Sat, Mar 30, 2002 - Page 17 News List

Chairmen debate rages on

DPP APPOINTMENTS A former chairman of a state-run industry warns the controversial `greening' of Taisalt and Taisugar will have serious implications in management

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The installation of DPP members as chairmen of Taiwan Sugar Corp (Taisugar, 台糖) and Taiwan Salt Industrial Corp (Taisalt, 台鹽) this week may have deeply upset company management, a former chairman of a state-run industry warned yesterday.

"All managerial professionals will be greatly upset since they now realize that they may easily be replaced simply because of their political stance," KMT Legislator Wang Chung-yu (王鍾渝) said.

He said the government has set a bad example by putting its own men in the posts instead of market professionals.

Wang, a former chairman of China Steel Corp (中鋼), with over 20 years experience in the steel industry, made the comments in response to the government's appointments of DPP Secretary-General Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) and former lawmaker Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清), respectively, as chairmen of Taisugar and Taisalt.

The appointments rattled employee and shareholder nerves.

The companies may suffer further if media reports that the two appointments are part of the DPP's plan to pave the way for victory in year-end mayoral elections, as well as the 2004 presidential election, prove to be true.

Wang said he agreed with the reports' speculation, saying that the "resources of the two state-run companies could be used to aid [the DPP's] political agendas."

David Hong (洪德生), the vice president of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, said the fate of the two firms may lie in Wu and Cheng's ability to formulate company policies and oversee company development.

"If they can learn the ropes of the industry soon, their inexperience and lack of industrial background should not pose a difficulty," Hong said.

Either way, both of the new bosses will have their work cut out for them with post-WTO competition, privatization, company transformation and business diversification on the table.

Hong, who also doubles as a member of Taisalt's supervisory board, criticized the appointments for what he said was the hasty and thoughtless manner in which they were carried out.

"[What the government] should have done is look for possible candidates for those positions, instead of filling those positions with its own men," Hong said.

But Hong praised Wu, saying he may be a good choice since he had shown good judgment when he ran a cable television company.

But Cheng's lack of industrial background has raised concerns.

Taisalt's president Wang Chih-hang (王志漢) yesterday said that the new chairman has promised to respect professional opinions and to steer away from political interference in the company's management.

"I've communicated with all employees that professionalism, not [politics], should be the company's main concern," Wang said.

Wang added that the company's short-term goals are privatization and the marketing of three new investment projects in technology and biotechnology-related products, which he said Cheng has vowed to continue.

Entrepreneur-turned-politician Huang Chung-yung (黃宗源), a TSU legislator, said that "industrial expertise and experience should be the top criteria for chairmanship choices."

He gave his endorsement to the government's overnight decision to name Yu Kuang-hwa (余光華), Tai-salt's outgoing chairman, as head of the Taiwan Fertilizer Co (台肥), saying Yu's 12-year success record can now be extended to another profit-seeking state-run company.

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