Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mattel factory boss kills self over lead paint scandal

No one who has been following the Chinese toxic product scandals should be surprised by this.

The boss of a Chinese toy manufacturing company involved in a Mattel recall after its products were found to contain excessive lead levels has hanged himself, Chinese media reported on Monday.
Zhang Shuhong, a Hong Kong businessman in his 50s and boss of the Lida Toy Company in the southern province of Guangdong, was found dead in his factory workshop on Saturday, the semi-official Southern Metropolitan Daily said.
About 1.5 million preschool toys made by Lida Toy, a Foshan-based contract manufacturer for Mattel Inc.'s Fisher-Price unit, were recalled across the globe by the U.S. company last week.

I'll say this about far-eastern culture: Cutting corners, looking for an angle, and hustling to make a buck may be endemic, but when caught going too far, they're all about accountability. None of this North American paradigm of denials, heavy duty teams of lawyers, and trials that take years to drag out.

On the other hand, what choice did he have? He likely didn't fancy his chances once the authorities got their hands on him.

Bear in mind, none of this is a solution. Executing businessmen, or shaming them into suicide won't make the problem go away. The West keeps badgering Chinese manufacturers for more and cheaper goods, always with an emphasis on cheaper. Without the unrelenting pressure from retailers like Wal-mart to squeeze every last dollar out of a product, all in the name of savings, would we see manufacturers resorting to shoddy and dangerous substitute ingredients?

How much are we willing to pay for safe toys, toothpaste, or medicine?

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe the Chinese owner of the toy manufacturing company hung himself because he CARED ABOUT THE CHILDREN and WHAT WAS DONE. This is what I BELIEVE.