Tue, Jan 27, 2015 - Page 3 News List

New transport minister lauds ‘Internet army’

By Shelley Shan and Sean Lin  /  Staff reporters

New Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Chien-yu (陳建宇) highlighted the importance of the so-called “Internet army” and its opinion in his inauguration speech yesterday, saying that one of the ministry’s crucial tasks was to communicate with netizens and apply their opinions in the process of formulating transport policies.

“We have to understand the ‘Internet army’ to command the direction of public opinion. The concepts of ‘big data’ and ‘open data’ have been widely used in advanced nations to formulate public policies. The ministry must also respond and try to apply them as well,” Chen said.

“Communicating with netizens through social networks, gathering their opinions and sufficiently applying them in forming transport policies will be an indispensable task for the ministry,” he said.

Chen was appointed by the Executive Yuan to serve as transport minister after his predecessor, Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時), stepped down for failing to secure the Legislative Yuan’s support for the proposed financial restructuring of the Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corp (THSRC), which is expected to go bankrupt in March or April this year.

Chen’s speech took place after members of the Cabinet over the weekend listened to lectures by experts at fusing Internet and public policy.

The educational sessions encouraged government officials to embrace — rather than fear — critique and commentary from netizens.

Beyond using social media, Chen identified what he described as three urgent tasks facing the ministry in his inauguration remarks.

On the subject of THSRC’s financial problems, he said the ministry will be thoroughly prepared to take over the operation of the high-speed rail system to ensure that service will not be disrupted because of THSRC’s imminent bankruptcy — even though an amendment to the Statute for Encouragement of Private Participation in Transportation Infrastructure Project (獎勵民間參與交通建設條例) has yet to be approved by legislators.

Regarding new air routes that China unilaterally announced earlier this month, Chen said that the ministry’s position remained unchanged: China should move the primary problematic air route further west, away from the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

As the Taoyuan Aerotropolis Project is a national plan that widely affects economic development, Chen said that the project would be his top priority and he would work closely the Greater Taoyuan government and other government agencies.

Separately yesterday, former Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) president Shyu Jyuo-min (徐爵民) was inaugurated as the minister of Science and Technology, filling the post vacated by Simon Chang (張善政), who last month became vice premier.

In his inauguration speech, Shyu said the world is dominated by a knowledge-based economy, in which innovation is an essential driving force.

He vowed to strengthen cooperation among government research institutes, academia and the private sector to foster an atmosphere of innovation in Taiwan.

To attain these goals, he said his ministry had launched a series of cooperative projects over the past year, as well as incentive programs to encourage innovative ideas from students.

Shyu obtained a doctorate from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and was the head of the institute beginning in 2010 before assuming his current post.

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