Taiwanese audiences have been fascinated by the Japanese television drama Naoki Hanzawa, which depicts how a framed office worker takes revenge on his vicious supervisor, seemingly reflecting many people’s attitude toward upper management.
Naoki Hanzawa is a banker who is asked by his branch manager to be accountable for an unsecured loan of ￥500 million (US$5 million).
Facing the risk of being transferred and dismissed, Hanzawa does what he can to recover the loan, as well as hunt down evidence of the manager’s misconduct to prove his innocence.
Hanzawa’s best-known line — that the bad guys would “pay back double” — has been widely cited.
The TV series, which has been a huge hit both in Japan and Taiwan, appears to portray a common phenomenon in offices, in particular in East Asian countries, where lower-ranking employees have to take the blame for their supervisors’ bad decisions. Viewers can apparently relate to Hanzawa.
However, the most meaningful part of the story is not how the hard-working banker gets his revenge, but its message that people who do wrong must be held accountable.
A similar story is playing out in domestic politics as President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration can do no wrong, according to the government.
Manufacturers of substandard oil products are responsible for the recent food safety concerns, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said.
Criticized about the sluggish economy and failure to meet GDP growth goals and lower unemployment rates, Council for Economic Planning and Development Minister Kuan Chung-min (管中閔) explained why he did not resign: “You do not break a student’s legs if he fails to bring home the top student trophy” because winning the top honor “was only a goal.”
Kuan’s answer showed exactly why political accountability has suffered a serious setback in the past five years under Ma. Like Hanzawa’s boss, government officials can do no wrong and if something does go wrong, it is not their fault. After all, policy plans are just plans and officials should not have their legs broken if they fail to execute them.
That is why Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) still has his job, despite being accused of leaking secrets and why former minister of transportation and communications Mao Chih-kuo (毛治國) was promoted to vice premier, rather than stepping down after several major accidents and construction mishaps.
Looking at the more than 100 officials who have been in the Cabinet over the past five years, only four ministers have been replaced or have resigned as a result of failing to fulfil their duties: former department of health ministers Lin Fang-yu (林芳郁) and Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良), former minister of justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) and former minister of national defense Kao Huah-chu (高華柱). Some quit for other reasons, such as former defense minister Andrew Yang (楊念祖) for plagiarism, former justice minister Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) for alleged illegal lobbying and former finance minister Christina Liu (劉憶如) for ideological reasons.
However, none has done more harm to political accountability than Ma, who has not only refused to acknowledge failing to fulfill numerous campaign pledges, but keeps making new promises.
Perhaps he believes the saying: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
Ma has also had blind faith in officials with whom he has close relationships, ignoring their incompetence. The phenomenon has already spread from the central government to the local level, bringing about the complete collapse of trust between the people and the government.
The “crime” is there. Now is the time for Taiwanese to look for their own Hanzawa and have the bad guys “pay back double.”
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