Fri, Jul 09, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Netizens furious at Presidential Office

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter

The Presidential Office has come under fire from netizens for declining to view a clip on the video Web site YouTube attached to a petition sent via e-mail. The presidential office said the “unknown” Web site could cause harm to its computer system.

In an e-mail sent to the Presidential Office earlier this month, an Internet user with the pseudonym “an angry citizen” asked President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to watch a video clip posted on YouTube that shows how excavators dispatched by the Miaoli County Government and escorted by police rode into rice paddies and dug up farmland despite protests from local farmers at the scene.

The Miaoli County Government has taken over more than 28 hectares of land in Dapu Borough (大埔), Jhunan Township (竹南), Miaoli County, to make way for an expansion project of the Jhunan Science Park.

“If you still are a man of conscience, please take a look at the attached video link to see how Miaoli County commissioner Liu Cheng-hung [劉政鴻] is destroying farmland,” the user wrote to Ma. “This couldn’t be carried out with your tacit approval, now could it?”

The response by the Presidential Office came as a surprise to “angry citizen” and many netizens.

“Because of frequent and innovative attacks by malicious ­hackers and viruses, we have a policy to restrict access to unknown Web sites to maintain normal operations and security of our computer systems,” the Presidential Office said in its reply. “Hence, we are unable to browse the Web address that you have provided.”

The angry response from Internet users was immediate.

“The Presidential Office calls YouTube an ‘unknown’ Web site, but the stupid lie is busted by the Presidential Office’s very own Web site” — recently upgraded, at a cost of NT$7 million [US$218,000] — “since there are links to YouTube on it,” blogger “pfge” wrote in a personal entry. “This proves that the government doesn’t care about what the public thinks.”

The Presidential Office uses the YouTube Web site on a regular basis, as it posts the president’s weekly video chat on it.

“I don’t know which genius came up with this response, I don’t know whether to be mad or to laugh,” said Mira Chen, a member of the online social networking service Plurk.com. “So these are the people who are governing this country!”

Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said that for security purposes, it had been policy since the Democratic Progressive Party was in power not to access links attached in e-mails.

“If the public thinks we should change the policy, we will look more into it before making a decision,” he said.

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