2009/05/12

DPP gives up communicating to the outside world completely ??


(Updated Note: See the bottom for the comment from Julia who helped @ the Department of International Affairs of DPP for the difficulties DPP is facing now.)

The DPP and pro-green camp are gonna launch a large scale protest against Ma Ying-jeou and his government on May 17.

I can't find any English statement anywhere. For such a large scale protest, it seems odd to me that the DPP doesn't seem to care about what the international media would think.

In fact, it seems to be the pattern. The most updated news appears in the News section is dated December 16 and 15, 2008, in DPP's official English and Japanese website, respectively -- when that in the Chinese version is updated daily. I have been checking that constantly for sometime, yet nothing is updated in those sections in the last 5 months. (Corresponding url links to the above pages are unavailable, 'cos the design of DPP's website makes all pages appear to have the same url. This is a very very bad design).

Has the DPP completely blocked out the the communication channel -- all by herself -- to the outside world ? When the KMT has dedicated a very active website KNN to communicate in English on a daily basis, how can the DPP gain any global support with a 5 months old website?

I worry about this because in the soon coming crash(es) between the green side and Ma government, without an official channel to communicate to the outside world, Ma and KMT are gonna take the lead of event interpretation, which will not only render the protest efforts wasted, but also put those participators in danger of being criminalized by KMT's single-sided and often faulty broadcasting.

I recalled how much the students in the Wild Strawberry Movement cared about the global opinion in the movement they started last November. Dedicated websites in several foreign languages were established. Is it true that students without any political experience can outperform the DPP in how an opposition movement should be done in this information era ?

At the mean time, the personal website of the DPP chairperson, Tsai Ing-wen, is quite active (AGAIN, NO ENGLISH OR JAPANESE). Some might think that she keeps herself up with the current of information technology by having a personal blog is a good thing. But, she is now the head of the DPP. By voicing her idea on her personal blog and thus drawing attentions to her own website but not to the DPP's, I wonder how good it is to the DPP.

Update: I just spotted Claudia Jean's article about Ma Ying-jeou's blog. The article is based on Billy Pan's exploration (荒唐!一個要花160萬的部落格) that Ma Ying-jeou is gonna spend NT$1,600,000 (US$48,800) taxpayers' money EVERY YEAR for his personal blog when a blog can be run and maintained for free.

18 comments:

claudiajean [13/5/09 00:57] said...

DPP is holding an international press conference on 16th.

Taiwan Echo [13/5/09 01:09] said...

Thanks for the info. IMO, it might be better to have it at least couple of days ahead so the international circle has a little more time to warm up.

Julia [13/5/09 07:25] said...

Hi Echo,

I actually worked in the Department of International Affairs at DPP HQ last year, as a US Fulbright Fellow.

Our department has not given up on communicating to the outside world. But here are the two major problems that we face:

1.) After we lost the 2008 presidential election, we were forced to make devastating personnel cuts in all departments. One person is often forced to do the translation work of many, which makes updating the English website and sending out press releases difficult, especially given that the department has many other responsibilities.

I imagine that the KMT has many bilingual translators (they certainly have the money for it), which is why they can send out daily press releases.

2.) We always respond to inquiries from the foreign media, and we do hold press conferences. However, we know from speaking with journalists that their stories are sometimes edited or cut, and the so our message doesn't always get out.

The DPP depends on the support of its grassroots supporters and foreign friends, especially in difficult times like this. We welcome foreigners to write newspaper editorials, attend public events and rallies, and speak with their elected representatives about the importance of Taiwan.

Our small department does the best that it can with the extremely limited resources that it possesses... but we need the help of our friends in the international community.

Julia [13/5/09 07:31] said...

... and as many of us are aware, by the way, that Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen and DPP Department of International Affairs Director Bi-khim Hsiao just visited the United States and Canada to get the party's message out. They met with scholars, government officials, journalists, supporters, and others. These types of trips are valuable, as nothing can replace face-to-face dialogue.

Taiwan Echo [13/5/09 08:39] said...

Dear Julia, Thanks for the info. I've put an updated note in the very beginning of this post.

In the mean time, there are quite a few bloggers who have been constantly writing in English for Taiwan to fight against pro-blue hypocrisy. Many of them have lived in Taiwan for a long time and become Taiwan citizen. Maybe it's a good idea for DPP to try to make some contact ?

Julia [13/5/09 09:11] said...

...or they could contact the DPP. For example, we're always looking for ways to disseminate press releases, and bloggers could help spread the word among their faithful readers!

David [13/5/09 10:39] said...

Thanks for writing about this issue. I feel pain when visiting the DPP website and seeing the English section so neglected. I know the DPP has limited resources compared to the KMT, but surely making one update a week is not beyond them?

