Why is Terry Gou really so opposed to the Anti-Infiltration Bill?

His criticisms of the political process don’t stand up to scrutiny

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(CNA photo)

KAOHSIUNG CITY (Taiwan News) — After his humiliating defeat in the KMT presidential primary elections, Terry Gou (郭台銘) appeared to slope out of Taiwan’s political sphere with his tail between his legs, returning to the business world, where his skills are more appreciated.

Now, however, he has exploded back into the public consciousness in the most ill-advised and controversial way possible.

Speaking on a political TV talk show this week, Gou announced he has another bone to pick with the DPP, and this time it is the party’s Anti-Infiltration Bill (反滲透法).

For those not familiar with this particular piece of legislation, the Anti-Infiltration Bill is an eminently sensible proposed law that is intended to stop malicious interference in Taiwan’s legitimate democratic process by foreign powers.

There is no doubt that this legislation is aimed squarely at Communist China, which is pretty open about its attempts to cajole Taiwan into voting for the pro-China KMT party by spreading fake news, influencing KMT-leaning media outlets, and even having direct links to some candidates.

Anti-infiltration laws of this kind aren’t anything new. Many democratic countries, including Australia and the U.S.A., are currently in the process of passing their own laws to counter Chinese interference.

If there is anything controversial about the bill, it is that is doesn’t go far enough in seeking to counter Communist China’s flagrant attempts to subvert Taiwanese democracy and that it hasn’t been passed nearly soon enough.

But that’s not what Terry Gou is protesting about. Quite the opposite.

He has announced that he will lead a “new Sunflower Movement” if the bill is passed by the legislature on the 31st of December. He further said that he would sleep outside the Legislative Yuan until the law was abolished.

If you think it sounds highly improbable that a billionaire businessman would rough it for weeks or months (or longer) then you’re not alone. Indeed, Gou has since reigned in his impassioned claims to simply organizing a protest in a subsequent Facebook post.

So, what is Gou’s beef with the Anti-Infiltration Bill?

Gou claims that his concerns are all about the process. He said on TV there had been a lack of communication with the public about the bill and argued that there should be more public hearings. He also claimed the DPP was “abusing its numerical superiority in the legislature to ram through the bill.”

For someone who until quite recently was a credible candidate for the biggest political job in the land, Gou displayed a staggering lack of understanding of how democracies work with that comment.

As the democratically elected government with the largest number of legislators, the DPP has a mandate to pass legislation. That is not an abuse of the legislature — it is precisely what it is for.

His argument about a lack of public consultation doesn’t really ring true either. The public has been aware of China’s interference in Taiwanese politics for years, especially the fake online news that comes out of the country, and it has been widely discussed in almost every corner of Taiwanese media.

This piece of technical legislation is much-needed and, in the eyes of many Taiwanese voters, long overdue. The case for more public consultation simply doesn’t compute.

So, why else might Terry Gou be opposed to anti-infiltration legislation? After all, it is primarily aimed at tackling online fake news.

It couldn’t possibly be because his business, Foxconn, has sunk its roots so deeply into China that some would say it is a Taiwanese company in name only these days?

It surely couldn’t be that he is still simmering with resentment at his humiliation at the hands of Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) and still harbors his own political ambitions?

It could never be that his own personal fortune is so intertwined with China's Communist regime that he actually poses a much bigger threat to Taiwan’s long-term future than Han or any of the current KMT political contingent?

That’s not for us to say, of course. Perhaps it is Gou himself who needs to spend a little more time understanding the effect that this bill will really have before he is so vocal with his criticism.

But the fact remains that Terry Gou’s links to both the KMT and Communist China are there for all to see, and his critique of the political process behind the Anti-Infiltration Bill simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

The Taiwanese voters will make of that what they will.