Tue, Apr 10, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Businesspeople need a homeland

By Huang Tien-lin 黃天麟

During a discussion of the draft amendment to the Company Act (公司法) in January, Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) said that although Article 1 of the act states that the term “company” denotes a corporate juristic person established “for the purpose of profit-making,” its social responsibility is just as important as making money.

Tang suggested that the phrase “a company may take actions that promote the public interest” be added to the article to make companies fulfill their corporate social responsibility.

The term “corporate social responsibility” means that a company has responsibility not only toward its shareholders, but also toward other stakeholders when running its business. “Other stakeholders” include employees, clients and customers, business partners, and the community and nation where the company operates.

The term itself is nothing new, and the concept was strongly promoted in Taiwan 30 years ago. Unfortunately Taiwan is still one of the nations where businesses neglect their corporate social responsibility the most.

Late last year, a Taiwanese businessman was the first person to be caught selling oil to North Korea in the face of UN sanctions, and the case was an embarrassment to all Taiwanese.

It is tragic to see that this is how low Taiwanese business ethics have sunk.

Hon Hai Technology Group has had its subsidiary Foxconn Industrial Internet Co (FII) listed on China’s domestic A-share stock market, and the company’s initial public offering (IPO) was approved by China with lightning speed — a mere 36 days.

Normally, approval of a Chinese enterprise’s IPO application takes one year and three months on average, so the Chinese Communist Party’s preferential treatment of the company was clearly part of the party’s “united front” strategy.

Oddly, Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) suggested that Chinese securities firms should be invited to Taiwan to help Taiwanese shareholders in Hon Hai who wish to buy FII’s shares set up trading accounts that would let them do that.

In other words, Gou openly encouraged Taiwanese to move their money to China.

It would seem that this kind of business behavior — favorable to China and unfavorable to Taiwan — is quite natural in the mind of Gou.

Gou’s great talent is one of the reasons why Hon Hai Group managed to thrive so quickly in its early years in Taiwan.

However, other important reasons behind the company’s success are the contributions made by its hardworking employees, a supportive government and Taiwanese society in general.

Following its success, the group has employed more than 1 million workers in China, but only a few tens of thousands in Taiwan.

An old Chinese saying goes: “Businesspeople have no homeland and their only goal is to turn a profit.” Hon Hai seems to be a typical example of this approach.

If Hon Hai were to relocate half of its production capacity to Taiwan, it would receive even more respect from Taiwanese.

Last year, the group announced that it is preparing to invest NT$112.5 billion (US$3.9 billion) in the construction of a research and development center for energy storage cells in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province. As the cell sector is one of Taiwan’s strengths, one cannot help but wonder why the company would not make the investment in Taiwan.

Of course, many Taiwanese businesses attach importance to corporate social responsibility. For example, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s treatment of its employees, as well as its a sense of responsibility toward the nation, are well-known to all.

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