Tsai Ing-wen also has a Facebook page that is regularly updated in both English and Chinese. It seems to me that the problem is not necessarily lack of resources, but lack of planning or organisation. Once content is created it is quite simple to publish it across several platforms, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, blog, DPP website.

阿牛 [13/5/09 10:56] said...

Julia,

DO you recommend just calling DPP HQ about this, or do you have some more specific and useful contact information for how to find someone who will care and appreciate the offer to help?

I remember walking in for a random interview years ago, shortly after the DPP won the 2000 election, to ask to volunteer, and effectively got turned down.I'd prefer not to repeat that experience if I were to help out, and want to know who I can talk to about getting some real things done, maybe setting up sort of a free-lance level of salary to help out, thanks!

David [13/5/09 11:07] said...

I'd just like to add that I sent an e-mail to foreign[at]dpp.org.tw about the website last week. I have not received any reply.

Taiwan Echo [13/5/09 11:26] said...

Julia:"...or they could contact the DPP. For example, we're always looking for ways to disseminate press releases, and bloggers could help spread the word among their faithful readers!"

As you see from the comments, people have been trying to help, but the door is closed.

I've seen similar situations AGAIN AND AGAIN -- to a point of total frustration -- in MANY Taiwanese groups --- they never reach out to the people, but keep complaining that people don't come to them. And in case people do come, some harsh screening or controls applied to push them and eventually force them out -- at the same time keep complaining that people are not awaken to their calling.

This sort of frustration completely kills the willingness to help.

Taiwan Echo [13/5/09 11:59] said...

David: "Tsai Ing-wen also has a Facebook page that is regularly updated in both English and Chinese. It seems to me that the problem is not necessarily lack of resources, but lack of planning or organisation. "

That's how I feel too, David.

Julia [13/5/09 14:23] said...

I'll try to respond to some of these comments, although legally I should say that although I remain in contact with HQ, and help whenever I can, I'm no longer constantly stationed there and I'm certainly not an official party spokesperson.

Website:

There are actually a number of reasons why it's difficult for us to update the site regularly, which I won't go into here (long story). But sadly, it's not as simple as one of us writing a story and then instantly posting it online... it's actually a longer process.

I would also not say that it's a problem of organization... it's a problem of having the manpower and the time to get the articles translated and on to a website in the first place. (And of course, not all articles we maintain on the Chinese website would necessarily interest a foreign audience.) It's helpful to keep in mind that aside from people like Bi-Khim Hsiao, people who work for the party are not usually native English speakers like some of us.

Yes, using simple tools like Facebook and Twitter are definitely useful, and sometimes less time consuming (Frank Hsieh uses Plurk nowadays). I helped create the "DPP Foreign" Facebook account as well as some of DPP and Frank Hsieh groups during the election. We keep discussing how to best use new technologies to connect with people, and we're getting better at it.

Newsletter

We do send out a monthly newsletter, which has many articles in English regarding important events. If you would like to be put onto that mailing list, I would be happy to pass your name along to my colleagues.

E-mail

Given our limited number of staffers, when I was at HQ I seem to recall one person being designated to check the DPP Foreign e-mail account... so when things get really busy at HQ or we get a lot of e-mails, sometimes things don't get responded to right away. We always answer all phone calls during office hours, though (we do get phone calls from all over the world), and I'm happy to pass along messages as well.

Volunteering

In terms of volunteering, we always have a limited number of unpaid internships available. Given our tight budget, the party can't afford to pay interns or volunteers. Obviously I can't speak to specific circumstances, but if you're talking about volunteering for a particular event (such as the upcoming 517 march), then I can check into whether they'll need anyone.

---

Here's another way that I explain things, for example. The people in our media department handle the Chinese language media news and press releases. However, people in the International Affairs Department have to do a bit of everything. We deal with foreign guests, we handle the foreign media, we conduct all the the translation work for the DPP, we prepare publications, we work on web content, we write speeches, we attend rallies and plan party events, etc., etc....basically, it's not like the other departments all have their own English translators and such. That means that we're effectively doing the work of many departments, but in English and Japanese and sometimes other languages. We consequently tend to get bogged down. At that point, it really isn't as much as an organization issue as it is a manpower and resources issue. Yes, if we had lots of money we could hire lots of staff and solve many problems. We can't even hire an infinite number of unpaid interns, because we only have so much office space.

My point is, we're definitely trying to the best we can. I would not say that the door is closed. If anyone has ever felt somehow slighted, then I apologize, but it's never our intent. I think we all just need to continue to think creatively and ascertain how to best utilize and manage the resources we have at our disposal to work with our supporters in the foreign community.


