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June 24, 2017

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Hotel tycoon says Taiwan needs more 'doers'

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- In a speech given at Academia Sinica yesterday, five-star hotel president Stanley Yen (嚴長壽) pointed out that Taiwan needs more "doers" and has a great need for public servants with international perspectives.

Stanley Yen, the president of five-star The Landis Taipei Hotel, was invited to Academia Sinica's quarterly conference yesterday to give a keynote speech titled "leverage to change Taiwan."

The speech was attended by Academia Sinica President Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠), Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) and former President and 1986 Nobel Prize laureate Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲), among others.

Taiwan has unparalleled cultural heritage among Chinese-speaking countries, Yen said, adding that despite being isolated in the international community, Taiwan has created economic miracles and established a liberal democratic system.

With a population of a mere 23 million, Taiwan should not compare itself with big nations. Instead, Taiwan should model itself after Switzerland and Denmark and aim to enhance its cultural advantage, Yen said.

Taiwan does not Lack Critics

Many locals have recently lashed out against the government for ineffective governance, Yen said, adding that he himself has also been guilty of lashing out criticisms. Yen said that Taiwan does not lack critics or those who are able to see problems. What Taiwan lacks are those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and execute to achieve success in their fields, he said.

In regard to the recent student protests, Yen said that he understands students' worries, but whether their means of expression was appropriate is debatable. He added that students should not take all the blame for resorting to violent means, for adults in Taiwan have done so themselves. Lawmakers set an example by forcibly occupying the speaker's seat in the Legislative Yuan. Teaching respect is what Taiwan's education system dearly needs, Yen said, adding that this requires efforts from teachers as well as parents.

Need People with Global Perspectives

Yen also expressed his concern for Taiwan's lack of "global perspectives." Some officials regard legislative sessions as more important than international meetings, Yen said, adding that "this just shows you where (their) priorities lie." In another instance, when an ambassador receives his nationals more eagerly than local officials, "it tells you what kind of role he plays," Yen said.

Many of Taiwan's limited resources are expended on "internal affairs," Yen said, adding that this is an incredulous phenomenon. Even when Taiwan has a deep pocket, it fails to recognize the most pressing danger, which is that Taiwan has not cultivated public servants with global perspectives. Taiwan must jump out of its traditional thinking, Yen said.

In his speech, Yen also referred to the highway system to illuminate Taiwan's democracy. In Germany, there is no speed limit on highways, he said. This, however, is based on trust and "tacit agreement" where people are willing to follow the rules. And this is exactly what Taiwan's politics lack. With the same system, without trust and tacit agreement, Taiwan's democracy and society are bound to meet challenges, he said.

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