Koo Kwang-ming (Chinese: 辜寬敏; pinyin: Gū Kuānmǐn; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Ko͘ Khoan-bín; born on 15 October 1926) is a Taiwanese statesman, businessman and independence activist.

Koo Kwang-ming
辜寬敏
KM Koo.jpg
Born (1926-10-15) 15 October 1926 (age 93)
Rokkō Town, Shōka District, Taichu Prefecture, Japanese Taiwan (modern-day Lukang, Changhua County, Taiwan)
Alma materNational Taiwan University
Political partyDemocratic Progressive Party

Family backgroundEdit

Koo was born into a life of privilege. He was the eighth son of Koo Hsien-jung, a prominent Lukang businessman who had relocated to Taipei at the time of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, when Taiwan was ceded by the Qing Dynasty to the Empire of Japan.[1] He swiftly made common cause with the Japanese colonial authorities in Taiwan and grew extremely wealthy during the period of Japanese rule. The family proved adept at bending with the political winds, and Koo's older brother Koo Chen-fu became a confidant of Chiang Kai-shek. Koo Kwang-ming, however, went into exile in Japan after the 228 massacre, where he lived for decades as an advocate for Taiwanese independence. His son born in Kobe, Richard Koo, is a prominent economist in Japan.

Political careerEdit

Koo enrolled at what became National Taiwan University in 1941 to study political science. He became chair of the school's student association, and was actively opposed to the Kuomintang. He left Taiwan for Hong Kong soon after the 228 incident, and later settled in Japan.[2] In 1972, Koo traveled in secret from Japan via Thailand to Taiwan. He met Chiang Ching-kuo, son of ruler Chiang Kai-shek to argue for the lifting of martial law. As a consequence he was expelled from the Japanese chapter of WUFI. The younger Chiang invited Koo to end his exile to "share in the affairs of the country". Koo accepted, but on landing in Taiwan was upset to see his return described as "surrender" in an evening newspaper. He replied that he "had not returned to surrender, but to bring my influence to bear [on the situation]".[3] Influential independence activist Su Beng contradicted this assertion, accusing Koo of "surrendering to the Chiang government".[4] Koo joined the Democratic Progressive Party in 1996, when fellow independence activist Peng Ming-min received its presidential nomination.[2] Koo later served president Chen Shui-bian as an adviser, resigning his post and DPP membership in 2005.[5]

2008 DPP leadership bidEdit

After the DPP's comprehensive defeat in the 2008 presidential elections, a leadership election was held to find the new party chairperson. Koo, then 82 years old, stood as a candidate. The campaign was notable for controversial remarks made by Koo about the suitability of an unmarried woman to lead,[6] widely interpreted as an attack on the eventual winner, Tsai Ing-wen, who became the first elected female head of the party.

Candidate Total votes cast Percentage of vote References
Tsai Ing-wen 73,865 57.1% [7]
Koo Kwang-ming 48,882 37.8%
Chai Trong-rong 6,530 5.1%
Voter turnout 51.1%

Koo was appointed adviser to Tsa Ing-wen in November 2016, four months after she had taken office as President of the Republic of China.[8]

PhilanthropyEdit

In 2014 Koo announced that he would be giving away half of his fortune, NT$3 billion, through his New Taiwan Peace Foundation.[9] This included prizes such as an award for Taiwanese historical fiction.[10]

Political stancesEdit

After Panama ended bilateral relations with Taiwan in June 2017, Koo and Yu Shyi-kun announced that the Tsai Ing-wen administration should renounce the Republic of China and seek international recognition as Taiwan.[11][12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Yeh, Lindy (15 Apr 2002). "The Koo family: a century in Taiwan". Taipei Times. p. 3.
  2. ^ a b Yeh, Lindy (28 February 2005). "For Koo, the outsider's role is a natural one". Taipei Times. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  3. ^ 「我不是回來投降,我是回來發揮影響力的」
  4. ^ Su, p. 1113
  5. ^ Huang, Tai-lin (2 March 2005). "Advisers to Chen resign over accord". Taipei Times. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  6. ^ Ko Shu-ling (2008-05-08). "Koo apologizes for offensive remarks". Taipei Times.
  7. ^ "第12屆黨主席選舉投(開)票數統計表". Democratic Progressive Party. Archived from the original on June 28, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  8. ^ "Pro-independence figures top new list of presidential advisors". Formosa EnglishNews. November 15, 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  9. ^ Katherine Wei, Koo Kwang-ming to donate half of fortune to Taiwan, The China Post
  10. ^ Wang, Chris, Foundation unveils new historical fiction contest, The Taipei Times
  11. ^ Chen, Wei-han (15 June 2017). "Scrap ROC, seek global recognition for Taiwan: Koo". Taipei Times. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  12. ^ Chen, Wei-han; Chin, Jonathan (14 June 2017). "PANAMA SWITCHES SIDES: Taipei should forgo ROC framework: ex-premier". Taipei Times. Retrieved 15 June 2017.

BibliographyEdit

  • Su Beng (1980), 台灣人四百年史 (Taiwan's 400 Years of History) (in Chinese)