The recent appointment of Vincent Chao (趙怡翔) to head the political division at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Washington has led to much unwarranted criticism. I was shocked to learn that many of his critics cited his relatively young age as a reason to question his suitability for the role.
In the increasingly complicated world of foreign relations, is it possible to have people of many years of experience out in the field? Is it possible to even fully train someone to navigate the international circuit? Does it necessarily mean that you will be the best if you had the most years in service?
I doubt it, because such logic does not exist. If you find rhodium in the dirt, you will refine it and put it to good use. A wise person would not bury it deeper.
Some might argue that existing staff would be unfairly undermined and disadvantaged. There are two parts to this. First, if a leader decides to favor a weak subordinate, the poor results will be for all to see. There is no way to hide this.
Second, improve the assessment system for all the staff, to ensure that every good deserving staff member gets recognized, groomed and rewarded. Every day, thousands of top people are headhunted, even from rival firms.
Does it make sense to not do that, because the new hire did not rise up through the ranks? No, you recruit them because their value adds to your company.
The current structures and limitations in place are often designed in the past to provide some semblance of direction and order. Of course, organizations should decouple the topics and tackle such organizational structures and guidelines separately.
However, they should not hinder anyone deserving of their chance to contribute and make a difference in the meantime.
In my time in Taiwan, I have met many people, across many backgrounds, political affiliations, social standing and made many good friends, mostly due to our mutual dedication toward improving the world around us and ourselves.
Was the color of political affiliation a concern? No, we pick friends based on their character, and only pick socks by their color.
I have had the honor and good fortune of meeting many talented and dedicated people, from all walks of life and professions. One of them was Chao, who was the Democratic Progressive Party’s deputy director of international affairs of when we first met. He was well-spoken, sincere, intelligent and a hard worker.
Great friendships are not forged over fancy meals or gifts. Instead, they are reinforced during times of crisis and toil. Beneath all excessive and inaccurate portrayal of a cushy job, hard work and mutual coordination behind the scenes formed the basis for all of my closest friendships.
Friends across political lines know and trust me enough to vouch for my impartiality on this matter. I vouch for my friends, their dedication and abilities, regardless of affiliation. We stick up for each other when one is in need.
Vincent is someone who deserves our support.
I need not belabor on how good he is. His abilities have already been highlighted by many and are plain to see. How many people would have garnered so many voices of support, if they had met with a similar challenge?
Even more so, international support, which is coincidentally a key requisite for the job. I have seen him excel in various assignments and roles.
He might actually be overqualified for the job. Fortunately, he is not someone chasing an impressive resume. I have no doubt he will continue to dutifully serve and prove his worth.
The world we live in becomes more complex with every passing day. If you have someone passionate, experienced and intelligent, I hope you would put them to good use.
Hold them accountable, push them to break their limits, but never kick them down and bury them.
Sean Bai is a former senior assistant trade representative at the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei.
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