Sun, Jan 09, 2005 - Page 2 News List

New era dawns as Cabinet gazette goes online

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

From hand-written rice paper to Internet publication, the format of government bulletins entered a new electronic era as the Cabinet launched an integrated online edition of the Executive Yuan Gazette (行政院公報) Monday.

In addition to the online edition, the publication will continue to be published in printed volumes daily, except for weekends and national holidays.

The official bulletin is designed to integrate 20 government bulletins published by the Executive Yuan and various ministries.

The online edition is not yet completely English friendly, because readers can only find brief English introductions to certain laws and regulations. More detailed information will be gradually added to the electronic volumes.

Official bulletins are not a product of modern democracies, according to the Study on the Publication of Government Bulletins written by Yeh Chun-jung (葉俊榮), chairman of the Cabinet's Research, Development and Evaluation Commission.

"In the history of the East and West, public bulletins appeared as early as the dictatorial era and gradually evolved to its current form," the study said.

In the West, government gazettes are believed to have first appeared in Venice, Italy in the 16th century.

The London Gazette (originally called The Oxford Gazette) is believed to be the world's oldest continuously published newspaper.

It is still published with authority as it has been since it was established by Charles II when the Court, or the government of the time, was removed to Oxford during the Great Plague of 1665.

When the Court returned to London, the name was then changed to its current title.

Nowadays, there are three official journals for the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland. They are: the London Gazette, the Edinburgh Gazette and the Belfast Gazette.

In ancient China, public announcements of the imperial palace first appeared during the Han Dynasty.

The Di Bao (邸報), or government paper, provided the news of imperial orders and notices of promotions and re-gradings of imperial guards.

Such notices were handwritten on rice paper and copies were delivered by messengers on horseback and posted nationwide.

During the Qing Dynasty, Di Bao was renamed Jing Bao (京報), or capital gazette, and printed by private printing houses.

In the middle of the Qing Dynasty, independent newspaper companies took over the printing job as printing houses produced inconsistent information and the content was full of errors.

In addition, the printing quality was poor and delivery of the bulletins was often delayed because of poor postal services.

The year of 1907 saw the first official gazette published by the imperial palace. The publication covered 10 different categories. They included imperial notices, officials' reports to the emperor, laws, regulations, treaties and advertisement.

The publication of gazettes continued after the fall of the Qing Dynasty.

The Nationalist Government Gazette (國民政府公報) became the official bulletin of the Republic of China.

Its name was changed to the Presidential Office Gazette (總統府公報) in 1948, one year before the Nationalist party lost the civil war to its Communist counterpart and withdrew to Taiwan.

Taiwan saw the publication of its first official gazette in 1896 during the Japanese colonial era. The Taiwan Governor's Office Paper (台灣總督府報) was renamed Taiwan Governor's Office Gazette (台灣總督府官報) in 1942.

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