Sun, May 28, 2017 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Transparency and public voice form Tang’s policy

Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang, in an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) staff reporters Lan Tzu-wei and Jennifer Huang shared her experiences on increasing government transparency and allowing public participation in governmental affairs

Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang is pictured during an interview with the Liberty Times on May 19 in Taipei.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): As the first minister-without-portfolio specifically tasked with digital affairs, can you elaborate on what you intended to achieve when you took the job?

Audrey Tang (唐鳳): The position of minister-without-portfolio for digital affairs means that it is not just a one-person job and that everyone can, through digital systems and technology, help resolve governmental affairs.

We have made public on the Web site our visits with those who are interested in sharing their views and each meeting the government has held. We hope to better integrate the collective wisdom and strengths of the people to help the government.

LT: You have always been a supporter of an “open government.” What are your goals for establishing digital information management to that end?

Tang: The goal of digital management is to digitize all executive affairs. If everything is on paper it sits on desks or the computers of the people working on the file, which makes it impossible to render transparent. Therefore, the next step is to share the data on which we base our decisions in a transparent manner.

Next is the matter of accountability. For every opinion that is raised, for everything that happens in each stage, we must have the same response.

Last is inclusiveness, which allows everyone to participate and not just those who are knowledgeable in code or law.

LT: You are an avid user of the Internet, though which you are connected to global trends. How can Taiwan’s policies, or hardware construction, on digital information policies keep up with such trends?

Tang: In terms of “keeping abreast of trends,” I would say that we should not consider competitiveness as a competition with others, but rather as point of comparison with what we want to do and what we are capable of.

In terms of policy, the draft regulations on innovative financial technological experimentation, the draft act on digital communication and media, and the draft act on recruiting and hiring professional foreigners are all policies that have emerged under the joint discussion of those who would benefit from the passage of the laws. We hope that should these laws be implemented, it would help enable innovation in Taiwan.

In terms of infrastructure, the majority have considered issues on informational security, digital equality, transparent content, common service portals and machine collaborations important. Therefore, under the proposed Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, we have allocated funding of a four-year program to build infrastructure for those issues.

LT: How would governmental services transition into a digital format? How would such policies reach and influence the public?

Tang: Take the Taiwan High Speed Rail iTaiwan free Wi-Fi connection for example. It has been installed in 177 carriages and just last week was used by more than 10,000 people. More carriages are to be outfitted with such services.

I think that for the public to feel that something is done, they would have to raise the issues that they feel must be changed. Therefore, people should make their ideas known through online participation on public policies forums. Then they could actually see and discuss what is being changed.

LT: The Internet speed in Taiwan has fallen behind that of South Korea and Japan, while the coverage of Wi-Fi services in metropolises cannot compare with China. Were it not for this year’s Universiade, the issue of information “blind corners” on the Taiwan High Speed Rail would not have been addressed. Do you feel this is too slow a process?

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