Han Kuo-yu calls for boycott of opinion polls ahead of election

11/29/2019 05:02 PM
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KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (center)
KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (center)

Taipei, Nov. 29 (CNA) The presidential candidate of Taiwan's main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) has urged his supporters to boycott any opinion polls on January's presidential election, arguing that the polls do not genuinely reflect public opinion.

Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), who has fallen farther behind President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in recent polls on the 2020 presidential race, asked his supporters Friday to "confuse" the pollsters with one answer when interviewed by telephone: "supporting no one but Tsai Ing-wen."

"From now on we all let the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) feel happy until Jan. 10, 2020," wrote Han sarcastically in his latest post on Facebook on Friday morning.

Just a day earlier, Han urged supporters on Facebook to decline to answer questions in any poll on the presidential race to stem what he called "fake opinion polls."

The Jan. 11 presidential election will see a three-party competition, with Tsai, Han and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) running for the top prize.

In two recent polls, Han trailed Tsai by more than 20 percentage points, prompting his calls to confuse polling organizations.

In a Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation poll released on Nov. 25, Tsai had 55.2 percent support, compared with 26.3 percent for Han and 7.6 percent for Soong.

A poll released by news channel ETtoday the same day gave Han 23.6 percent support, compared with 44.4 percent for Tsai and 9.5 percent for Soong.

These polls appeared a week after an Apple Daily had Tsai leading Han 42.3 percent to 24.0 percent and TVBS poll had Tsai leading 45 percent to 37 percent.

Han's support has suffered from bad press, including over previous purchases of expensive properties that undercut his image as an "average Joe," and verbal gaffes, as well as China's growing belligerence over Hong Kong, which has helped Tsai and her Taiwan independence-leaning DPP.

Han claimed, however, that some people were using fake public opinion polls to confuse voters and hurt his supporters' faith in him.

"No surveys for the presidential election of the Republic of China can obtain true opinions now," he said.

In a joint media interview, Han argued that fake public opinion polls dominated the landscape today, citing his victory in the mayoral election in Kaohsiung last year by about 9 percentage points, or 150,000 votes, even though several polls had him losing.

In fact, Apple Daily had him winning narrowly in Kaohsiung by a 35.4 percent to 32.6 percent margin on Nov. 11 while the DPP-leaning Set TV had Han losing by a 43.6 percent to 40.5 percent margin at the same time.

Han contended that people are afraid of offering their true opinions because of fear of possible "political retaliation," without elaborating further.

In response, the DPP's Tsai said Friday that public opinion and public opinion polls both reflect people's free will.

"When the polling results are good, we shall sprint with all strength, reinforcing the government's practices; when the results are bad, we shall reflect on ourselves deeply," Tsai said, something she did not heed in 2018.

Dogged by increasingly poor poll numbers from independent polling organizations such as the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation during the year, Tsai did little to reset her governance, and her party suffered a big defeat in the 2018 elections.

Her party finished in control of only six of Taiwan's 22 cities and counties after holding 13 previously.

(By Yu Hsiang, Pan Tzu-yu and Elizabeth Hsu)


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