|Lai leaves Taiwan after being denied a cable TV license|
However, he has now decided to pull out of the island after selling all of his newspaper and magazine holdings in Taiwan for NT$17.6 billion (HK$4.64 billion) to a consortium led by entrepreneur Jeffrey Koo, who has teamed up with Formosa Plastics Group president Wang Wen-yuan and a Singapore private equity fund.
Koo is the eldest son of banking mogul and Chinatrust Financial Holding chairman Koo Len-song.
Lai told his staff yesterday, "I won't be back." He said Taiwan had democracy, and he did not believe it could not have a free press.
Nevertheless he was stymied from being unable to obtain government approval to operate a cable-television business in Taiwan.
"The Taiwan government won't let Jimmy Lai into cable," said his assistant Mark Simon. "Jimmy crossed every stream and climbed every mountain to get a license."
So what next for Lai?
There's speculation he is looking at opportunities in the United States and Europe.
Actually the US could be a good battle ground for him to go head-to-head with Chinese state media setting up shop there.
It would be interesting to see the different Chinese views of North America.
In the meantime can Taiwan Apple Daily, Taiwan Sharp Daily and Taiwan Next Media Bundle survive without Lai at the helm?
That will be the test of how free Taiwan's media really is.