Monday, June 25, 2012

Restoring Taiwan's Economic Preeminence

Restoring Taiwan's Economic Preeminence
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 25, 2012

Summary: The nation is beset by problems from within and without. This summit may be able to exert some influence. We hope the summit will inspire enthusiasm, thought, and team work. We hope it will inspire change and move Taiwan in the right direction.

Full Text below:

The "Two Critical Years: Blazing the Trail for Taiwan's Economy" summit convened today. It is Part Two of the "Two Critical Years, Taiwan's Preeminence" editorial series created by the United Daily News Vision Workshop.

The editorial series asks questions. The summit attempts to arrive at an agreement on how to transform the economy and restore Taiwan's preeminence.

Last week we published five daily editorials on "Two Critical Years, Taiwan's Rapid Transformation." We compared Taiwan to other small and medium East Asia economies such as South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong. We pointed out four facts. One. Taiwan's economy is rapidly falling behind. It is now bringing up the rear among the four Asian Tigers. Two. Taiwan's industrial upgrading and transformation have reached a bottleneck. We have been relegated to OEM status. We are on the verge of losing our industrial advantages. Three. The cross-strait economic agreement (ECFA), Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and "free economic zone" may be breakthrough policies. But they have bogged down and are now at a stand still. Four. Economic development requires people of ability. But we now face a brain drain. These four factors interact with each other. They have become part of a negative feedback loop that must be interrupted.

Since the publication of our special reports, the public has responded enthusiastically. Readers have phoned in and encouraged the UDN's efforts. Internet page hits have reached new highs. These reflect public concern over Taiwan's economic plight. Experts from industry, government, academia, and research institutes have made policy recommendations. They have directly echoed the aspirations of the "Two Critical Years for Rapid Transformation." They have weighed in on the debate, and strongly criticized TV talk shows for not doing their duty.

This is what the Vision Workshop hoped to accomplish with its "exert influence" initiative. Today's summit will become a platform by which to "effect change." We hope the participating leaders can formulate an economic strategy for the next two years, and contribute to Taiwan's progress.

The "Two Critical Years, Blazing a Trail for Taiwan's Economic Future" summit has other implications. One. This is not a top-down government project. It was organized by the private sector United Daily News Vision Workshop. It makes recommendations to the government and the opposition. Two. As soon as the United Daily News began promoting this project, experts from government, industry, academia, and research institutes generously offered suggestions and assistance. These experts include former Vice President Vincent Siew, former Premier Liu Chao-hsuan, TSMC Chairman Morris Chang, Acer founder Stan Shih, and other respected leaders. All were willing to participate. Clearly people from all walks of life are concerned about the nation's political and economic plight. They feel a sense of mission. Three. Taiwan's economy is beset by problems, from within and without. From without, the European debt crisis remains unsolved, and the global economy remains in turmoil. From within, the government and opposition remain deadlocked. The nation is spinning its wheels and falling to pieces. Rapid changes to the international picture have brought opportunities and challenges that our ruling and opposition parties have yet to face. The summit could not be more timely.

Participants in today's summit include experts from government, industry, foreign companies, and cross-strait organizations. They will examine Taiwan's opportunities and challenges. They will formulate practical responses. They will examine the issues from a strategic perspective. They will establish priorities for the nation's development. They will focus on what is most urgent and what is most doable. The talks will provide insights and provoke passions. They will help the nation and society find its way.

Many things must be accomplished in order to transform Taiwan's economy. Time is limited. Real results will require a concerted effort from all sectors of society. It will require an attitude adjustment from the entire system of government. After all, the summit is a private sector initiative. The real challenge is to inspire changes in the thinking of government policymakers. This change must begin from the heart. Only that can provide a basis for policy recommendations. Only that can become the most important force for change.

The public has voiced its objections and made its demands. The government must respond in earnest. One. It must not be overly suspicious. Governments often assume entrepreneurs only seek government benefits. This generates layer upon layer of bureaucratic hurdles. These bureaucratic hurdles waste time, manpower, and materiel. They also limit possibilities. The government bears responsibility for the prudent use of national resources. More importantly it bears responsibility for national prosperity. Therefore besides preventing corruption, it must rejuvenate the nation's economy. Only then will we have a future.

Two. Do not think too much in terms of personal advantage. The recent brain drain has government and academia deeply concerned. The Council of Labor Affairs may even be renamed the "Ministry of Human Resources." We should look at the issue from the perspective of talent development rather than working conditions. Business people are also worried about industrial development. Ministries and departments should have an Industry Development Division. They should give greater consideration to industrial development and not just industrial regulation. Before the capital gains tax was proposed some people suggested that the Ministry of Finance be put in charge of the capital market. But capital markets are not its metier. The suggestion may have be motivated by self-centered thinking within government ministries. Such attitudes have become barriers to national progress.

Three. Do not harbor a "shirker" mentality. Do not automatically say no to complex and difficult tasks. As Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou said, if one cares, then any task, big or small will be difficult. Because if one insists on doing a good job, the task becomes difficult. But conversely, if one cares, then any task, big or small, will get done. Because if one insists on doing a good job, the task becomes doable. Taiwan is in dire economic straits. But recall the history of Taiwan's development. When has Taiwan ever not been in dire economic straits? The question is not whether we are in dire economic straits. The question is how much we care. If we care , the task will be difficult. But if we care, the task will be doable. The government has no right to complain about the diffculty.

The nation is beset by problems from within and without. This summit may be able to exert some influence. We hope the summit will inspire enthusiasm, thought, and team work. We hope it will inspire change and move Taiwan in the right direction.

2012.06.25 02:54 am













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