Thu, Aug 25, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Take action against business scum

Richard Chang (張汝京), founder and CEO of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯), was given a fine of NT$5 million by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) for illegally investing in SMIC, now China's largest supplier of made-to-order chips. To avoid the fine, legal restrictions on Chinese investments and having to withdraw his investments, Chang applied in July to have his Taiwanese citizenship revoked, while keeping his US citizenship.

We believe that apart from such business scum, there are also decent businesspeople and conglomerates who abide by the law and cherish their reputation. Taiwan's government and media should uncover the vicious deeds of such opportunists to stop them from succeeding and make them the laughingstock of businesspeople around the world.

However, the biggest problem for Taiwan's high-tech companies is that tycoons such as Chang and Robert Tsao (曹興誠), founder of United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電), do not even have the courage to admit their wrong-doing. Instead, they have tried to argue, and publish newspaper ads accusing the government of political persecution in order to shirk their moral and legal responsibilities. Being such bad examples, one wonders how they can possibly ask their employees to obey company rules and discipline.

The government has always given preferential treatment to high-tech companies in the Hsinchu industrial park to nurture their development. Rents are lower than for the average citizen, cost for water and electricity are far lower than for companies outside the park, and annual taxes amount to next to nothing. Because the government over many years has adopted several measures to promote "star" industries, employees in these industries today get substantial year-end bonuses. Some companies even have enough money to take funds from their profits to set up educational funds giving them an outsanding image in the eyes of society at large. Now that the government is asking them to cooperate, it should only be natural for them to assist. People like Chang are shameless to the point where they reject our country.

The US, Japan and South Korea have already tightened legislation to stop high-tech companies from moving abroad -- to China in particular -- in order to prevent China from growing militarily stronger. But in Taiwan, the country most urgently needing to block high-tech and military components from entering China, government and civil society seem to care only about money, and ignore national security and survival as if it were some other country's problem. They seem to think that China never will understand how to use the products manufactured by Taiwanese high-tech companies in China for military purposes. It would surely be ironic if it could be proven that the missiles China now has aimed at Taiwan contain chips or other components manufactured by Taiwanese companies.

We might also ask why companies such as Nokia still invest in Northern Europe, rather than just shifting all of their operations to China, when Taiwanese businesspeople claim that moving to China is crucial for the next phase of high-tech industries. Also, why has Taiwan's Uni-President Enterprises Corp, after several decades there, decided to recall hundreds of Taiwanese employees from China? It is about the human factor -- investing in China is not the only way to make a profit.

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