Taiwan president shoots down Terry Gou in war of words

The Foxconn tycoon had criticized Tsai Ing-wen for not understanding the struggles of young people, but she responded by pointing to his record as a bad employer

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President Tsai Ing-wen (Source: CNA/ File photo)

President Tsai Ing-wen (Source: CNA/ File photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) rebutted criticism of Foxconn President Terry Gou (郭台銘) on Sunday (May 19) by referring to the alleged suicide cases at the tycoon’s factories in China.

The billionaire and Kuomintang (KMT) presidential primary contender said Friday that Tsai, who is seeking re-election, cannot understand the everyday challenges and struggles of young people in Taiwan. He said Tsai had her own car when she studied at National Taiwan University, while he delivered parcels on a scooter when he was young.

Tsai responded to Gou’s comments during her visit to the south of Taiwan by saying that it is “not convincing” for the richest man in Taiwan to make such a claim. “President Gou should think about why so many young people in his company chose to end their lives at his factory,” Tsai said.

Tsai added the government has raised the minimum wage three times since she took office in 2016. She also said income tax cuts were introduced this year to benefit young people.

Policies dedicated to elderly care, childcare, and social housing have been implemented over the past three years, Tsai added. “President Gou may be good at running a company, but I am better at taking care of young people,” she concluded.

As the standoff between Tsai and former Premier William Lai (賴清德) continues for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential nomination, the president has made a series of visits over the past week to temples across the island nation to gather support.

Apprised by the media of Tsai’s response targeting Foxconn and its labor practices that have allegedly made workers suicidal, Gou at first declined to answer. He was in Yunlin Country of western Taiwan on Sunday afternoon.

Later, however, Gou fought back and said Tsai should not have picked on this issue, as it was his “deepest sorrow” in 45 years of doing business. He added that he now “better understands the expectations of young people toward the future” because of these incidents.

Over the past decade many Foxconn workers in China have committed suicide by jumping off buildings. In 2010, 14 suicide cases were reported in six months.

Reports suggested that poor working conditions, such as low wages, long working hours, and cramped living conditions in the dormitories provided by Foxconn, may have contributed to the situation.