Chen Shu-chu and JT Wang: Austerity and Pride
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 6, 2010
Time Magazine has published its Time 100 list of the world's most influential people. Chen Shu-chu, a vegetable stand owner in Taitung was the only recipient to wear tennis shoes to the awards ceremony. As she stood amidst the world's most famous political leaders and artists, she displayed her uncommon character. She allowed the world to see how People Power originates at the grassroots. She showed that the ability to influence events is not reserved for the world's elites.
She has been away from her native Taitung only twice in her life. The farthest she got in the past was Taipei. Chen Shu-chu obtained her first passport, and along with a new purse she bought for 199NT (US$6) at a roadside stand, traveled to New York to receive her award. She made everyone on Taiwan proud. Given a greengrocer's meager income, it is hard to imagine the energy and boundless willpower she must have demonstrated to overcome hardships and get where she is today. It's a small world. She demonstrated a love for humanity without borders. She scrimped on herself, but was generous to a fault to others. Her humble appearance makes her noble character even more moving.
The media has focused the spotlight on Chen Shu-chu. But let us not forget Acer Chairman JT Wang, the other individual from Taiwan to make the Time 100 list. JT Wang did not go to New York to receive his award. This was consistent with his low-key style. But he was unable to hide his light under a bushel. Over the past four years, JT Wang's leadership has transformed Acer from the world's fifth largest personal computer maker to the second, behind Hewlett-Packard. Time magazine said the trend for the next decade will be the rise of Asian firms. These firms have demonstrated increasing refinement in marketing, design, branding, and other soft factors. JT Wang stands at the forefront of this wave of pioneers.
The Time 100 list shows Wang in the "leaders" category, in second place, behind Brazilian President Lula. He was listed ahead of fourth-ranked U.S. President Barack Obama, and sixth ranked Prime Minister of Japan Yukio Hatoyama. Acer has been praised for leading consumer trends. JT Wang responsded with modesty, saying "We do not rush to judgment. We merely respond to the consumer's needs." That an entrepreneur from Taiwan has been the recipient of such international recognition and praise has filled the public on Taiwan with pride.
Chen Shu-chu is a bodhisattva who works quietly. She is a diligent humanitarian who finds satisfaction in doing good. She preaches a philosophy of "accumulating virtue, not wealth." She unselfishly spreads love to the outside world. This humble vegetable stand owner demonstrated greater humanitarianism than many billionaires. JT Wang represents the wisdom and perseverance of entrepreneurs on Taiwan in pursuit of progress. He is careful in his assessments, and rigorous in his observations. He is never satisfied with the status quo. His is not arrogant. He considers the customer king. He listens to signals from the marketplace. Amidst fierce global competition, companies either move forward or fall behind. As the leader of Acer, JT Wang fully deserves his honor.
Individuals such as Chen Shu-chu and JT Wang reveal the Republic of China's true source of vitality. On Taiwan politics rules. Every day from dawn to dusk. mutual recriminations between the Blue and Green camps fill the air. These internal conflicts wear down the nation. One cannot help wondering how it can possibly endure? Now it would seem, the answer is clear. The Republic of China's vitality will be found not in the temple, but at the grassroots. The Republic of China's compass will be found not in the public sector, but the private. The Republic of China's ethics and values will be found not in the calculating minds of its politicians, but in the beating hearts of its citizens.
Chen Shu-chu is not alone. There are many unsung heroes on Taiwan, each quietly creating a better world, each protecting their weaker neighbors. JT Wang is not alone either. Other companies on Taiwan also have leaders with steady hands and lofty visions. Each of them in their own way, has been through hell and high water. Unfortunately the public is often unaware of their existence or underestimates their value. Until Forbes magazine honored Chen Shu-chu as an Asian humanitarian, her activities drew little attention. If Wang had not ranked high on the Time 100 list, would we have turned a blind eye to his efforts?
Chen Shu-chu and JT Wang are the "Lights of Taiwan." They have brought honor upon Taiwan. But lest we forget, their achievements did not become brighter merely because they were recognized by the foreign media. Their value predated their moment in the spotlight. People have been mesmerized by the political turmoil around them. They can no longer see the gems beneath their noses. Meanwhile, political turmoil has unnecessarily depleted society's energy, without offering one iota of happiness. Why does the public tolerate these politicians?
Vegetable stand owner Chen Shu-chu walked onto the red carpet wearing tennis shoes. She gave new meaning to the term "hero." She also let the world know that the righteousness people expect in life must be created by our own hands.
2010.05.06 02:00 am