Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Quelled Surprises

On the continuing DEHP case, I can't seem to find it clearly and categorically stated anywhere whether the DEHP-tainted emulsifiers used by Yu Shen (昱伸香料有限公司), Pin Han (賓漢香料公司) and Hong Shing (宏星製藥) were manufactured in Taiwan or China. From reading the initial reports, I was led to believe that either the DEHP additive, or the final emulsifier product itself had been imported to Taiwan from China as the owner of Yu Shen, a Mr Lai, was said to own a "high-capacity manufacturing plant in Dongguan, Guangdong Province". More recent articles however, such as this one, seem to imply that the fault lies on the Taiwan side of the supply chain.

In noting that the Taipei Times has refused to publish my most recent, and highly topical letter, I wonder whether my reference to China had something to do with it: perhaps they now know that this was in error but are reluctant to admit it?

At any rate, the reaction by the government in having certain suspects detained and their property and assets seized disgusts me, not because I have any particular sympathy for Mr Lai Chun-chieh (賴俊傑), but because it illustrates the strength of the whip-like reflex from the premise that only the State can exercise effective responsibility over food safety regulations when, in my opinion, it is precisely that blind spot that needs to be brought into focus. The random inspections and licensing system carried out by any government agency would most likely be far more limited in comparison to that which could conceivably run for a profit by a certification company (e.g. similar to SGS). Could a marketized system of food regulation really work better? The phrase that comes to my mind isn't so much "quelle surprise!" as... "quell surprises!".

An entirely predictable, yet nonetheless unforgiveable aspect to this ongoing saga is that the premise of State regulatory power, the reflexive application of which is alreadly being brought to bear right now with seemingly little sense of measure, finds its most strenuous pulse, not among the governing KMT administration, who may be expected to benefit from such, but among members of the DPP; the party that would claim to be the voice of rational opposition. I agree entirely with the KMT Legislator Lin Yi-shih (林益世) when he says, as quoted in that Taipei Times headliner...
“The DPP caucus wants to elevate an issue to a matter of national security at the slightest [controversy]...They want to pin everything on Ma — it’s an absolute case of political manipulation.”
That's nothing but the truth, even if it did come from a KMT legislator.

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