Apple Supplier Foxconn's Boss Wins Support

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on August 16, 2010

Terry Gou, the embattled boss of Apple’s outsourcing manufacturer Foxconn (part of Hon Hai Precision Industry) has an unlikely ally in media tycoon Jimmy Lai. Lai’s chairman of Next Media, best known in the West for its animated coverage of news events like Tiger Woods’s car crash and JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater’s emergency exit. The Hong Kong-listed company is also the publisher of Taiwan’s number one newspaper, Apple Daily, and a popular newsweekly, Next Magazine, both famous for their hard-hitting, often tabloidy coverage of the news. With Foxconn still struggling after a series of worker suicides called attention to the hours, pay and conditions at its Chinese factories, the company is taking hits. Last month a group of Taiwanese academics called Gou’s company “the shame of Taiwan.”

Lai doesn’t buy that. Such statements are “bulls—t,” says Lai, who stopped by the Bloomberg office in Hong Kong for an interview this morning. Gou’s critics, the media boss says, don’t give him enough credit. “The guy has built factories, and provided so many jobs to China. This is tragic, that some people jumped. But you can’t just say it’s the shame of Taiwan. The guy still has people lining up to join the company.” Lai says the suicides could have happened anywhere. “Imagine when people have to leave their hometown and live in a small dormitory where people have no relatives. This is a very difficult, very tough life,” he says. “It’s just the nature of the factory make up. You drag people away from their life, that makes life very difficult.”

Lai’s publications haven’t shied away from covering the company and its difficulties - and while Foxconn in the past has sued journalists who wrote critically of the company and its labor practices, Lai says doesn’t see Gou or Foxconn trying to intimidate the media now. “The guy knows he’s in deep s—t; when somebody’s in deep s—t, it’s difficult to intimidate anybody. For him to think he can intimidate the media, I don’t think he’s that stupid.”

Update: Here’s some more on how Foxconn is handling the fallout from the suicides. According to this report from Bloomberg News, a Chinese newspaper Secutimes.com reports Foxconn is testing would-be workers at a new plant in the central city of Zhengzhou on their ability to handle stress. An applicant has to take a test, my colleagues write, with 70 questions “including evaluations of the effects of sleep deprivation, depression and loneliness.”

Reader Comments

2Bob

August 16, 2010 2:29 AM

So Foxcoms answer to this is to test future employees ability to cope with the effects of sleep deprivation, depression and loneliness!

Well done Mr Gou. You are a true humanitarian. Enjoy your billions.

FedUP

August 16, 2010 12:53 PM

This Lai individual is an idiot. he is praising someone who has created slaves not workers. they are probably drinking buddies that is why he is standing up for him everyone can see Foxconn is the worst company to work for probably in the world.
Lai is using this as a publicity move nothing else.

John

August 16, 2010 1:23 PM

National Enquirer has a lot of readers too. So what? Jimmy Lai is sleazy, to say the least. Sensationalizing news like rapes and suicides to earn a buck. A totoally disgusting and unscrupulous businessman.

His opinions mean crap to me.

Bama O'Husin

August 16, 2010 8:13 PM

You can't just build gigantic factory to be manned by so-called "robotic workers" to meet the Customer demands and schedule without some robots calling it quit.

Bama O'Husin

August 17, 2010 9:04 AM

Lai thinks he is the God of trash journalism.

Jack

August 17, 2010 10:38 PM

Taiwanese also called Jimmy Lai's AppleDaily shameful. Too bad all the fines were peanuts compared to the profits he obtained selling pornographic or sleazy "news" to those tasteless folks.

cyndi

August 18, 2010 10:47 AM

more corporate sleaze with NO thought of people and their "lives".

Willten08

August 18, 2010 12:58 PM

How about laying some blame and responsibilities on American and Foreign Companies who use Foxconn and other contract manufacturers for high-tech, high-profit gadgets parts, but force the contractors to accept thin margins (Walmart, anyone?). Until there is adequate transparency on these contract terms, we can not totally blame just the Foxconns. On the otherhand, Mr. Gou should have the guts to get Apple to pay him more for the contracts, and not foist the inhuman conditions on his laborers in order to maintain his margins.

joeliu58

August 19, 2010 5:57 PM

It is all a balancing act between the capitalist and labor. If you paid the labors too much, company folds. Number one goal of a company is to make money and survey. By nature a leader makes the most since he works the hardest. You have only yourself to blame for being a labor. Ask yourself, why did you not study/work hard when you were a student. Why were you the fist to leave when the bell rings. PS:2Bob, All leaders work longer and harder than a common labor -- Foxconn workers included. A simple example: Look at US presidents, their hair all turn white after 2 years. [Young Bush may be an exception! Some become a leaders because of their parents.] Be a real American, work hard and don't be jealous of others' success!

trh

August 22, 2010 11:22 AM

the chinese are very pragmatic.no morals or ethics.the end justifies the means.the end is profits,more is always better.no morals .no ethics.and most of all no shame.

LC-E6 battery charger

September 5, 2010 11:49 PM

who has created disciplinarian not workers. they are apparently bubbler buddies that is why he is continuing up for him anybody can see Foxconn is the affliction aggregation to assignment for apparently in the world. www.uk-power-battery.co.uk

Post a comment

 

About

Bloomberg Businessweek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies.

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!