Monday, January 23, 2012

When business and politics mix

l  Traditionally politics and business just don’t mix in Taiwan, at least not publicly. Primarily because of the island’s authoritarian past and the highly divided domestic politics since 2000, most business leaders have usually declined to comment publicly of a particular policy, political party or politician.

l  That trend seems to have been broken in Taiwan's 2012 presidential campaign following the show of support, though not necessarily behind a particular candidate, by some of Taiwan’s top corporate leaders.

l  Carefully packaged in such a way as not to be labeled in Taiwan’s divided domestic politics, business leaders like Formosa Plastics Group’s William Wang and Evergreen Group's Chang Rong-fa have publicly stated that the candidate's ability to generate “mutually-beneficial cross-Strait interactions,” based on the “1992 consensus,” will earn their support. Others like Hon Hai Precision's Terry Gou and Yue Loong Motor’s Ken Yen have also made public their explicit support of President Ma Ying-jeou and the "1992 consensus."

l  Many in the DPP have charged that these business leaders have come forward to express support for Ma because of: (1) pressure from Beijing, and (2) the need to protect their economic interests on the mainland. While the above factors may apply to some, it would be unfair to interpret their support for President Ma Ying-jeou solely on those grounds.

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