Your-Savings-to-Staffer’s-Pocket Taiwanese Style

Eye On Taiwan
Date: May 26, 2016
By: David Wang

The island nation of Taiwan is amazing in more ways than one. Its miniscule size, being barely visible on a global map, must not be equated to its capacity for deception or as Tonto (as well as many American natives) would say “Taiwanese speak with forked tongue” at many levels of the private and public sectors, which is actually not an excessive exaggeration.

Of course the above does not apply to the newly-elected Tsai Ing-wen, the first female Taiwanese president, with holier-than-thou London School of Economics and Cornell degrees, on record who was unemployed (or possibly unemployable?) for some 4 years but living large on a comfy handout from family, who dutifully and politically-correctly read each and every word from the prepared inauguration speech recently, having shown only a tad awkwardness as she had to refocus occasionally. One wonders what Tsai would have written for the speech had she penned it herself? But that would be demanding too much from her highness as she could have come down with a migraine from having to leaf repeatedly into The Dictionary of Hypocrisy, Platitudes, PC Phrases for Political Speeches.

Before the scandal surrounding the hacking theft via the SWIFT money wiring system has even sunk in the public consciousness, Taiwan’s own banking sector shows it too has capacity for wayward behavior, albeit without as much information tech but involving mostly old-school charm and charisma.

TV news in Taipei aired a brief expose on May 26, 2016 to show again the incredible degree of hospitality in Taiwan even in the banking sector, one that borders on personal attention and service to humble the likes of the PR managers at Hilton Worldwide and Carnival Cruise Line, not to mention inspiring them to stand up to take notice, as well as notes.

A bank staff at the Jih-Sun Bank, a relative latecomer to the sector in Taiwan, reportedly went to superhuman lengths to implement CRM or customer relations management. She spared no effort to offer to pick up children of her clients, a service that would have Jamie Dimon (CEO of JP Morgan) calling the Wharton School of Business to check if such attentive offering makes a difference to the topline or bottom-line.

But this bank staffer actually had ulterior motive, unsurprisingly, for even Mother Teresa would not go so far as to personally help those needy children and the impoverished balance their books.

Over a period of time and having gained the clients’ trust, she was able to even keep their passbooks and name chops (all that are needed in Taiwan to withdraw money from a third party’s account believe it or not), with which she then committed the most egregious cardinal sin in banking: to treat depositor’s funds as one’s own.

This bank staffer not only withdrew depositors’ money totaling a reported US$3.77 million but also stole their interest returns, terminated term deposit contracts, and made investments willfully.

A male victim seemingly in his 60s with a mask to hide identity said on TV that Jih-Sun Bank could be a “total scam,” which may actually not be far the truth for how can a highly-visible bank allow one of its own to run amuck with a depositor’s money. A bank without internal audit and controls can be loosely termed a “scam.”

Another brief report on TV said that Jih-Sun Bank is not profitable, or euphemism for it’s in the red.

Along the same vein of deceptive practices (another name for fraud?) in the banking sector in Taiwan, a neatly-dressed female banking staffer in her late 30s given the job title of investment consultant/PR officer said that her line of work in Taiwan is still more polish than substance, suggesting that her employer would have potential clients believe in the expertise and experience implied by the uniform. Another female staffer tasked with advising clients in financial products openly confessed to having little significant experience in the job save for a few years working for another local bank that had no interest in anything but life insurance, suggesting its antiquated mindset and lack of expertise in all-round financial investment.

Any client ready to invest in financial products in Taiwan based on the advice of so-called investment consultants in impressive uniform may as well call a shaman from the jungles of the Philippines or watch cable channels 91 through 93 (where greasy-haired “advisors” spew hot air faster than the Soputan volcano in Indonesia), or chuck darts at a dartboard, preferably after a 6-pack of Bud or several shots of 80-proof Jinmen fire water.

But what of the public sector? Surely the Taiwanese government, besides its staunchly Taiwanese Democratic Progressive Party members that seem to be obsessed with upholding the name of Taiwan as if it being the elixir to mend all its ills (including taking care of the family of 5 that could not pay even utilities to have committed mass suicide by burning charcoal as reported on TV recently), is on the ball to take the nation to achieve its next Economic Miracle.

And what better way to do that than rely on the time-proven technique of fibbing or as used-car hustlers worldwide call pulling the wool over the sucker’s eyes.

Mr. Gene B., a 64-year-old American the perfect negative stereotype with paunch and energy and intellectual prowess to challenge T-Rex, would never admit to having come to Taiwan due to inability to attract a female surprisingly came clean recently about his “stint” (aka combination of charity, corruption and charade) at TAITRA, the export promoter typically referred as semi-official in media for being partly funded by tax dollars. While not allowed to show up for work at TAITRA in Hawaiian shirt, Bahama shorts, he might as well have for he could have brought along a lounger and a picnic basket filled with ingredients to make Singapore Sling due to not having any work 99 percent of the time. Once in a blue moon he would be asked to “write” a blurb to promote tourism in Taiwan, a task about as taxing and original as taking siesta in Porta Vallarta. Think cut-and-paste.

Though he would not openly talk about why he was even hired for a superfluous job, Gene recently said that he and Mr. Curtis S., a Canadian and long-time TAITRA staffer not known for playing with a full deck, were told sometimes to pose as buyers to one of the many TAITRA trade shows. Mr. Curtis S. by the way can’t understand relatively common terms as “structural or load-bearing member” without Mary Poppins holding his hand to open the Glossary of Civil Engineering Terminology.

Gene, the enviable doyen of English grammatical rules, actually received a gold watch but not an Oscar when he was let go, which he said was due to influence-peddling and cronyism, unsurprisingly, so as to vacate his seat for one of the children of a government official. This “unemployed or unemployable” prince or princess (number of whom would likely be too high for the Taiwanese government to publish to save face) later had to be replaced in the age-old game of musical chairs. (or is that revolving doors?)

Mr. Curtis S. incidentally is the venerable master of turning Chinglish into “readable” text (aka lines of English that can be read without tripping over grammatical errors but not necessarily making sense, logic or related to the real world), in other words churning out reams of words promoting trade shows without verification of factual content, or being fabricator of hype, hyperboles, clichés and platitudes. In short, he is a bit player in a charade that is tax-dollar-driven to essentially deceive buyers and suppliers.

Some time ago, a major Taiwanese newspaper published a report that said throngs of grannies showed up in a trade show in China promoted by TAITRA that was supposed to draw hundreds of genuine buyers.

Such business model is unilaterally beneficial actually as TAITRA pockets rentals from various suppliers who pay for booths to dance all the way to its official backer and coffer.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said about the paying suppliers who swallow hook, line and sinker the hype and half-truths generated by the likes of Mr. Curtis S.

The content of this Op Ed is not the opinion of the owner, editor or staff of Eye On Taiwan.

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