Tycoon’s complaint of poor efficiency receives prompt response


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Group Chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) voiced his frustration at the inefficient way in which Taiwan’s government approves major construction projects on Tuesday, saying unless absolutely necessary, he would “try his best not to return to Taiwan.”

Gou was complaining about the start of a project to build a modern medical center in Taipei that he said has been delayed repeatedly by bureaucratic red tape.

“If administrative efficiency in Taiwan does not improve, we will fall behind the United States by a very very big margin,” he said at a ceremony to launch the building of an advanced cancer treatment center he donated to National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH).

“I know it is useless to talk about many things given the current situation in Taiwan. Let’s just try to get things done instead,” said Gou, who presides over the world’s largest contract electronics making business, which pays NT$10 billion (US$330 million) in taxes to the government annually.

In response, a senior Ministry of Health and Welfare official said the project’s management team had repeatedly requested changes to the center’s design and other details, “but the requests have invariably been approved within about a month.”

Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), director of the ministry’s medical affairs department, said NTUH first applied to set up a cancer center in 2009, receiving approval the following year; an additional application to establish advanced cancer treatment units in May 2013 was given a green light in October of the same year.

Between 2010 and 2017, the project managers made at least six requests to change designs, floor plans and bed numbers — requests that have invariably been granted in about one month, Shih said.

Shih said he “humbly accepts” Gou’s criticism about government efficiency and promised to engage in “self reflection” — though, he added, Gou might not be targeting the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Although the target of Gou’s ire was unclear, when asked by the media to comment Economics Minister Lee Chih-kung (李世光), said the ministry has always maintained close contacts with the business sector and set up a “one stop” service center to process all applications for major investments in Taiwan.

This center offers tailor-made services for investors, with an ad hoc team devoted to facilitating speedy approval of investment proposals worth NT$500 million or more, said the minister.

Chen Tain-jy (陳添枝), minister of national development, dismissed Gou’s complaint as the “venting of frustration,” believing Gou is just concerned about Taiwan’s future and will always do what is best for the country despite his complaints.

“I believe he is not the only one in the business community who is worried that the government is not making quick enough progress. They all love Taiwan, and they will keep investing in Taiwan,” Chen said.

Rock Hsu (許勝雄), chairman of the Taipei-based Chinese National Federation of Industries, reminded the government that it is responsible for providing an investment-friendly environment by improving administrative efficiency, though businesses also needs to do its part to upgrade efficiency.

From the federation’s standpoint, Hsu said Taiwan needs to improve legislative efficiency so the country has a “simplified and convenient” regulatory system that helps raise overall efficiency. “This is an endless job,” he said.