To clinch the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential nomination, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) on June 6 proposed a “backup mechanism,” upsetting the party’s heated presidential primary. This intriguing suggestion was of course aimed squarely at Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) and his supporters.
Gou said that if the KMT’s eventual candidate has to abandon their presidential quest, a backup candidate selected through the system could take their place.
Making such a suggestion a month ahead of the party primary was undoubtedly based on detailed calculations. Gou’s support is on the rise, while Han’s support is flagging, but whether their numbers intersect before the July 5 polls is not entirely up to Gou’s own manipulations.
Han has already taken steps to make sure that he continues to be heard; his weekend schedule is booked until primary day.
To become Taiwan’s richest person, Gou has clearly always been a step ahead. He is now a step ahead of everyone else in preparing an alternative way forward in case Han “temporarily” comes out on top next month.
It is like KMT Legislator Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said: After the primary, there is still the playoff.”
Whether Han will be able to last until Jan. 11 next year, or even until it is time to register at the Central Election Commission, is a question that continues to be asked within the KMT. Even if he does become the party’s candidate, he has many enemies who think he lacks stamina and could be pushed into a corner at any time.
It is being whispered that Gou made the suggestion to bring this view out in the open. It implies that if things become really bad, there is always a second option, and it stops anyone else from scheming and making their own plans. It is quite a strong move.
It is not his only move: Gou has also lashed out in a rare open attack on Han’s main supporter and sponsor, another of Taiwan’s richest people.
Gou’s explicit June 5 Facebook post called his target a “particular, extremely red, media outlet” and said their attacks on him proved that he is “blue” and not “red,” and that this was the reason for the attacks.
Gou also said that he “would not be controlled by the Chinese or be their agent” to imply that he is “not one of them,” which was sure to raise a smile.
This delineation shows that in Taiwan, it is not a problem for rich people to pick fights with each other, but it raises the question of whether there are even richer Chinese pulling the strings — this is what Taiwanese fear.
In this respect, the target of Gou’s ire has already gone all out, not only leading a delegation to Beijing, but also mobilizing supporters dressed in red at Han’s campaign events.
Putting his wealth in a trust means nothing. If Gou really wants to escape fears that he is controlled by China or competing with other China-based Taiwanese businesspeople to become their “appointed representative,” he needs to handle his Chinese investments and operations in a much more expert and secure manner.
Tzou Jiing-wen is editor-in-chief of the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper).
Translated by Perry Svensson
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