Government Food Safety Requires a Proactive Stance
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 15, 2014
Executive Summary: To solve Taiwan's food safety problems, one must leave behind
crisis management and political calculation. The food industry must
become proactive. The National Security Council must not be reduced to a
talk show. The President must not try to be a talk show host. Wei Chuan
must understand crisis management. The Presidential Office must
understand proactive strategy.
Full Text Below:
The Wei Chuan Corporation contracted out three times a year. This of course is not something that can simply be explained away as "poor management." Its actions have sparked outrage on Taiwan. Many people, including celebrities, journalists, government officials, and NGOs are boycotting the company's products. This newspaper recently criticized Wei Chuan in its editorials. We think the domestic food industry lacks social responsibility. Its indifference to Taiwan has ignited a firestorm, and it has only itself to blame. Following the Wei Chuan food safety scandal, President Ma Ying-jeou convened a National Security Council meeting. The council called for an "all peoples boycott of Wei Chuan" that left onlookers dumbfounded. Its action can be viewed from three angles. We hope an alternative to this populist and demagogic "all peoples open season on Wei Chuan" can be found.
First of all, the boycott of Wei Chuan-related businesses by the general public and talking heads is a perfectly natural social phenomenon. But it is inappropriate for the president, as the leader of the nation, as a patriarch to all the people, to goad 99% of the public to boycott 1% of the public who operated unethical businesses. Wei Chuan's crimes have legal recourse and administrative penalties. These are reasonable means the government can adopt that are consistent with the rule of law. In any case, the corporate staff, from the boss on down, are still people of Taiwan. The President of the Republic of China represents all of the people on Taiwan. He must "see the people as if they were his children." The educational world has a slogan: "No child left behind." Even gang members and junkies are not excluded. The Head of State represents everyone in the country. He cannot treat some people as if they were "The Others." That is the proper attitude for a patriarch.
Secondly, the National Security Council made a great show of discussing food safety. Its conclusion was a myopic "all peoples' boycott." It merely highlighted the Ma administration's myopia about national security. Taiwan's food safety may be poor. But at least it is better than food safety management on the Mainland. Mainlanders take advantage of this when they travel to other regions. When they visit Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, or other locales, they stock up on milk powder and other goods. As we can see, 1.4 billion people have doubts about food safety on the Mainland. Information about food safety on Taiwan is readily available. We could well become a successful repackager, certifier, recorder, and quality control center for many consumer products sold to 1.4 billion Chinese.
Over the past two years, three food safety crises have erupted. The government on Taiwan has an opportunity to turn a crisis into an opportunity. It has an opportunity to certify and provide information about key food products, including milk powder, cooking oil, and banned ingredients. It has an opportunity to estabish Taiwan as a leading certifier of product quality in the Chinese food market. Those in office must be proactive about the food industry. Otherwise they will be reduced to passively coping with food safety incidents again and again. Such an approach lacks vision. It also leaves one running on a treadmill, as a perpetual victim of changeable public opinion. The recent National Security Council call for an "all peoples boycott of Wei Chuan" is a case in point.
Finally, we must say a few words about Wei Chuan. The Wei brothers were able to establish themselves on the Mainland over the past 30 years. This means they possess the extraordinary ability to manage costs and develop markets. But this sort of money sensitive business ability that chases after low overhead costs, is also what got the company into its current crisis. The Wei brothers may resign their chairmanships. They may shed tears. But neither will them the forgiveness of the Taiwan public. Only practical action, sincerity, and a determination to contribute to Taiwan society can do the trick. The Wei family could donate a third or even half of its family assets to establish a Food Safety Fund on Taiwan. It could appoint persons to manage it in the name of social justice. It could help Taiwan build the world's best food safety testing, certification, company database, raw material control, quality certification, and cloud database. That would help ameliorate their transgressions. That would help society get past the incident and make new breakthroughs. Wherever one falls, one must get up. The illicit profits made by selling tainted foodstuffs should be used to establish a "Food Safety Cloud." That may be the only way to win back the hearts and minds of the Taiwan public.
In short, to solve Taiwan's food safety problems, one must leave behind crisis management and political calculation. The food industry must become proactive. The National Security Council must not be reduced to a talk show. The President must not try to be a talk show host. Wei Chuan must understand crisis management. The Presidential Office must understand proactive strategy.
2014.10.15 02:04 am
首先，對於頂新與味全相關事業，民間的抵制與名嘴的批評都是社會情緒的自然呈現；但是總統作為國家的領導人、全民的大家長，卻不適合呼籲九十九％的多數人民去抵制一％表現不佳的少數不良企業。頂新的過錯，可以有司法追訴、有行政裁罰，這些都是政府合理的法治手段；但是無論如何，該企業上自老闆下至員工終究還是台灣人民。中華民國總統對於所有的台灣人民，還是要有「視民如子」的胸襟與高度。教育的標準口號是「不放棄任何一個孩子」（no child left behind），即使是混幫派、吸毒品的也不例外；國家元首對於全國人民，當然也不可以把他們打為異類。這是身為大家長的應有高度。