Cover Illustration: Francesca Gamboa

Taiwanese politician and media commentator Sisy Chen believes that with great influence comes great responsibility—and that everyone has a role to play

Becoming influential is one part talent and the other part timing. A lot of it has to do with taking opportunities at the right time. When influence is given, it is not only a blessing from God but also a great responsibility. Therefore, anyone who is deemed influential must cherish it, and use it to transform society and the world into a better, kinder, and more human place.

When one is named as an influential person, it is not merely an accolade but a call to action. When I was 20 years old, I felt it was the time I was at my best, but truthfully, I had very little influence then. This made me realise how timing—including the era we’re born in—has a lot to do with whether we’re able to flourish or not as individuals. Think about it: without democracy, our talents would never see the light of day, so one must remember that luck plays into the cards, too. 

Recently, I saw a report that a Syrian boy picked up one euro on the road and decided to donate it for Taiwanese to buy vaccines. Living as a Syrian refugee is undoubtedly a difficult situation, but he was willing to donate this one euro, which shows that he has chosen a different path in life. It demonstrates that he chooses to shoulder even more responsibilities than the normal person by paying it forward.  

 

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Sisy's World News has always covered and showed concern about the issue of Syrian refugees. Master Cheng Yen, a Taiwanese Buddhist nun, teacher, and philanthropist who watches the show, once believed that the children of these Syrian refugees—having been beaten, expelled, and abandoned—would have hatred in their hearts. But why not plant a world of goodness in his or her heart, why not create a world full of good intentions that accepts them?

On the border between Turkey and Syria, there are many horrible child labour camps, and most of the world turns a blind eye to it. These children work 12 hours a day, with only an hour of rest in between, including eating and going to the bathroom. The wages they receive are not even enough for basic necessities such as food and clothing.
 
Turkey accepts the most Syrian refugees but does not issue work permits to those over the age of 14, which means these refugees have no right to work. Instead, they recruit children and facilitate child labour.

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Tzu Chi, a Taiwanese international humanitarian and NGO founded by Cheng Yen, decided to provide relocation allowance for each Syrian refugee family to avoid child labour abuse and instead allow the children to go to school and receive an education. Cheng Yen saw their plight on Sisy's World News and came forward to provide relief. I consider this as a stark illustration of the power of influence.

Media is very influential, and the truth is there are many larger media establishments much more influential than me. Everyone in media should believe in the good, endeavour to create positive influence, and adopt the right angle to report what the world needs to see.

We’re in the era of digital and social media, which has both good and bad sides. People get more information than ever before, but do they act on it? Each and every one of us is more knowledgeable and wields a certain level of influence. What we need to do now is to remember that we need to serve as a beacon of positivity, in order to create a world that is the kind of place we want to live in.


Sisy Chen (Chen Wen-Chien) is a Taiwanese politician and television commentator who is part of Tatler Asia's Most Influential: Taiwan 2021. She hosts Sisy's World News, a weekly newscast at the TVBS Television Channel, and UFO Dinner, a daily radio talk show at the UFO Radio Station.

This essay is part of an op-ed series written by Asia's Most Influential 2021 honourees. See and learn more about Asia's Most Influential here.

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