Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Toyota recall and the culture of public apologies

No doubt you have been inundated by the daily news on Toyota seemingly recalling every single car that it has ever produced and the resulting damage to its share price wiping out a cool US$31bn (which by the way can feed the 1bn people who live in hunger globally for 6 months)  in market value. A media storm portraying a company, which once upon a time could do no wrong, into a slow moving monster in permanent denial of vehicles having problems. Now it feels like every Toyota car out there is unsafe. But before this media induced hysteria, did you hear anything about any increase in accidents involving Toyota cars or your friends saying their Camrys are breaking down all the time? Probably not.

In fact all we heard about was LPG taxis breaking down and running without brakes after refilling at Petrochina LPG stations on New Year's day. No organization have come out and claim responsibility and investigation seems to be taking forever. And one would not expect to hear any public apologies similar to those given by Toyota's chairman twice since the recalls. The more likely scenario will be for the taxi driver who first reported the incident to be roundup in jail next time he visits his family in the mainland. The logic is simple. The act of highlighting the problem of an SOE (State Owned Enterprise) will destabilize the China government and as damaging as divulgence of state secrets. This may sound absurd from where you are reading but this conforms with the Chinese rule of law and culture, those that Google and any other organizations operating in China are expected to follow. The guy who first highlighted the whole "Tofu Residual Construction" 豆腐渣工程 in Sichuan has just been sentenced to 5 years in jail. He follows a long lineage of subversives destabilizing the government for example the guy who first highlighted the pollution by factories along Lake Tai 太湖 suffered similar fate.
We never hear public apologies in China because there were no wrongdoings and hence there were nothing to be sorry about. "Tofu Residual Construction" is perfectly kosher, as long as there's a need of low cost construction and construction firms can reap a justifiably huge margin. Pollution of Lake Tai was an even more clear cut case where everybody have been dumping rubbish for the last thousand years and was never a problem.

Such a global and massive recall of vehicles will never happen to a Chinese car company because every car leaving the production line will conform to a certain standard and that standard will be adjusted as required. Any claims of sub-standard products from China are simply malicious attacks on the Chinese people.

Mum recently got given some beautiful candies from Japan. The packaging and presentation epitomize products from Japan. While we cannot share the candies, lets salivate over their pictures.

No comments:

Post a Comment