Magna Cum Laude, from the Marie Antoinette School of Public Relations
It only took about ten days for locals to determine that an Industrial Zone pipe that was discharging foul-smelling waste water into the sea was the likely cause of the sudden death of 80 tons of fish along the central coast of Vietnam. It took another ten days for the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment to announce that the waste water pipe belongs to a steel firm under the Formosa Plastics Group conglomerate of Taiwan. While authorities were claiming there was no evidence the steel firm's waste water caused the massive fish deaths, the steel firm nonetheless deployed its highest level spin doctor to calm the concerned community.
Chou Chun Fan, the firm's public relations director, chose his words carefully:
I cannot assure you that the activities of the steel factory would not impact marine life. You win some, you lose some... Of course, we tried to meet national standards but we have to exchange something for the project. Sometimes, we can't have it all, we have to choose. You have to decide whether to catch fish and shrimp, or to build a modern steel industry.
It only took less than a day for the subsequent furor to force the firm to completely disavow Mr. Fan's comments. The next day he was fired, sent back to Taiwan (perhaps for his own safety), and expressed contrition:
I have to take responsibility for my action. I hope that Vietnamese people will excuse me for my statement. Once again,
I sincerely apologize to you.
Oh well...you win some, you lose some. Still, this won't look good on his resume.