In politics, Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) is a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) heavyweight who has mas-terminded clearly thought-out campaign strategies and reform plans from behind the scenes. But as chairman of the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp (台灣證交所), Wu is an undaunted dealmaker and reformer, who vows to stand up against poor corporate performers and to maintain law and order on the bourse.
"I am well-suited to play the role of bad cop since I have a dark complexion, which my Mom is to blame for," said Wu, who likes to joke about his not-so-attractive looks while puffing on a cigarette.
One month after taking office, Wu shocked his 500 employees by ruthlessly shoving eight vice presidents, all aged over 55, into early retirement without any warning, and announcing 30 older employees would be laid off each year.
"Young talent should be recruited to bring in new ideas," Wu said. "What I place emphasize on for employees is more aggressiveness than experience."
Wu said he was astonished to discover that the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp had not recruited new employees for 10 years, and so he hopes to inject "new blood" into the quasi-governmental body.
"My goal is to run the bourse like a business -- as far from a quasi-governmental institution as possible," Wu said.
Wu may be a ruthless boss, but his vision is to build a stock exchange platform that uses international standards, and to ensure that all listed companies accurately file accurate financial reports.
In less than five months, Wu has made headway in combating financial crimes. In the wake of the Procomp Informatics Ltd (
"The way he handled these defaulted companies was quite impressive and straightforward," said William Lin (林蒼祥), a finance professor at Tamkang University, praising the move to tighten monitoring rules.
Lin also praised the way Wu took the initiative in disclosing Summit Computer Technology's (皇統科技) financial manipulations, so that individual investors -- who make up 75 percent of the nation's stock investors -- would not be hurt too badly since better-informed institutional investors and traders often dump shares beforehand.
"His efforts to attract talented people to the bourse, accelerate its internationalization and protect individual investors, who are usually less informed, should be recognized," Lin said.
To improve the capital market's health and set up an early-warning system, Wu plans to have the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp revise its contracts with listed companies in order to impose greater liabilities on everyone who helps compile the companies' financial reports. He also wants the bourse to have more power to review listed company's financial reports for irregularities.
Despite his accomplishments on the job, Wu's outspokenness and his lack of job credentials for the NT$5 million post still raise eyebrows.
Market watchers consider him to be the most powerful exchange chairman in a decade -- because of his political influence, not his professionalism. He is regarded as President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) proxy, keeping an eye on the more than 600 listed companies.
But DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠), who belongs to Wu's New Tide faction (新潮流) in the party, has a different take.