Thu, Jul 15, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Decisions on land use must be responsible

By Frank Wu吳豐山

The heavy rains and mudslides brought by Tropical Storm Mindulle raged through the center and south, and caused serious casualties and destruction. It's sad and even painful to watch the reports about the disaster areas on television these days.

For some unknown reason, the Taiwanese people have long lacked respect for professionalism. Not only have we not respected professionalism, but we have also had a neglectful attitude when handling things that we are not proficient in.

Due to other unknown reasons, Taiwan's society seldom values people who stick to their posts for long, believing that the higher position the better, as one can glorify his or her family through repeated promotions and rapid advancement. But what accomplishments does the person make? No one cares. Due to constant personnel and policy changes, the government's various administrative affairs are often chopped in half and can hardly be maintained.

Mountain and water resource management is highly specialized and cannot be achieved instantly. During the Japanese colonial period, a Japanese engineer, named Yoichi Hatta, was responsible for building the Wushantou Reservoir in Tainan County and the Chiayi-Tainan canal -- Asia's largest irrigation project at that time. The water conservationist and his family lived in Tainan, and he completely devoted himself to his work for decades. Today, it's Yoichi's statue that stands in front of the reservoir, not the statue of any governor.

Also during the Japanese rule, experts hired by then governor's office studied the possibility of construction projects for the Central Cross-Island Highway and the Taichung Harbor. The two construction projects were put aside after they concluded that such plans were infeasible. The Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) government, however, did not believe this and insisted on pushing the two construction projects forward. As a consequence, the Taichung Harbor has become the laughing stock of the century, while the cross-island highway has ended up in a miserable mistake. The two examples clearly show us how sacred professionalism is and how neglected it has been in Taiwan.

In terms of accumulating one's personal accomplishments, the reason is even simpler. In light of the high development of Taiwan's society, each individual can live a good life if he or she has a decent job. When we do not have to worry about making a living anymore, what should be meaningful to us is our sense of accomplishment and our contributions to society.

We can easily see that Formosa Group chairman Wang Yung-ching (王永慶) would never have achieved his accomplishments if he did not devote himself to his business for over 50 years. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co chairman Morris Chang (張忠謀) would never have built the world's largest semiconductor foundry if he did not spend half of his life on wafers.

Why can't high-level government officials understand this simple idea? After a century, who will remember those governors and ministers? Those politicians without any special achievements will only be buried in history, and their lives will have had no value.

It's impossible for us to restore the original state of Taiwan's mountains and rivers, and it will take us at least 20 to 30 years to effectively clean up the mess we have made. But if the Taiwanese people still do not respect professionalism, as well as how to make steady efforts to succeed in this cause, I am afraid that Taiwan will continue to decline and will never recover.

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