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Kaohsiung mayor says he will run in presidential race if called on

2019/05/13 23:01:43

CNA file photo

Kaohsiung, May 13 (CNA) Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) said Monday that he will only jump into the presidential race if recruited by the Kuomintang (KMT) and would set up an office to work in Kaohsiung should he eventually be elected as the country's president.

Speaking in an interview with CommonWealth Magazine, Han said he will only run if the party "recruits" or "drafts" him to take part in the party's primary for the 2020 presidential election.

The KMT has already said it will include Han's name in its primary even though the Kaohsiung mayor never registered for the race or explicitly said he wanted to run.

Han currently has the best polling numbers of any potential KMT candidate for the January 2020 presidential election, which is why the party has done everything it can to include him in the primary process, with the winner to be determined by opinion polls and possibly a vote within the party.

The Kaohsiung mayor's reluctance to openly pursue the presidency may be because he was only voted in as Kaohsiung mayor in November 2018 and does not want to be seen as vying for another post so soon after becoming the head of the southern city.

Han also said in the interview that should he be called on by the KMT and eventually win the presidency, he will not leave Kaohsiung but rather continue to live and work there, even though the Presidential Office is in Taipei.

"There is already a southern branch of the Presidential Office here. Why not just work from here?" he said.

Earlier in the day, the mayor hinted in remarks in a television talk show with local Chinese-language EBC News that the country's next president should not rule out living and working in Kaohsiung, regardless of who wins the 2020 election.

Han suggested the idea, he said, to bring balance to the economic, cultural and political development between northern and southern Taiwan.

Asked by the show's host his views of Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and his possible run for the presidency as an independent, Han bet that Ko will throw his hat in the ring.

If the current situation continues, "he has the best shot [at winning]," Han said, explaining that as long as the KMT and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) camps remain divided internally and their primary candidates hurt each other, the Taipei mayor will have the edge.

At the end of the day, due to the weakened strength of the two major parties, Ko could stand out as the most likely winner, Han said.

About half a dozen candidates are vying for the KMT's presidential nomination while President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the DPP is engaged in a tough primary battle against former Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德), raising concerns of a lack of unity in both parties even after the primaries are completed.

(By Wang Shwu-fen and Ko Lin)
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