Sun, Jul 31, 2011 - Page 8 News List


Pledging season

In US politics, it is not uncommon to see politicians sign pledges on various policy platforms during election season so that voters can get a clear account of where the politicians stand on various issues and so that they stick to their word once elected. Last year’s primary season in the US was full of pledges, most of them absurd or too ubiquitous to have any real weight. However, in the case of Taiwan, I feel that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) could do a lot to assuage the fears of many Taiwanese about the future of Taiwan following elections in January next year by signing a simple three-point pledge.

This pledge could be worded along the following lines:

“I, Ma Ying-jeou, my party, my government and all its official and semi-official institutions hereby 1) promise to respect the Central Election Commission’s announced results of the combined 2012 elections and to not engage in protests or actions damaging to Taiwan’s democracy and its international reputation; 2) promise to not engage in any cross-strait negotiations or sign any deals with Chinese authorities, official or otherwise, in the period between the elections and the inauguration of the new president in May, should I and my party lose the forthcoming presidential or legislative elections; and 3) promise that the content of any political negotiations with China be made available to the public and that any political agreement(s) or peace agreement be put to a legitimately conducted national referendum, being only signed and ratified following the passing of such a referendum as by the law.”

Although I would be skeptical that this government and presidency would abide by these promises even if they pledged to do so, I think making the pledge in itself would ease the fears of Taiwanese and perhaps allow the election campaign to be about the substance of each candidate’s policies rather than a vote on cross-strait relations. This would go much further to deepening Taiwan’s spirit of democracy and Taiwanese faith in the democratic process than any number of hollow and conveniently timed announcements of love for and allegiance to Taiwan.



Overcapacity threatens

I was overjoyed when I read that AU Optronics (AUO) would cease their 8.5G capacity expansion plans in China (“AUO posts third quarterly loss,” July 28, page 12). It’s about time that one of Taiwan’s major tech players faced up to the reality of the nation’s increasingly pessimistic macroeconomic environment.

First, however, let’s talk about ProMOS, the “too big to sail” DRAM behemoth, currently floundering in an ocean of red ink. The ProMOS management, like many soon-to-tank Taiwanese IT firms, followed this “Woo-hoo! Growth! Growth! Growth!” strategy several years ago, which sadly will become their undoing.

Shareholders, get out while you can and leave the banks to take the losses. If you look at the fundamentals, ProMOS is engaged in selling outdated chips to a dying industry, namely, PCs, notebook computers, “netbooks” and other similar devices. Bank of Taiwan and Taiwan Cooperative Bank, get ready to write these losses off. You placed your bets on a three-legged horse with attention deficit disorder.

When the massively successful iPad began its dominant march, did ProMOS slow down? No. Its was the “3Gs” strategy once again: “Growth! Growth! Growth! Let’s borrow more money and expand our capital expenditure!”

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