On the morning of March 18, President Tsai Ing-wen went to Taichung to attend a ceremony in which the 19th president of the Entrepreneur Club handed over the post to the 20th president. While there President Tsai stressed that the government is going to attach increased importance to development in the Taichung-Changhua-Nantou region, and urged all members of the Entrepreneur Club to once again assist in Taiwan's economic development.
In remarks, President Tsai first thanked departing President Cheng Sen-mei (鄭森煤) for his leadership of the Entrepreneur Club over the past year. Thanks to his efforts, she said, the Entrepreneur Club has continued to function as a platform that builds cohesion within the local business community so that everyone can work together for the future of Taiwan's economy.
President Tsai stated that Mr. Cheng, who is the president of Taiwan Paiho Limited, has relied on teamwork, working with his brothers to build a world-renowned brand in velcro loops and webbing, which are not what one would normally think of as high-profile products. His company today is a key part of the global supply chain for sports shoes. Now that Mr. Cheng is stepping down as president of the Entrepreneur Club, we look forward, she said, to seeing him pass on his experience to a younger generation, thereby helping more local companies become "hidden champions" just like Paiho has done.
President Tsai also congratulated Weltrend Semiconductor CEO Sam Lin (林錫銘) on taking over as president of the Entrepreneur Club. In addition to having formidable expertise in his company's main line of business—integrated circuits—Mr. Lin also has many keen insights regarding the overall direction of national development, said the president, who expressed hope that the Entrepreneur Club under his leadership will continue to provide the government with valuable suggestions.
Noting that Mr. Lin often gives locally produced agricultural products as gifts to clients and shareholders, President Tsai said that if this habit could, via the medium of the Entrepreneur Club, start to trend throughout the larger business community, Taiwan's agricultural sector would have more opportunities to innovate and develop. This would be great to see, she noted.
President Tsai pointed out that most Entrepreneur Club members are manufacturing firms in the Taichung-Changhua-Nantou region. Each company has worked away in its chosen field for many years and overcome countless difficulties before establishing a leading position for itself. They have built brands that are now household names —such as Giant (Bicycle Inc.), Champion (Building Materials CO., Ltd.), Johnson (Health Tech CO., Ltd.), and 85°C (Bakery Café) —and established themselves as indispensable to global supply chains for the manufacture of mobile devices, computers, and automobiles. Down-to-earth, focused, and innovative—these are the defining characteristics of Entrepreneur Club members.
President Tsai mentioned that at the Entrepreneur Club's presidential handover ceremony in 2016 she had said, "The Entrepreneur Club spirit is the spirit Taiwan needs to break through its difficulties." Today, Taiwan's economy is starting to show signs of recovery. At this key juncture, as the economy begins to climb out of its trough, we need all the more for all Entrepreneur Club members to once again assist in Taiwan's economic development.
President Tsai stated that the government is currently doing all it can to promote economic transformation. Two major projects are now being carried out in the greater Taichung area, involving smart machinery and local production of fighter jets. These projects will spur an upgrading of local industries and generate many more good job opportunities. The president invited the business leaders in her audience to take part in the big undertaking so that Taiwan's factories can aggressively install smart production facilities to improve the quality of products and services while simultaneously supporting the development of local machinery industries. She also encouraged her listeners to interact with local schools and develop a diverse range of projects involving cooperation between industry and institutions of education, so as to generate more internship opportunities and cultivate a new generation of talent for central Taiwan.
President Tsai stated that the manufacturing sector is a key driver of Taiwan's economic development. If manufacturing firms can remain innovative and are willing to continually invest in human resources, Taiwan's long-term competitiveness will be assured. As long as companies are determined to upgrade themselves, the government will serve as everyone's best behind-the-scenes supporter by ensuring stable supplies of water and electricity, by inventorying idle industrial lands and finding productive uses for them, and improving the efficiency of land matchmaking. And the government will provide tailor-made services to support important investments.
The president also mentioned that the Executive Yuan is going to launch a forward-looking infrastructure development plan that puts special stress on development in the Taichung-Changhua-Nantou region, which will result in much more fully developed rail, water supply, digital and new energy systems in central Taiwan. More than just a means of revitalizing the economy, the forward-looking infrastructure development plan is, more importantly, something that the government hopes to take advantage of to build a foundation for Taiwan's ongoing development so that the country will be prepared for the next round of competition with the rest of the world.
President Tsai pointed out that central Taiwan will play a much more important role in this new phase. In particular, the region has many small and medium enterprises with capacity for manufacturing and innovation, so they cannot be taken lightly.
The president stated that she once saw an article about a Changhua-based zinc alloy factory where the first- and second-generation proprietors collaborated to obtain industrial design resources and build up brand name recognition. The brand name in question is "no. 30." The fundamental objective of our policy on industrial innovation, the president said, is to facilitate the many firms scattered about in cities and around the countryside to capitalize on their own unique strengths, just like the zinc alloy factory has done.
Noting that Entrepreneur Club members are all leading companies with a combined market capitalization of more than NT$2 trillion, President Tsai expressed hope that the Entrepreneur Club can act as a bellwether and lead suppliers of all sizes in a concerted effort to achieve their goals.
In addition, turning to the topic of recent reactions in the business community about the issue of adapting to new five-day workweek rules known as the "one fixed day off, one flexible rest day" scheme, President Tsai stated that the current Labor Standards Act already has flexible provisions pertaining to such matters, but people in the past weren't familiar with those provisions and therefore didn't take proper advantage of them. The president therefore called on management and labor to engage in more communication and devise the best possible work schedules in light of current regulatory provisions, so that companies won't see their burdens increase too much and laborers will have better opportunities for rest. At the same time, the president expressed hope that management can act in a spirit of solidarity with labor to better understand working environments and pay conditions. She urged everyone to work together and consider the human resources and operating methods that are needed to ensure current and future industrial development, so the application of related systems will usher human resource utilization and labor rights safeguards into a new phase. The president indicated that the government will not evade its responsibilities, but will without fail find a way to achieve a win-win-win situation, where industry achieves sustainable development, labor rights are safeguarded, and the country's economy advances further.
And finally, President Tsai called on the public and private sectors to work with concerted efforts to help Taiwan "move ahead to a new era." She also expressed hope that the Entrepreneur Club, under the leadership of its new President Lin, will operate smoothly while its members enjoy outstanding business success.