TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Foxconn founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) announced his departure from the Kuomintang (KMT) on Thursday (Sept. 12), further fueling speculation that he would soon announce his presidential bid.

The tech tycoon has decided to quit the KMT effective immediately, said Gou’s aide Tsai Chin-yu (蔡沁瑜) on Thursday morning. “The KMT puts party interests ahead of national interests, which goes completely against Mr. Gou’s original intention to return to the party,” Tsai quoted Gou as saying.

Gou’s announcement came after a front-page advertisement was released in newspapers on Thursday calling for collaboration between Gou and the KMT presidential nominee Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜). The advertisement, which was placed by the KMT, included 31 signatures of senior party members, including former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), former Vice Presidents Lien Chan (連戰) and Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), the party chairman.

The advertisement dispelled earlier rumors that the KMT leadership was considering replacing Han due to his shrinking popularity as indicated by recent polls. The statement urged both Han and Gou to ease the friction between them and reach a consensus through negotiations to ensure victories in the presidential and legislative elections next January.

▶︎ The KMT placed an advertisement in the newspaper front page on Sept. 12 (Source: CNa)

However, Gou had apparently not bought into the party’s plea. Acknowledging that he had read the statement, Gou criticized the party’s leaders as “conservative” and “corrupt,” claiming he would not feel a sense of nostalgia after leaving the party.

Gou’s harshly-worded statement is likely to further strain his relationship with Han and the KMT, but it also suggests that an alliance with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) may well be underway. Gou and Ko, who chairs the newly-formed Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), visited a temple together in Hsinchu on Wednesday (Sept. 11), and Gou also paid a visit to Ko’s parents on the same day, bringing them Moon Festival gifts.

After Gou was defeated by Han in the KMT’s primary in July, rumors spread that he would run for president independently. He has reportedly been in talks with Ko in recent weeks, and the mayor has expressed an interest in campaigning for him, according to Ko’s aide Tsai Pi-ju (蔡壁如).

Gou is likely to announce his presidential bid later this week, as the deadline for the registration of an independent or non-majority-party candidate is Sept. 17. For Gou to qualify as a candidate, he must launch a nominating petition and collect more than 280,000 valid signatures.