Digital minister brings ‘open gov’t’ message to PTT

The China Post news staff

Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang recently logged on to the popular web forum PTT to recruit civil servants, as part of her efforts to promote the concept of “open government.” Posting in the online bulletin board’s “PublicServan [sic] ” discussion area, Tang — popularly known as the country’s first “digital minister” — wrote a post to recruit civil service personnel, saying that candidates should be passionate about “government culture” and be internet literate in order to help consolidate, communicate and coordinate the government’s online initiatives. “Do you believe certain agency deputies will be able to find these passionate individuals among the vast sea of civil servants? Perhaps they can, but let’s work to increase the chances,” Tang wrote under her username “audreytang.” Tang added that the offer was intended to staff agencies that are currently lacking manpower for online initiatives. The post, however, generated some doubts from respondents on PTT, who said a lack of online anonymity would cause “hierarchical backlash” and heighten distrust within the government. Tang’s push for open governance was supported by President Tsai Ing-wen, who attended this year’s HITCON Pacific 2016 meeting of hackers in Taipei.

In a statement released following the event, Tsai praised Tang’s open government initiatives and said the government should maintain dialogue with hackers despite differences of opinion. The president said there was room for dialogue between the government and hackers and that the “anti-mainstream” and “challenge to the status quo” were cultural norms that the government should incorporate to promote growth and innovation. Tsai said she believed Tang’s newfound presence within the government could be felt online and that the digital minister was bringing new trends to government structures just two months after her appointment.

The president said she believed Tang’s appointment was just the first step of many in order to bring “the hacker’s spirit” into the government, to further promote digitization and to “safeguard information.” She said that in order for the island’s ICT talent to be fully utilized, information security technology would need to be constantly upgraded, while more support from the marketplace was needed.