Our Vision, the Government's Implementation
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 29, 2010
Last Thursday this newspaper began publishing its 2030 series of news reports. We imagined how Taiwan might be 20 years into the future. We explored economic development, educational policy, land planning international relations, civil society, covering most important domestic and foreign issues. We invited scholars and experts to provide insights and focus regarding key issues. The 2030 series of special reports explored the issues in greater depth than other fora. It outlined a highly specific future for Taiwan. Of course we hope the current administration and future political leaders will carefully read our analyses, then implement our recommendations. After all, a better future cannot be achieved by individual members of the public on a piecemeal basis. It will require governmental authority and policy coordination.
The above reports showed that such positive visions reflect the subjective views of scholars and experts. They also reveal the shortfall between ideals and reality. Indeed, when people who care about education compare the enthusiasm of the 4/10 Educational Reform March of 16 years ago, to chaotic reform measures in recent years, how can they not feel depressed? We have been consuming our seed corn for the past decade, relentlessly squandering the information industry capital Li Kuo-ting and Sun Yun-suan bequeathed us. When people who care about the economy see how utterly incapable we are at establishing new industries with comparative advantages, how can they not be worried? The gap between the future scholars and experts depict, and the reality of today's Taiwan is too great. This raises concerns about the government's ability to realize our dreams for the future.
Pessimistically speaking, the rosy future depicted 20 years from today is a "pie in the sky." Everyone makes it sound so inevitable. But to realize the vision depicted, those in power, specifically the president and the premier, must carefully read what these experts have to say. They must internalize their recommendations, and treat them as genuine expectations. Those in office must think like executives. They must divide the work into manageable units, and after discussion and communication, instruct their ministers to carry them out. Assigning tasks is merely the first step in realizing the vision. The president and premier must carefully monitor any progress. Such persistence, perseverance, and close supervision was the key to Li Kuo-ting's successful promotion of the Hsinchu Science Park, and to Sun Yun-suan's successful promotion of the IC industry. Fail to follow up on the details, or to ensure close supervision, and the vision will remain a pie in the sky.
The issues covered in these newspaper reports were all major issues. Each issue includes many secondary issues. These also require the same perseverance to be successful. Take environmental protection, a big issue, as a way to address a smaller issue, "carbon reduction." Readers should have no trouble understanding that the key is follow through. In 2009, President Ma announced his vision for carbon reduction on Taiwan. This vision included reducing carbon emissions in 2020 to their 2008 level, and in 2025 to their 2000 level. But such carbon reduction goals are unreal fantasies. Achieving such goals would require the reduction of motor vehicle emissions, the introduction of alternative power generation, the reduction of industrial emissions, industrial restructuring, and the promotion of smart metering. To achieve these goals, the president or premier would have to rally the heads of the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the Environmental Protection Bureau. They would have to establish emission reduction timetables, and supervise their implementation, without relaxation.
This is hardly the situation on Taiwan. The president may have announced carbon reduction goals. The "Renewable Energy Development Bill" may have been passed. But over the past year at least, environmentalists have seen no concrete improvements in power generation, vehicle emissions, or industrial restructuring. Has the Ministry of Economic Affairs encouraged the public to make use of alternative energy sources? Is the public aware it can sell electrical power to government? Has the Ministry of Transportation adopted progressive vehicle emissions taxes like the European Union? The petrochemical industry has recently been a hotbed of controversy. What exactly is its position on carbon reduction? Shouldn't it make its 10 year carbon reduction targets known to the public?
A quick look at energy conservation and carbon emissions alone, and it is obvious the Ma administration lacks the ability to follow through on implementation. As a member of the media, all we can do is offer a vision, rally the public, and create a consensus. But any vision requires governmental implementation to work. This newspaper's series of reports is merely the first stage in a relay race. The next two or three stages will depend upon the government's administrative ability and strength of will.