Business tycoon Terry Gou drops out of presidential race (update)
Taipei, Nov. 24 (CNA) Business tycoon Terry Gou (郭台銘) announced his withdrawal from Taiwan's 2024 presidential election on Friday afternoon, hours before the deadline to formally register candidacies with the country's electoral authorities.
Gou, founder of manufacturing giant Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (Foxconn), said he was dropping out of the race in a statement posted on social media at around 2 p.m.
His running mate Tammy Lai (賴佩霞) confirmed the withdrawal by saying in a separate statement that the duo "will not appear on the ballot in 2024."
"It is a tough decision," said Lai, a veteran actress who only recently crossed over to politics, "But after thorough consideration, it is the best decision [we can make] at the moment."
Neither of them, however, provided a reason for their withdrawal, with Gou saying only it was "for the future of the Republic of China."
It now remains to be seen which opposition presidential ticket Gou will endorse.
In his statement, Gou did not disclose his preference, but instead expressed hope for a change in government after eight years of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rule.
Both the main opposition Kuomintang's (KMT) New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) and the smaller Taiwan People's Party (TPP) Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) registered on Friday to run for president after their televised joint press conference last night turned into a bitter showdown.
The press conference, moderated by Gou, was seen as the last attempt to bring Hou and Ko together to form a joint presidential ticket to give the opposition the best chance of defeating DPP front-runner Lai Ching-te (賴清德) and his running mate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴).
However, rather than working to forge an alliance, the two sides spent much of the time bickering.
Gou announced his bid to run independently for president in late August, months after failing to win the KMT's nomination for the second election cycle in a row.
In mid-November, he qualified to register for the presidential election slated for Jan. 13, 2024, following a successful petition campaign, despite accusations of signature buying and Beijing's tax probe into Hon Hai's operations in China.
Gou, who had said his presidential bid was meant to unite the opposition, never confirmed whether or not he would move ahead and formally register as a presidential candidate.
When the KMT and the TPP began negotiating over a joint presidential ticket in September, Gou found himself increasingly sidelined from the race, with polls showing his support dropping to single digits.
After the KMT/TPP agreement on forming a joint ticket collapsed last Saturday, Ko had repeatedly been seen by the media entering Gou's house, thus leading to media speculation that they could be hashing out a collaboration plan.
However, Ko declared that TPP Legislator Wu Hsin-ying (吳欣盈) -- the eldest daughter of former Hsin Kong Financial Holding Co. Chairman Eugene Wu (吳東進) -- would be his running mate on Friday morning.
Meanwhile, Hou chose to team up with political talk show host Jaw Shau-kong (趙少康), who also chairs the Taiwan-based Broadcasting Corporation of China (BCC).
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