I-Mei Foods GM heads Taiwan digital tech and gov't policy association

Digital technology experts to form new Taiwan digital technology association

I-Mei Foods GM Luis Ko (front center), GSS President Perry Chang (front right) and OleMap CEO Cheng-Hong Cho (front left). (By Taiwan News)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—I-Mei Foods Co. (義美食品) General Manager Luis Ko (高志明), who is also the Chairman of search engine company Openfind, gathered experts in the technology industry and academia to discuss the direction of a new Taiwan digital technology and government policy association (台灣數位科技和政策協進會) Saturday.

“The aim of the association is to serve as a platform to integrate technology expert opinions, and submit collective recommendations to the government,” said Ko at the association’s founding meeting that took place at the Gloria Prince Hotel in Taipei.

There have been a lot of similar technology associations in the past, but never a large consortium of tech experts to pressure the government with collective opinions to take action and make needed changes, he added.

“We need to just do it, and not just sit here discussing topics,”  said Ko.

“We’ve all been in many ‘NATO organizations’, No Action Talk Only, this organization will be action first,” said Annie Lee (李安妮), senior researcher of Taiwan Research Institute (TRI).

Ko specifically called to attention President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration needs to follow through on election promises, such as amending three-decade-old outdated government procurement laws, and shape up tendering processes.

The majority of 30 technology experts from industry and professors, such as Jane Hsu (許永真), Director of NTU IoX Center that joined the meeting agreed with the recommendations, with many pointing out Taiwan’s government policies and laws were impeding local technology industry’s progress and even driving down private technology company profits resulting in lower base salaries for university graduates.

Lee, who is a senior researcher at TRI, criticized the government did not acknowledge the differences between intellectual property procurement and industrial procurement.

Taiwan’s TEDx Ambassador and curator Luke Lee (李欣龍) noted that the Taiwanese government viewed intellectual property procurement in the same light as industrial procurement, while working as an information security consultant at KPMG 15 years ago.

Several senior business executives in the technology industry criticized government tender practices, as they often pressured businesses to take a 10 percent cut from sealed procurement deals, thus diminishing company profits, and even resulting in losses of NT$3 million-4 million (US$98,879 to 1.32 million) for companies that signed up, said Spark Wang (王泰元), Vice President of HYWeb (凌網科技).

“The government should not promise businesses a procurement budget, and then ask them to take a deduction in the final stages of the deal,” he said.

EFA Technology (曜發科技)General Manager Ider Chen (陳褘德) also agreed that such practices were particularly harmful to company profits, and that many companies still had to comply with government demands because it would affect their capability to pay employees salaries next month. 

He urged the government should take the lead in creating a healthy business environment by delivering the promised procurement amount to businesses.

Both Chen and  Inter Information (英特內軟體) General Manager Yuan Lee also noted Taiwan’s low salary environment was making it difficult to find and retain coding talent in Taiwan because of more lucrative salaries offered in China. 

“Even selling fried chicken fillets has become more profitable than being an engineer in Taiwan,” said Chen.

“The government should really raise the base salary from NT$180 to NT$200 (per hour) to solve this issue,” said Ko.

No agreements on the association framework nor priorities were reached at the meeting, although members agreed to keep the association an apolitical non-profitable organization free from the involvement of lawmakers. 

“We expect to finish preparations and officially launch the consortium within two to three weeks time,” said Perry Chang, President of Galaxy Software Services (叡揚資訊股份有限公司).