Fri, Dec 27, 2002 - Page 8 News List

Only true repentance can save us

By Lin Duan 林端

Time magazine recently made a spectacular choice, naming three women -- Sherron Watkins, Cynthia Cooper and Coleen Rowley -- as its 2002 Persons of the Year.

As economic globalization continues, a conglomerate possessing vast assets could affect the world economic order. Watkins, a vice president at Enron Corp, and Cooper, of WorldCom, uncovered the massive accounting frauds at their companies, which went bankrupt as a result. Had they continued to be as hypocritical as their colleagues, the consequences might have been unthinkable.

Rowley, an agent with the FBI, sharply criticized the agency's hidebound culture and her supervisors who ignored her warnings of suspicious terrorist links and activities a few weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Look at what happened in the US and think about Taiwan. As the countries of the world become ever more inextricably linked, Taiwan -- like the world's other nations -- undergoes constant conditioning by the world economy and world politics.

In the face of the challenges brought by globalization and "risk societies," the only way to survive is to undertake constant reform and innovation.

Only by taking pains to discard bad old habits can one continue to achieve a new and better self. Only by destroying the culture of hypocrisy can Taiwan create a better future for its economy and politics.

On top of the political instability in Taiwan over the past few years, the economic downturn has gradually brought about social decline.

Theft and robbery now appear commonplace. People live in sadness and in fear, not knowing where their future lies.

More pervasively damaging than individual thefts and robberies -- but seriously neglected by us all -- are the crimes of white-collar workers who use their political and economic advantages for personal gain. Taiwan has for too long turned a blind eye to this clearly criminal phenomenon.

The people now in power built their reputations by uncovering scandals, but their administration has failed to deliver on various reforms and allowed Taiwan to slide in the international economic and political rankings without doing anything about it.

In the Legislative Yuan, the ruling and opposition parties are obsessed with their political tug-of-war. They are not only ignoring bills of vital importance to the lives of the people but -- what's worse -- using their legislative power to pursue personal interests. If this situation continues, the nation will fall apart.

The judicial branch seems to be our last hope for wiping out hypocrisy. So let's wait and see whether the unusual actions taken by the prosecutors in the Zanadau investigation are just a smoke screen, or whether they will catch the really big fish.

Lin Duan is an associate professor in the department of sociology at National Taiwan University.

Translated by Wu Pei-shih

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