From Policy Packaging to Policy Marketing
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 10, 2015
Executive Summary: The KMT was routed in the recent nine in one elections. One of the main reasons was that merely having a bunch of well-intentioned, ambitious policy prescriptions was not enough. Opposition obstructionism and defamation took its toll. The public did not appreciate what was being offered. No matter how well the policies were packaged, no one was buying them. The policies simply could not be implemented. The Mao cabinet should rethink its policy marketing strategy. Its grand projects cannot be realized. It should do something tangible that people can feel, first hand. That might get peoples' attention.
Full Text Below:
The KMT was routed in the recent nine in one elections. One of the main reasons was that merely having a bunch of well-intentioned, ambitious policy prescriptions was not enough. Opposition obstructionism and defamation took its toll. The public did not appreciate what was being offered. No matter how well the policies were packaged, no one was buying them. The policies simply could not be implemented. The Mao cabinet should rethink its policy marketing strategy. Its grand projects cannot be realized. It should do something tangible that people can feel, first hand. That might get peoples' attention.
To invoke a business metaphor, the Ma government has long been adept at "wholesale marketing", but inept at "retail marketing", and even more inept at "professional marketing". Officials love to publish policy bills that resemble encyclopedias. But they can't be bothered to consider variables or alternatives. Under these circumstances, the tiny defect in the merchandise will be blasted by the political opposition or dissenting members of the public. Every defect will be blown out of proportion, and the policy as a whole will be discredited. This has been true of every policy including the STA, the Cross-Strait Agreement Oversight Regulations, and the FEPZ. Add to this endless protests by highway toll collectors, the San Ying Tribe, property owners evicted for the Taoyuan Aviation City. All of these underscore the ruling party's neglect for “retail marketing”.
Long-term national growth cannot do without large scale infrastructure planning. Policy ideas cannot be dictated by populist demagogues dispensing political favors in a haphazard manner. If that happens, we are lost. But conversely, social development on Taiwan has led to great importance placed on individual rights and opposition to all-encompassing public authority. Such is the current atmosphere. The government cannot continue to offer only "turnkey" and "wholesale marketing" solutions. It cannot continue to insist on a simple set of rules that everyone must comply with. It must make concessions. It must become more detailed oriented. It must think in terms of "retail marketing" and "customization". Otherwise it will continue encountering obstructionism and protests, and end up butting its head against a wall.
Take the FEPZ policy, for example. Opposition obstructionism prevented its passage in the Legislative Yuan. As a result, one of Taiwan's key advantages was lost. Yesterday, Pingtung University Associate Professor Cheng Po-wen penned an opinion piece for this newspaper. He said that if only the government had first designated Kaohsiung a "pilot project", given the port city of Kaohsiung's advantages, it might already have made considerable progress. Instead, the government repeatedly expanded the scale of the pilot project. Eventually it expanded to include "six harbors and one airport”, plus an "Agriculture Technology Park". As a result, the schedule was delayed and the scale was too large. The all inclusive package deal led to differences in opinion, and compromise was no longer possible.
In fact, the FEPZ cannot possibly be so grand a project. Its vision far exceeds the understanding and imagination of lawmakers. Nor is it something people can understand at a glance. Worse still, layer upon layer of legislation turned it into an unwieldy beast, replete with political pork for special interest groups and corrupt officials. Add to this malicious opposition obstructionism, and suddenly this golden goose egg was no longer marketable. The Mao cabinet recently considered decentralizing the FEPZ bill as part of its "Five Points of Innovation". It would abandon the "special legislation" and return to the original scheme where each jurisdiction dealt with its own regulations. This was tantamount to skipping the "FEPZ" and adopting an economic "liberalization of the entire island" approach. But this also meant that the past two or three years of struggle to package the bill were all for naught.
The FEPZ is a major national economic and political policy issue. But it was "unmarketable" and "not passable". How well it was packaged was irrelevant. This was a painful lesson. Now take the anti-demolition protests by residents of Miaoli Tai Po, the San Ying tribe, Taoyuan City and other locales. All of them involved eminent domain land acquisition or demolition of houses. No matter how generous the government settlements, inevitably some would balk. They might have emotional attachments to the land, or other motives. All of them needed a more delicate approach and individual treatment. They were not obstacles that could be swept aside by "administrative law".
Government agencies like to settle all problems with rules. They like to claim that that they absolutely cannot "make exceptions." In fact, public authority has become devalued. If public interests lack a "customer service" attitude, endless troubles will ensue. Take the construction of public housing for the Sijhou tribe. A small number of Aboriginal tribal members found it difficult to obtain loans. The New Taipei City Government should not have insisted that all residents obtain home loans. It should have offered some units as rental property. Wouldn't that have been the best of both worlds?
When Chang San-cheng became a cabinet member three years ago he said, "If Chunghwa Telecom earned five to ten percent less, it would eliminate 90% of all complaints". Consider how much money Chunghwa Telecom earns from each family and each young person every month. Chang San-cheng's implications were clear. This year, Chunghwa Telecom's revenue exceeded 200 billion NT. Average year-end bonuses amounted to 6.6 month's pay. Chairman Tsai Li-hang even announced pay raises. But is Chunghwa Telecom willing to do anything to eliminate 90% of all complaints?
We are entering an era of diversification. The government must go from "wholesale-oriented marketing” to "retail services marketing”. A policy should be “marketable” rather than "packaged well”. This is a lesson the Mao cabinet must learn from the KMT's recent setbacks.
2015-02-10 01:23:26 聯合報 社論