Sun, Jul 19, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Ma delivers first weekly online speech

BONFIRE Inspired by former US president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats, President Ma titled his first Web speech ‘Building a bonfire on the Internet beach’

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday delivered his first online speech on the Presidential Office Web site to give the public a better understanding of his thoughts and government policies via the new communication channel.

“I’ve noticed the latest developments on the Internet, and new platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are great ­communication channels ... I hope all of you can interact with me, and I will try my best to answer your questions,” Ma said in the three-minute speech.

The video addresses from the president was inspired by former US president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats, while considering the large population of Internet users in Taiwan, the Presidential Office said.

A three-to-five-minute speech will be posted on the Web site every Saturday morning.

In the first speech, titled “Building a bonfire on the Internet beach,” Ma shared his experience of turning Taipei into a wireless city and setting up computers in every classroom in middle schools during his tenure as Taipei mayor.

The president welcomed the public to post their feedback online and promised to answer as many questions as he could every week.

The Presidential Office said Ma would speak on different topics each week, from his experience of announcing the opening of the World Games in Kaohsiung to the college entrance exams.

The office said it would consider suggestions for topics on which the president should speak. The power of the Internet and its potential influence could not be underestimated and Ma believed that the government can interact efficiently with the public via this medium, it said.

Commenting on Ma’s online speech, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) described it as old and uncreative, saying that Ma’s online speech idea copied former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) online weekly newsletter A-bian Portrait (阿扁傳真). Since technology progresses so fast, such a style of communications is outdated, Cheng said.

Cheng said Ma should use either Plurk or Facebook to ­communicate with the public more directly, adding that Ma should explain significant policies to ­people in a timely fashion, rather than delay updates to every Saturday.

Many DPP politicians, including former DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), now interact with supporters via Twitter or Plurk.

The Presidential Office yesterday said it was not considering having the president join those platforms in the near future because he would not have enough time to talk to supporters directly online.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG

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