Taiwan presidential hopeful Terry Gou draws fire for 'harem' comment

Taiwan's wealthiest man Terry Gou announced last week that he plans to run for president after declaring the sea goddess Matsu urged him to do so. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's wealthiest man Terry Gou has sparked criticism after he was quoted dismissing his wife's opposition to his recently announced presidential bid by saying "the harem should not meddle in politics".

Mr Gou, the head of tech giant Foxconn, made a surprise announcement last week that he plans to run for president in next January's elections after declaring the sea goddess Matsu urged him to do so.

The plain-speaking 69-year-old tycoon is seeking the nomination of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) opposition party for the January polls.

But Mr Gou's wife Delia Tseng appears to be none too happy with his foray into politics.

In a series of TV interviews aired on Thursday (April 25), Mr Gou said Ms Tseng had left him after he made the announcement.

"My biggest challenge now is my wife who has already left home," he told local channel ECB.

When asked by reporters for his reaction to his wife's departure, Mr Gou was quoted by multiple local media outlets as saying "the harem should not meddle in politics".

Those comments sparked a backlash on social media.

"Who does chairman Gou think he is? If he wants to be an emperor he should go to China to replace Xi Jinping," prominent feminist campaigner Fan Yun wrote on her Facebook page.

"When you wanted to run, you said a woman (Matsu) asked you to, now you are telling women not to meddle in politics," she added, addressing Mr Gou.

Some netizens offended by the remarks urged Mr Gou to withdraw from the presidential race.

"How many women are in chairman Gou's harem? He wants to be an emperor in the Republic of China (Taiwan). He should withdraw," read one post.

Reporters asked Mr Gou to clarify his comments on Friday but he did not respond.

Also known by its official name Hon Hai Precision Industry, Foxconn assembles Apple and Huawei phones as well as parts and accessories for other major international brands.

Known for his aggressive dealmaking and often mercurial public appearances, Mr Gou has been snapping up investments from Japan to India in a bid to diversify from electronics assembly.

The bulk of Mr Gou's investments are in China, employing more than one million workers in the country where cheap labour helped fuel his company's meteoric rise.

Mr Gou was born in 1950 in Taipei to parents who had fled the communist victory in China's civil war. He studied shipping management in college while supporting himself with part-time jobs.

He started his business in 1974 making television parts with an investment of NT$100,000 (S$4,400) from his mother, and later began producing computer parts - eventually growing to become the world's biggest contract electronics maker.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.