What To Expect If Taiwan’s iPhone Billionaire Wins The Presidential Election

20-Apr-2019 Intellasia | Forbes | 6:38 AM Print This Post

Billionaire Terry Gou, chair of the world’s largest contract assembler of consumer electronics, said Wednesday he wants to run for president of Taiwan next year. The Foxconn founder said wants the nomination of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) opposition party, which is eyeing one or two other candidates as well. A bid for the presidency for the 68-year-old chair would mark the first in Taiwan for a major business leader.

Taiwan’s current president Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016. She belongs to the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and during her term, Beijing has increasingly pursued hardline policies against the self-ruled island.

With a net worth currently estimated at $7.8 billion, Gou is Taiwan’s wealthiest person and his candidacy has already raised awareness of the upcoming polls and excited many voters, while also raising important questions, Taiwan’s political observers say. Without government experience, Gou would have to rely upon his decades of business acumen to rule the island of 23 million people and that may prove to be problematic, some predict. He will also have to face tough questions about his extensive investments in China, which has had uneasy relations with Taiwan for more than 70 years.

“According to his past habits, Gou’s behavior as president should be to emphasize greater efficiency,” says Liang Kuo-yuan, president of Polaris Research Institute think tank in Taipei. Adjusting to the role of running the government would take time, Liang says, since the work is complex and Guo has not performed a similar role in the past.

Gou hasn’t come out with an electoral platform yet, just a suggestion Wednesday that the Nationalists should work toward peace, stability, the economy and the future. He announced his intention to run at the party’s Taipei headquarters. “I am willing to participate in the primary election,” Gou said. “If I am not chosen, it means I didn’t work hard enough.”

Guo worked in plastics before going into consumer electronics and mobile phones. Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai, is best known globally for assembling iPhones and iPads.

Based on Foxconn’s performance, a Taiwanese company that posted 2018 revenues of $172 billion, Liang anticipates that Gou’s priorities would likely include controlling costs, putting a stop to any outdated practices and making sure things happen on time.

Gou also has a reputation for “strictness” toward Foxconn’s employees, according to Huang Kwei-bo, vice dean of the international affairs college at National Chengchi University in Taipei. His factory legacy may raise questions about whether Gou has special ties with Beijing, Huang says. “He’s got some problems he’s got to solve, especially his relations with China, both political and business,” he says.

Foxconn has 12 factories in nine Chinese cities that are expected to vex Gou during a presidential campaign and longer if he were elected. The relatively low costs of employing hundreds of thousands of people in China has contributed to Gou’s success, but working conditions at the assembly plants came under heavy scrutiny in 2010 after a series of worker suicides.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphjennings/2019/04/18/what-to-expect-if-the-iphone billionaire-wins-taiwans-presidential-election/#7154958555f3

 


Category: Taiwan

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