TAIPEI: Terry Gou, chairman of Apple supplier Foxconn, said on Wednesday (Apr 17) he will contest Taiwan's 2020 presidential election, shaking up the political landscape at a time of heightened tension between the self-ruled island and Beijing.
Gou, 69, said a goddess had "told me to step forward ... to help the people".
"The 2020 election is very important. Should I step forward or not?" Gou said during a visit to a temple of the sea goddess Matsu in New Taipei city.
"Matsu spoke to me in dreams a few days ago and today that ... (I) should look after people who are suffering, give young people hope and maintain cross-strait peace," Gou told reporters.
Gou, Taiwan's richest person with a net worth of US$7.6 billion according to Forbes, said he would join the already competitive race, and would take part in the opposition, China-friendly Kuomintang party's primaries.
His bid, which requires KMT approval, comes at a delicate time for cross-strait relations and delivers a blow to the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, which is struggling in opinion polls.
Incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen, 62, of the Beijing-sceptic Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has said she will seek re-election in the Jan 11 polls.
She faces a challenge from pro-independence former premier William Lai in the party's primaries, and the DPP is set to announce its presidential candidate later this month.
Also known by its official name Hon Hai Precision Industry, Foxconn assembles Apple iPhones as well as parts and accessories for other international brands.
Gou said on Monday he would soon step back from frontline operations while remaining at the helm of the firm.
Known for his aggressive dealmaking, Gou has been snapping up investments from Japan to India in a bid to diversify from electronics assembly.
Gou was born in 1950 in Taipei to Chinese 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 T$100,000 (US$3,250) from his mother, and later began producing computer parts - eventually growing to become the world's biggest contract electronics maker.