Tsai 'human first, president second,' viral vloggers say after meeting her

12/05/2019 09:50 PM

Taipei, Dec. 5 (CNA) Two popular vloggers, who stayed overnight at the Presidential Office, met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at her office on Thursday and said afterward that she was "awesome" and was a "human first, president second."

Nuseir Yassin and Alyne Tamir, who are a couple and have a combined following of 15 million on social media, were invited to meet Tsai after spending a night at the Presidential Office Building, which was part of a program held by several government agencies in Taiwan.

Palestinian-Israeli Yassin, who rose to fame in January when he completed a challenge of uploading a one-minute video on Facebook for 1,000 consecutive days, said he talked with Tsai about his plans to make videos about Taiwan and he asked her to appear in some of them.

In an interview with CNA after the meeting at the Presidential Office, Yassin said Tsai was different from most other presidents he had met before.

"We've met other presidents before," he said. "Most presidents are president first, human second. I think President Tsai is human first, president second. You can tell just by the way she talks, by the way she looks at you."

His partner Tamir, an American-Israeli who is an advocate for gender equality, animal rights and environmental protection, said Tsai was "awesome."

"I really like her on a personal level," Tamir said. "She's very calm, but smart and collected, and also obviously manages to be incredibly efficient and high-level functioning at the same time, which is difficult."

The couple said they were thrilled to have stayed a night in the guest room inside the Presidential Office, as one of the 10 pairs who won the right to "Spend a Night in the Presidential Office Building" in a program organized jointly by the General Association of Chinese Culture, the Tourism Bureau, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It was very different from anything they had experienced before, although there was curfew and no access to clubs or restaurants, Yassin said.

"The design of the room is beautiful...We need those design skills for our house. Whoever designed it, let's hire them," he said, with a laugh.

In similar vein, Tamir said she could live there.

"It's like a small house," she said. "I could live there forever. If they want me to move in, I will."

It is the couple's second visit to Taiwan, as part of their work of making videos about various countries.

"The last time I was here was actually just a few months ago. That was also the first time, and I liked it way more than expected," Tamir said, adding that she assesses a country by the number of video ideas that she has for it.

On this visit, she said, she estimated that she could make at least five videos on topics such as Taipei being rated as the top city worldwide for expats, and fruit farming and the unique ocean hot springs in Taitung.

"The more I learn about Taiwan, the more I'm surprised at how progressive it is," Tamir said. "I had no idea. It's not really marketed internationally."

Yassin, meanwhile, said that before he came to Taiwan, his impression of the country was a hub for the production of cell phones and high-tech products such as computer chips, but now he has stories to tell, especially about the people's way of life.

"Same-sex marriage, that's a big one," he said, referring to Taiwan's record as the first Asian country to legalize gay marriage. "Democracy is another big one. You don't control Facebook, I'm not scared, and I can say whatever I want. Democracy has its problems, you know, but it seems to be doing well for Taiwan."

The couple will return Saturday to Singapore, where they recently set up a company.

Tamir said she told President Tsai that they will consider moving to Taiwan when they are done with their work in Singapore.

(By Emerson Lim)


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