Well, a lot of it really has to do with the system.
No-one's taught to take responsibility here, as their parents are always there to help out and look after them, I mean for crying out loud, 30 year olds (and even 40+ in some cases I know) are still living at home with their parents! No wonder things are the way they are. Where I come from everyone starts to think something's wrong if you haven't moved out of your parents by the time you're in your mid 20's if not earlier.
Education starts in the home, not in school as they seem to think here and imho most people here with a degree seems to have acquired no knowledge whatsoever.
I still believe most people are the same when they start out in life, as if you take a person born in this country and place them somewhere else in the world while they're growing up, they're not going to be like a person growing up here.
I think much of it comes down to a lack of pride, people here aren't proud over what they accomplish. This isn't helped by the idea that if you're not number one, you're a nobody and there's no wonder there are so many people killing themselves here.
This is way off topic now though, but I have meet people here that are very good at their jobs and people that have just ended up in the wrong position in the wrong company in the wrong industry... yet somehow no-one seems to notice...
With regards to construction and workmanship here, it kind of goes back to the whole thing about cheap is good which seems to be a mantra here. It's something I'm dealing with on a nearly daily basis as the Taiwanese have become experts on "cost down" no matter if it's needed or not. Most companies here seems to believe that if you have the cheapest product, then you have the best product, something I never understood.
Don't even get me started on the so called police here or having to deal with government agencies here, inefficiency seems to be their motto along with giving you the run around as soon as you have to provide them with anything more than the most basic of information. I can see why accounts here charge what they charge, it's not that it's rocket science to fill out a couple of forms, but getting all the papers with the right stamps are a real pain in the backside.
Anyhow, I do believe it's possible for things to change here, but it's going to take a couple of generations and some harder times, as looking at the current teenage generation (which they apparently call the tofu generation) they have never had to do anything their entire lives and as such they're not prepared to become adults. I guess having grown up on the country side makes me a bit different, but I had to help out back home since I was a kid, it was just part of life and I was never given a choice. In as much as I hated it back then, I think at least it prepared me a little bit for working life. I got myself summer jobs as a teenager to be able to buy whatever I wanted to get, as my allowance wasn't very much. And no, I'm not that old and I can't say we were poor either, but my old man was pretty strict back then.
I think a lot of people just take things for granted and there really is a viscous circle here with over protective parents that only wants you to study so you can get good grades, a school system that force feeds you information rather than educates you and a working environment where the company only wants you to do one or two very specific tasks. You mentioned you'd been to Sweden, well, us Swede's are generally encouraged to enjoy our childhood for as long as possible, we're taught things in school, at least if we're lucky enough to have good teachers of which I had a few and our employers are actively seeking to further educate us and make us a more valuable asset to their business. It's not all about money, again something Taiwan needs to learn, as many incentives businesses give in Sweden include paid holidays, parental leave, further education and development within the company. Of course, some jobs have limitations in terms of where you can go, but you're always encouraged to become better at your job, as no company in Sweden wants employees that just do their job and nothing more, as they'd see that as a waste of investment.