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Chairman of TSMC expresses pessimism on state of economy

The China Post news staff--Morris Chang, chairman of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), yesterday expressed discontent with the government over the economic woes facing the country.

Chang let his frustration show during a company sports event in Taipei when asked by the press what suggestions he would give to the government for boosting the economy.

"What the government should — it's pointless for us to talk about it here. If they (government officials) are interested, let them come ask me," said Chang, one of the most respected figures in the semiconductor industry in the world.

Chang on Wednesday expressed pessimism over the economy when he said the "swallow" — his favorite metaphor for the boom times of the industry and overall economy — is unlikely to "return" next year.

Asked to make further comments on his "swallow" talk, Chang told the press at the sports meet that he was not merely referring to TSMC or just the semiconductor industry alone. He said he was talking about the U.S., European and worldwide economy.

Taiwan seems to be facing more difficulties after the United States and South Korea signed a free trade agreement (FTA) last week.

Chang said the FTA should have little impact on TSMC, the largest contract manufacturer of computer chips in the world. But he would not comment on its impact on other industries or companies.

Despite the foreseeable economic downturn in 2012, Chang said TSMC will not force employees to take unpaid leave or resort to lay-offs next year, stressing that the company has strong fundamentals and sufficient cash.

He said the company will still give its employees their annual salary raise next year, which TSMC has seldom failed to do over the past 20 years.

During the last global economic crisis in 2008, many Taiwanese companies laid off their employees or asked them to take unpaid leave. Some companies are also taking such measures in the face of the present downturn.

Chang said TSMC is keen to provide a good working environment for its employees and balanced life. The company closely tracks employees' working hours to make sure that they do not stay in the office for over 50 hours a week.

TSMC has a global staff size of 34,000. Some 30,000 employees and their families participated the sports event, the United Evening News said.

When asked to comment on the ongoing Occupy Wall Street movement, Chang said the widening wealth gap is an issue that must be addressed.

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