Fri, May 19, 2017 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Embracing a tycoon as president

In November last year, shortly after Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the US presidential election, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) dismissed as a mere joke talk of him following in Trump’s footsteps and running in the 2020 presidential election.

The idea of letting Taiwan’s richest businessman, who lacks political experience, run the nation did seem like a half-joke at the time, but it is gaining momentum and could soon become serious.

It was rumored that Gou gathered his top aides on the day of the US presidential election, shortly after Trump started taking the lead, to ask their opinions about him running for president.

Gou has been mentioned by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) as a suitable person to represent the party in 2020.

The former Taipei mayor described Gou as the person most likely to defeat President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party.

Although Hau said if he is elected KMT chairman he would nominate Gou, apparently to prevent his opponents — most notably former vice president Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) — from using the chairperson’s position as a stepping stone to presidency, the proposal might force the victor of tomorrow’s election to take a back seat to Gou in 2020.

The reason is simple. Even though the KMT chairperson running for president has been a tacit tradition in the party, last year’s presidential election taught the party that it has to be realistic at a time when none of its top officials are presentable in a nationwide election.

The KMT was convinced that its then-party chairman, New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), would have a good chance of winning the presidency, thinking that Chu’s perceived moderate ideology and relatively young age would be popular among swing or non-partisan voters.

However, the KMT was wrong; Chu lost in a landslide.

Gou does seem to be a strong challenger to Tsai. About 37.6 percent of respondents in a poll published on Wednesday by the Taiwan Style Foundation said they would vote for Tsai in 2020. Chu received 15.3 percent as a potential KMT candidate and Gou received 30.1 percent as an independent, which means the pan-green camp cannot afford to be complacent.

Gou received the highest support rate among swing voters, at 30.6 percent, compared with Tsai’s 16.4 percent and Chu’s 11 percent.

While Tsai remained the most popular candidate among respondents in the 20-to-29 age group, gaining 43.1 percent support, the younger generation does not appear to shun the idea of Gou at the helm, with 29.9 percent preferring him and 17.7 percent choosing Chu.

If the figures are not enough to show that Tsai could lose the next election to Gou, consider a likely scenario where the KMT nominates Gou as its candidate.

The scenario, based on the poll results, would put Gou in an 8 point lead ahead of Tsai, with the lead expected to widen as the next election draws near.

It could cause Tsai to lose her popularity among young voters, who generally side against the pan-blue camp.

Given Gou’s close relationship with China and deprecation of democracy — he has said that “democracy cannot feed people” — the hypothetical scenario creates a scary picture.

People should brace themselves for the day when that picture becomes a reality.

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