Why Do Officials Resign Every Time Disaster Strikes?

Can someone please tell the Mods why Taiwan officials, instead of committing themselves to turning things around, leave the mess behind and resign to save their own face? Isn’t that rather selfish on their part? The recent China Airlines crash in Hong Kong brings up some old wounds. The Mods want to rant about this topic but don’t even know where to begin.

If everyone were to resign from their jobs because they or their team screwed up, where would the world be today??? Is this a Taiwan-thing? An Asian-thing? Is it right? Is it wrong??

Your posting implies that resigning when disaster strikes is a trait particular to Taiwanese leaders. This isn’t fair. You don’t have to look far for very similar actions – take Japan, for instance, where JAL plane crashes and earthquakes have taken down public officials and private sector leaders in the same way.

Plus, one must factor in that many of these resigning officials are appointed to their posts. One can imagine that the “real” management pretty much stays in place. Consider that CAL is basically a government entity – despite it’s public listing. How does it’s management rotation compare to the turnover at large, family dominated concerns (ex. Koos Group, President). I’m sure very differently.

If USAir has a disasterous crash tomorrow (God forbid), and the heads of the corporation announce their resignations because of it, I’d be pissed. I expect those in charge to take charge, to get to the bottom of the problem, and come up with some answers and new solutions. It doesn’t matter if you are the of a family, the head of a company, or the head of a nation. If someone(s) you are responsible for is at fault, or makes mistakes, you do something about it. You don’t throw your hands up in the air and say, hey, I’m leaving this mess behind because it’s not my responsibility. It’s a cop-out approach to resolving issues, and in the case of political or corporate positions, the time it will take to adjust to the new administration/staff only puts the real problems on hold. This of course does not apply to those who are directly at fault, who have committed an act of crime, irresponsibility, etc., such as Nixon. The way politicians resign left and right in Taiwan is something which I still find unacceptable. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing, East versus West, etc., but I do know that in the U.S., people do not resign when things go wrong. The public may CALL for resignation sure, but here, whenever disaster strikes, the only real response I know I can rely on from those in charge is the announcement of their resignations in tomorrow’s paper.

I have to agree with The Mod. S/he does have a point. Nothing seems to ever be resolved, and officials simply get away with resigning while the problems still remain. I don’t recall this being a common occurrence in the U.S., which is where I am from.

I would agree that resignation is not something unique to Taiwan (more like an Asian thing), but it certainly does happen a lot in Chinese culture. Whatever the reason, it isn’t one of those good traits of Chinese culture, dare I say anything in Chinese culture isn’t good. In some other cultures, dare I say America as an example, a public official generally has the ability to screw up multiple times before he or she’s kicked out of office. When the poop hits the fan we expect things to be done about. We expect solutions. We expect people to “do better next time.” However, from my experience forgiveness is not a trait often found in Chinese society. “Gernally speaking,” everyone wants to be his or her own boss or petty official and envys anyone else with success or power. People here work overtime to tear other people down at the first sign of trouble. OK, this happens too in American politics, but not nearly as much here … This is why (I think) it is such a big loss of face for officials here. It sounds crazy to me, but the only way for them to save face is to whimp out instead of taking the responsibility to fix the problem, essentially denying responsiblity. Anyway, if you want to know a “good” book to explain this aspect of Chinese culture a little bit better, you can order the controversial book “The Ugly Chinaman - and the crisis of Chinese culture” from many bookstores in Taiwan. It is written by Bo Yang, a Taiwanese author who was put in jail by the KMT for 9 years for criticizing injustices in Taiwanese society.

What if the man of the house comes home and finds the house a mess?

Several local Taiwanese wives have asked me if they can resign from the position of “housemaid” under such a situation . . . .

I guess, according to the Taiwan government logic, it might be possible.

The question is: “Does this solve the problem?”

This is in stark contrast to the UK where nobody ever resigns.

Unless they’re caught with their trousers down on the heath.