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May 30, 2017

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Gov't officials have stumbled onto Facebook. Now what?

If one has to explain why the government is so clueless in leading the country in two words, there is no better choice than the term "tangible policies." The government's obsession with making people "feel" the impact of its policies highlights its utter shortsightedness and sense of insecurity.

First of all, public distrust of the government is running high not because the people cannot feel the government's policies but rather because they feel too well the ineptitude of policies such as the introductions of energy price hikes and stock gains tax while the nation braces for further damage on exports due to the eurozone debt crisis.

The problem for the government is not a lack of advertising but a lack of product quality. People can see its policies well and they do not like them. The government's focus on "tangible policies" is grossly misguided and is bound to fail. While a government should be transparent and should help the public understand its policies, national policies should be guided only by their necessity and their long-term merits — not by the public's mood. Unfortunately for the people, the government doesn't seem to yet feel its own problems.

Even if one agrees to the government's argument for the necessity of a policy promotion campaign, the government is apparently doing it all wrong.

Local daily The China Times reported yesterday that senior Cabinet officials have ordered about 100 employees at the Cabinet spokesperson's office to establish Facebook pages to advertise government policies. Owners of pages that attract 1,000 Facebook fans for more will get a bonus. The owner of the most popular page will receive an extra bonus on top of that.

The news came after the government was hugely embarrassed when its video ad on the "Economic Power-Up Plan" was quickly pulled off YouTube after viewers reported it to the website's administers as spam. The angry viewers have a point: When something is supposedly designed to explain government policies, it should do so instead of announcing that "You cannot explain economic policy in a few sentences."

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