Democracy of self-interest
The efforts to oust Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) from the legislature in the unprecedented recall vote failed, because only 25 percent of the registered voters showed up, instead of the 50 percent required as a threshold for recalling. Recalling is as difficult as a referendum.
This voting indicates that government officials once elected virtually attain tenure in their positions, irrespective of their performance. Many officials do not care what people want. Their priority is the interest of their party and/or their personal interest.
For example, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) used “the golden decade” as a campaign promise, but Taiwan has lost its status as one of “the four little dragons of Asia.” He wanted to “nullify KMT assets,” but he sold some assets cheaply and used them for elections. When political commentators questioned about the illegal contributions from large corporations in exchange for government favor, he sued these commentators instead of answering their questions.
The young people in the Sunflower movement wanted to talk to Ma, but he was more interested in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平). Now 118 people have been indicted as a result of the Sunflower movement protests.
As president, Ma’s main duties are diplomacy, defense and relations with China. Many officials in charge of these fields have resigned. China has drawn a defensive line close to Penghu, Ma cannot do anything. He has signed many agreements with China even if China has modern missiles aimed at Taiwan. His popularity has dropped from the most to the least.
Lean means less waste
Ko P’s — a popular nickname for Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) — rapid rise and his first month’s performance as Taipei mayor have opened many people’s eyes, including the international community. Other than his blunt style, straightforwardness and speed of action, his most prominent acts have been following a standard operating procedure (SOP) and saying that there is always room for improvement.
Actually, Ko P’s fondness for reading implies that he might have perused the latest in quality management books.Among them, there are books on lean manufacturing, a method which originated with the Japanese and has been widely applied in manufacturing and lately also to management. Simply put, a lean process reduces waste.
Before identifying waste in the process, current practices need to be identified and documented, and this is the so-called SOP. Ko’s most famous SOP involves the MG149 account at National Taiwan Hospital University, which was singled out by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾). One of Lo’s comments about MG149 was about the SOP, which had been revised many times.
As it is an account, she probably could not understand why an SOP needed to be revised so many times. In the spirit of continuous improvement, a process always needs to be revised to improve efficiency and leanness based on newly acquired data. An SOP is not a fixture, but a living document of current best practices.
As a quality professional, I find it amazing that Ko P is able to adopt quality management theory into political practice. He does not have the experienced politician’s baggage, including ideas of what can be done and what cannot. He does not follow the conventional wisdom of what a politician should be doing in a situation, but instead his only guide is his scientific training of how to create the optimum process.
The old Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) political system, which inherited a lot of Chinese court culture, always deifies the chosen leader. That is, the chosen leader is always right, and thus any decision or decree made by the leader is always right and cannot be challenged.
This explains why Ko P’s approach and actions really open up a window, letting fresh air into the staid and stinking air that saturates the political sense in Taiwan. Ko P’s actions are not new, but his application of leanness into politics is.
Shin Ta Liu
San Diego, California