Vision Can Overcome the Three Great Obstacles
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 26, 2012
Summary: Former Vice President Siew said Taiwan's
economy faces "Three Major Obstacles." He told summit panelists we must overcome these three obstacles. The summit arrived at three main insights. One. We must
confront the powerful waves battering us. We must have crisis
consciousness. Two. We must end the internal friction between the ruling
and opposition parties. Three. We must seize the opportunity, and take
"sword and sandal" type action!
Full Text below:
Yesterday the "Two Critical Years: Blazing a Trail for Taiwan's Economy" economic summit convened. Former Vice President Vincent Siew, the summit moderator, spoke and exchanged views with the panelists. He expressed anxiety over Taiwan's lack of economic growth. He revealed a feeling of urgency over the lack of innovation and change. He said he shared the same crisis consciousness as the other panelists, and the same desire to turn the tide.
Former Vice President Siew spoke of the "Three Mosts." He said Taiwan's economy faces "Three Major Obstacles." He offered a heartfelt reminder to summit panelists regarding Taiwan's political and economic future. He said powerful waves were buffeting Taiwan. He feared we were distracted by unnecessary internal friction, and might miss a crucial opportunity.
The "First Most" was the powerful waves that were buffeting Taiwan head on. Even President Ma did not mince words. He spoke of Taiwan's free trade agreements (FTAs) lagging behind South Korea's. He said we were not merely behind, but far behind. Taiwan faces serious economic difficulties. This was the independent conclusion reached by every panelist who spoke yesterday. Former Vice President Siew used a relatively mild term, "powerful waves." The summit used the term, "challenges." But to be perfectly blunt, the correct term is "crisis."
Panelists spoke of their shared crisis consciousness. They spoke of university graduates making less than they did thirteen years ago. They spoke of uncertain industrial policy, an aging population, a shortage of skilled labor, an out of balance educational policy, and Taiwan's potential marginalization. This is clearly a "perfect storm" in the making. How can people not be worried?
The "Second Most" is unnecessary internal friction. Yesterday summit panelists spoke, almost to a man, about "internal friction" and "wheel-spinning." Former Vice President Siew pointed to significant friction in three areas. One. Many government agencies lack crisis consciousness. This leads to procrastination in decision-making and coping. Two. Unfairness and injustice have undermined trust between the government and business. Three. Ruling vs. opposition party battles have mired Taiwan in a vicious cycle. This may be the most pertinent and exhaustive understanding of "internal friction." The first two are the government's responsibility. The third is the responsibility of the ruling and opposition parties. This should give those in office pause. Clearly decision-making delays and blocked communications between government and business are sources of "unnecessary friction." Ruling government ineptitude has led to unnecessary wear and tear.
For several panelists, internal frictions were their prime concern. They pointed mainly to political rivalry between the ruling Blue and opposition Green parties. Former Vice President Siew pointed to this as well. Morris Chang feels that the Blue and Green parties must at least reach a consensus on cross-Strait policy and Taipei/Washington policy. He pointed out that in the United States, the two major parties generally agree on foreign policy.
Vicious infighting between Blue vs. Green permeates Taiwan. It extends from national and constitutional allegiance to U.S. beef imports. Its battelfield is the Legislative Yuan. It divides society. It paralyzes national policymaking. As a result many directly identified the Legislative Yuan as the source of "internal friction." Clearly internal friction has become a serious burden on the nation and society.
Former Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hong Chi-chang zeroed in on "internal friction." His remarks echoed those of most panelists. He said Taiwan cannot afford internal friction. The two parties must end their confrontation and conflict, and replace it with dialogue. The ruling party must be a competent ruling party. The opposition party must be a loyal, rational, and responsible opposition party. Hong Chi-chang's remarks were greeted with unanimous applause.
The "Third Most" is the crucial opportunity that must not be missed. Democratization has many side effects. One is that differences of opinion make consensus difficult. Economic and industrial decision-making is often difficult. It often leads to waffling. We must not allow important opportunities to slip through our fingers. We must not allow each stage of economic development to go from bad to worse. Tomorrow must not be worse than today.
Yesterday when President Ma addressed the summit he stressed his "Golden Decade." But industry elder Morris Chang changed it to "Bronze Decade." Golden and Bronze clearly do not have the same value. Morris Chang's remarks were not intended to undermine self-confidence on Taiwan. They were his attempt to set forth a more realistic and reasonable goal. To posit an ideal they can realistically achieve. Indeed, after the "lost decade" the notion of a "golden decade" seems a tad like wishful thinking. But even a "bronze decade" can shine with a little joint effort. Therefore a less flashy "bronze decade" with its own unique charm is well worth pursuing.
Globalization has led to a dramatic shortening in the life cycle of industry. We must seize the opportunity to make the right choices. This will be the acid test for both government and business. The government may deviate slightly from its target or adopt improper methods. Such mistakes could result in massive waste or industrial stagnation. The Chen regime's "Two Trillion Dollars, Twin Star" policy was one example. In ten short years, a shining dream became the death knell of the DRAM and TFT/LCD industries. Two hundred billion dollars were lost each year, and no one knew how to respond. By contrast, the Ma administration's "golden decade," three industries/four modernizations, and free market island initiatives may sound impressive. But the lack of specifics or a program of action renders them hollow in people's eyes. The Chen regime's reckless overspending and the Ma administration's heavy-handedness are both perceived as reasons for our lost opportunities. It is time to batten down the hatches.
During yesterday's summit, the government and academia expressed anxiety over the pace of economic development. But no one was pessimistic about industry competitiveness, Everyone was confident that Taiwan enterprises were tough and resilient, that they had the ability to compete in world market. The vast majority believe Taiwan must remain economically open, that it must confront global competition. But they also think we must make shrewder use of economic opening as a policy tool. We should comply with the principles of free trade and reciprocity. But we must not impose excessive shocks on domestic industry. We must also stimulate domestic industry to ensure its competitiveness. This knowledge will help the executive and legislative branches in their decision-making and legislation.
We must overcome these "three obstacles." We must begin the "vision project." The summit arrived at three main insights. One. We must confront the powerful waves battering us. We must have crisis consciousness. Two. We must end the internal friction between the ruling and opposition parties. Three. We must seize the opportunity, and take "sword and sandal" type action!
2012.06.26 03:13 am