When Hon Hai Precision Industry chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) announced his presidential bid wearing a baseball cap with the national flag on it last month, I predicted that a war between Gou and Want Want Group chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) — the two richest men in Taiwan — was inevitable.
As expected, Gou’s announcement has split Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) fans into two camps. Pan-blue camp supporters in northern Taiwan, who are sometimes called “intellectuals,” have switched from Han to their new master, Gou, while those in southern Taiwan, sometimes referred to as grassroots supporters, continue to pledge their loyalty to Han. This southern force is characterized by a blind admiration and they can be combative, even condemning formerly revered blue-camp opinion leaders for criticizing Han.
After a few minor skirmishes, the war began properly with reports by Want Want Group newspapers and television stations.
On May 3, the China Times, one of the group’s newspapers, published a report attacking Gou’s pro-US and anti-China stance, calling him a “pan-blue version of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).”
The main purpose was to define his position on the political map, but as the report’s belligerent attitude intensified, it asked which of the two is a real patriot and flies the Republic of China’s (ROC) banner.
When Gou visited the White House last month, the report characterized him as pro-US and anti-Chinese, no different from Tsai Ing-wen.
This was of course unacceptable to Gou and the following day he fired back with a long post on Facebook. He stressed the advantage of being able to come and go at the White House, but the climax came in the second half, where he denounced “certain media” for attacking him on a daily basis and constantly trying to create a rift between Han and himself.
The media group is the biggest “fake Han fan,” completely unconcerned with the survival of the ROC and lacking any patriotism, Gou said.
The two sides are labeling each other as pro-Chinese, trading accusations of currying favor with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and selling out Taiwan.
Interestingly, the pan-blue camp always accuses the pan-green camp of making up “red labels,” calling them “vicious smears.”
Why are these two pan-blue heavyweights giving each other “red labels” as well? It is sufficient to prove that the tycoons know that there is no market for “peaceful unification” and “one country, two systems” in Taiwan, and that such lines are a political kiss of death.
Why are they still beating around the bush and swinging back and forth between democracy and authoritarianism? Are there big interests in the background that neither of them want exposed?
It is time to remind Taiwan of the problem it faces. Modern democracy is built on two hypotheses:
First, people will vote according to their interests and they will elect the candidate who caters to the “greatest common denominator.”
Second, politicians are authorized by a majority and will act rationally in the interests of that majority. Unfortunately, reality proves that this is not the case.
The war between Taiwan’s two richest people is officially on and it has triggered a battle between Internet supporters on both sides.
Perhaps it will give Taiwanese a chance to see clearly who it is that is currying favor with the CCP and selling out Taiwan.
Chen Chih-ko is a non-professional investor.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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