishi town of Xiangtan on Saturday morning to pay homage to their ancestors ahead of the Qingming Festival that falls on Wednesday, during which Chinese citizens clean the tombs of their forebears.

During Ma's trip to the hometown where his ancestors were from, local people greeted him by saying "Welcome home" and Ma replied in a Hunan dialect with "I'm back!".

Ma's grandfather, Ma Li'an, was born in 1868 in Xiangtan. He was a successful business person and devoted to helping his local community, including building ports and schools.

On many occasions, Ma mentioned his grandfather Ma Li'an and the family motto left by him that advocates for studying hard and performing good deeds, which he put on the title page of his doctoral thesis.

Paying respect to the ancestors is a very important part of Chinese moral education, Ma said.

"My years of wishing have finally come true!" he said. Ma never met his grandfather, but he always hoped to pay his respects to him.

After lighting incense in front of his grandfather's grave Saturday morning, Ma read an elegiac address in the local dialect. Returning to his ancestral home for the first time, he was choked up with sobs several times and wiped his tears while reading.

"Dear grandfather, this is the first time in my life that I have come to the mainland to worship my ancestors and visit relatives. I am very moved," he said in front of the tomb.

"Your legacy reminds us to self-love and pursue self-improvement, help others for good, and be loyal to our duties. It is our most precious asset in life. It is inexhaustible," he added.

Ma was born in 1950 in Hong Kong to mainland parents from Xiangtan, Hunan. In a family of five children, Ma was the fourth child and the only son. His family left Hong Kong for Taiwan in 1952.

During his stay in Hunan, he also visited Zhounan Middle School on Friday where his mother stayed from 1933 to 1936.

Ma, leading a group from Taiwan, arrived in Shanghai on Monday for a 12-day visit in the mainland until April 7. The trip also encourages dialogue between youths from both sides of the Taiwan Straits.

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