EXCLUSIVE | 'Fast, fair and fun': Taiwan's Digital Minister shares mantra to tackle coronavirus

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Aug 24, 2020, 11.01 PM(IST)

Taiwan's Digital Minister Audrey Tang  Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

In an exclusive conservation with WION, Taiwan's Digital Minister and world's first transgender minister Audrey Tang shared insights on not just Taiwan's fight to COVID-19, but a number of issues

Despite facing threats from many fronts, Taiwan's success story to tackle coronavirus is well known and widely praised. In an exclusive conservation with WION's Executive Editor Palki Sharma, Taiwan's Digital Minister and world's first transgender minister Audrey Tang shared insights on not just Taiwan's fight to COVID-19, but on a number of issues, including the Chinese aggression and on ban of Chinese apps by India. 

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Taiwan has also been described as finding a 'hack' to the pandemic and Audrey decoded the region's success mantra to tackle the deadly virus, "first of all, we trusted the citizens, that's the most important part, then comes the technology and also medical masks".

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"I think there are three pillars for deployment of social innovation and that is fast, fair and fun."

Explaining the three "pillars", the Taiwanese minister said they started preparing for COVID-19 in December when Chinese doctor Li Wenliang first informed about novel coronavirus, which was unfamously brushed aside by China. He said from the beginning of January, Taiwan started inspecting flights from Taiwan to China. 

Audrey also explained the "fun" part of Taiwanese model in which, they took the help of innovative memes and other posters to encourage people to wear masks and prevent themselves from contracting the disease. 

When asked about how Taiwan helped governments without the help of World Health Organization (WHO), the digital minister said, "right before the World Health Assembly, we had our own digital pre-WHA Assembly that we shared this playbook also called Taiwan model which you can read about."

He further added that countries including the United States showed interest in Taiwan's model to control the pandemic and they started their own ministry-to-ministry conversation despite not provided access by WHO. 

Audrey also expressed his concern over security and privacy issue faced by countries because of Chinese apps and said Taiwan is also working on Fundamental Act for Independence of Data which they hope to get it passed soon. 

Reacting on India's decision to ban Chinese apps, the digital minister said, "We need a lot to learn from India on how to make such (privacy) assesments" of the safety of foreign softwares. 

On the issue of fake news spread through social media, Audrey provided two solutions. 

"Social media doesn't have to be anti-social," he said, explaining how there are websites that are used for learning new ideas and innovation. 

He also said that Twitter, Facebook and other social media websites are not just filled with "outrage" and "divisiveness"

"We still see cute cats and dogs", he said, suggesting "humour" should counter "rumour" spread through these platforms.