TAIPEI (The China Post) – President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced on Feb. 27 that 300,000 people have now subscribed to her LINE account, @iing, getting one step closer to match her presidential status with her political personae for better or worse.
Over the last few weeks, the presidential candidate has shared 315 posts online, including private videos, friendly news reports and intimate accolades, such as “Have you eaten breakfast yet?” (大家吃早餐了嗎？) or “You’ve had a long day. Well done!” (忙碌了一天辛苦了！) in a bid to reconnect with grassroots supporters ahead of the election.
The president and her staff have also made sure that her campaign reaches every social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and the likes, with a clear and consistent marketing strategy. But who is in charge of Taiwan for now on? The president or presidential hopeful?
The question is worth asking as the president’s motto, “Brave and Confident – One with the World” (勇敢自信 世界同行), which is posted on Facebook pages around the globe, including Taiwan embassies, trade offices and more, is poised to become her campaign slogan.
More importantly, her election agenda – refusing a peace treaty with China, embracing same-sex marriage and making Taiwan a nuclear-free country – has increasingly matched the government policies despite the results of Nov. 24 referendums. Whether we like it or not, electors said no to changing the name of Taiwan in sports events, to same-sex marriage and to a forced march out of nuclear-powered electricity.
Does “protecting Taiwan democracy” mean that the China-friendly opposition party is in favor of “one-country, two-system” for all that? Do taxi drivers need higher replacement vehicle subsidies than other professional drivers? Do reporters need to conduct exclusive interviews in midair in a presidential plane paid with taxpayer money?
Social media cannot provide any answers to these questions. To the contrary, they are a tool that allows candidates to talk directly to their supporters in a plain and simple language that fits the presidential candidate’s communication strategy – “Hi, remember to take care of your eyesight!” (午安，提醒您該讓眼睛休息一下囉！).
We shouldn’t allow presidential candidates to bypass traditional media and avoid answering difficult questions, however. We should remind them that they must draw a clear line between managing their campaign and managing national affairs.
After all, they are elected for a mandate that begins with their election and ends 4 years later. In the meantime, they need to remember that they are the president of all the people of Taiwan, green or blue as well as the millions of people in between, whether on campaign trails or not.
By Dimitri Bruyas