Ting Hsin can’t buy its way out of trouble

The China Post news staff

Can the beleaguered Ting Hsin International Group, along with its magnate, Wei Ying-chung, buy its way out of trouble in the wake of the tainted cooking oil scandal? The food conglomerate has promised to withdraw from Taiwan’s cooking oil market and donate NT$3 billion to set up an independently run foundation to monitor food safety.

The two promises, looked at in monetary terms, mean that Ting Hsin would lose NT$2 billion in annual revenues from the local cooking oil market, plus a lump sum of NT$3 billion for the foundation. Many commentators have already pointed out that the sum would amount to only a tiny portion of its NT$2.5 trillion food empire, which generates most of its sales from the China market. The promises are a calculated move trying to ease public anger and prevent trouble from spreading across the Taiwan Strait to its business empire in China. It is also a move trying to prevent a long jail term for Wei if he is convicted. After all, judges in Taiwan are usually more lenient to defendants showing remorse. And so far these promises have been Ting Hsin’s only gesture of making amends for what Wei calls mistakes committed without him knowing �X apart from the apology the tycoon tearfully made to the nation.

But Ting Hsin’s damage-control gesture is underestimating the Taiwan populace’s anger and deep distrust for the company. Wei’s younger brother, Ying-jiao, announcing the promises Thursday, noted that ��no matter what actions we take and how hard we try, it is hard for the company to regain its reputation.��