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Taiwan's hunky first son-in-law
Publication Date : 14-03-2013
Taiwan has a new heartthrob and he's not an actor
His father-in-law, Ma Ying-jeou, is the President with leading-man looks.
Now, in a twist right out of a dreamy Chiung Yao romance, Taiwan's First Family boasts a new member who has literally stepped off a fashion catwalk.
Allen Tsai Pei-jan, 33, a Harvard graduate, finance executive and former model, has been quickly dubbed by the media a gao fu shuai - a good catch who is tall, rich and handsome - after his marriage to Ma's daughter, Wei-chung, also 33, was confirmed on Tuesday.
(Strictly speaking, the label might be only two-thirds accurate, because the media are still not sure how much the Taiwanese- American and his family are actually worth. More on this later.)
Details of the couple's secret 10-year romance emerged yesterday, with Next Magazine reporting they had met while studying life sciences at Harvard University, where Ma himself was educated.
According to the weekly, the pair got serious long ago and Tsai visited Ms Ma's parents and grandmother in Taiwan before her father ran for office in 2008.
The young couple were hoping to get engaged then, but Ma asked them to put off their marriage plans as he did not wish to draw media attention to his future son-in-law in the run-up to the election, said the magazine.
The pair married in the United States last year - after Mr Ma, 62, won a second term - and they are now based in Hong Kong, where Tsai works in the asset management division of global financial firm JP Morgan, said Taiwan Apple Daily, quoting finance sources.
The company declined to confirm the report, saying it was a private matter. It added that it had two employees named Allen Tsai.
The daily said Tsai bought a three- bedroom apartment in a fairly upmarket area, the West Mid-levels, for HK$6.55 million in 2011. But it is not known if he lives there with his wife.
The report said he also had an investment company in Hong Kong and at one time, a rented home in the city's pricey Central district.
His former neighbours described Tsai, who speaks English and Mandarin, as a friendly fellow who would greet them first.
Born in Taiwan, he moved to the US with his family when he was a boy, said newspapers. Not much is known about his background, but his parents are reported to have returned to Taiwan. He is also said to have a younger sister.
He grew up in a modest two-storey, five-room house in San Diego and attended Poway High School, said ETTV. His aunt described him as "hardworking" and "a perfectionist", in a brief interview with the broadcaster.
Upon graduation in 2006, he went backpacking around Europe, where a friend in the fashion industry recommended him - with his striking Oriental face and sporty frame - for model castings, said Sing Tao Daily News.
But he joined a modelling agency in New York only two years later, after his first job with DeutscheBank in Hong Kong, said the report.
As a model, he appeared in advertisements for apparel brands such as Gap, Levi's and Esprit. He also took the catwalk at Milan Fashion Week, for designers Missoni and Armani.
According to Sing Tao, he and his wife are into art and fashion. Friends who were surprised by his stint in the limelight later realised he had taken up the gig just for a taste of the high-fashion life, said the daily.
Yesterday, photos of his modelling past - from wet-singlet shots to smouldering magazine spreads - were splashed across the newspapers and the Internet, sometimes with swoony headlines alluding to his pecs and abs.
Nownews website said he was the talk of town, and Taiwanese office ladies were surprised that Ms Ma, the low-key and highly educated First Daughter, had chosen not a scholarly type but a bona fide hunk as her husband.