Hope that addresses some issues... I can't address everything in depth, since I'm not authorized to speak officially on behalf of the party.

But I can tell you that we're planning foreign outreach for the 517 event, and I promise to make the info available as soon as I receive the green light from HQ.

Regards,
Julia

Taiwan Echo [13/5/09 22:31] said...

Dear Julia,

Thanks for sharing the info.

Most of us in this Engligh blog circle have been dedicated to write for Taiwan constantly for years. I believe none of us got paid for the time and efforts. But we do it anyway. The work we did aligns well with what the DPP desperately needs. I just hate to see that the two lines never cross. In that sense, this is still an organization issue, I think.

Anyway, at least we are now upgraded from "Why Can't We?" to "Oh I See." Hopefully it will go up again to "Yes We Can" someday, only then real good use of available resources and (wo)manpower can be achieved to help the DPP.

Anonymous [14/5/09 11:05] said...

Tsai Ing-wen went to the US (last week) to present the DPP views directly to US international relations pundits. She was very well-received and overall impressions of her were very positive. There is also the international press conference as pointed out by claudiajean.

Definitely needs to be more coordination, but I think your headline is not so right. If there are problems with manpower, maybe a wiki for translating documents?

Tim Maddog [14/5/09 16:48] said...

__ Julia wrote:
- - -
However, we know from speaking with journalists that their stories are sometimes edited or cut, and the so our message doesn't always get out.- - -

I've heard this excuse many times (as well as the one about "journalistic laziness"), yet these same journalists continue to allow their names to be displayed in the bylines of mendacious stories -- ones which often toe the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) line.

Therefore, I tend not to put too much belief in those kinds of statements, and it would benefit the DPP to not waste time with such "journalists."

For numerous examples of this kind of "journalism," try Googling some of these:
* "Chen Shui-bian" troublemaker
* "Ma Ying-jeou" handsome OR "movie-star looks" OR "Harvard-educated lawyer"
* China goodwill

Among the results from "respected" outlets such as TIME, The Economist, BBC, and others (including official Chinese media), you'll surely find some of my own takedowns of this kind of BS.

Getting back to the bit I quoted from Julia, it should be clear that if the DPP wants to get its messages out, it has take more initiative to do it itself!

Bypass the mendacious media!

Tim Maddog

David on Formosa [15/5/09 21:35] said...

It seems that maybe the message was heard in DPP HQ. DPP now has an English blog http://dpptaiwan.wordpress.com/ and twitter account http://twitter.com/dpp_intl

馬諾Manuel [20/5/09 17:43] said...

Hi Echo Taiwan,

why should the DPP post anything in English? Has any of the European or latin American parties informations in English? Mostly not...

The DPP plays it cards of power correctly (they have learnt a lot from the KMT).

Non Chinese residence like me may not vote and according to the law even not join any rallies or make political statements towards Taiwan or China.

The DPP same as the KMT doesn't care much what non voters might say or think.

And here is exactly the stuff for conflict between locals and internationals. Because we may not say or do on anything, we get into that stereotypes of teaching English and beer drinking scum.

I saw the news about the WHA and how Taiwanese students behaved in Europe. A glory for European freedom of speech, but in I would be deported the next day.

Tim Maddog [20/5/09 20:52] said...

Manuel wrote:
- - -
Non Chinese residence like me may not vote and according to the law even not join any rallies or make political statements towards Taiwan or China.
- - -

First of all, many citizens of Taiwan are "non-Chinese," so that's a bad description.

Secondly, I'm pretty sure it's only illegal if foreigners get onstage during campaign rallies. I have participated in many rallies in Taiwan, including campaign rallies. There's nothing illegal about that, and if you join the pro-democracy side, your presence will be most welcome. (Not the same as the brave Taiwanese woman who shouted at their own officials on foreign soil. I certainly wouldn't suggest chasing officials here.) It's up to you whether or not you fall into the stereotypes that you mention.

Thirdly, if you are a resident, government policy affects you whether you can vote or not. Don't you care at all about that? I'm of the opinion that you should get more involved in Taiwan's politics.

Fourthly, you say:
- - -
The DPP same as the KMT doesn't care much what non voters might say or think.
- - -

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) gets very upset when foreigners criticize them. See their responses to the open letters that were critical of their human rights record. International pressure will bring more change to the KMT than Taiwan's voters ever will.

Finally, "why should the DPP post anything in English?" The obvious reason is that the English-speaking world generally hears the lies about the DPP provoking" China, etc., but they don't get the real picture. The KMT has the "Kuomintang News Network" (KNN). If you take a look at their mendacious propaganda (compiled from Taipei newspapers [that they have their dirty hands in]), you might understand why the DPP must get active in transmitting their message in English.

Tim Maddog