Kaohsiung mayor absent from TV briefing ahead of recall vote

05/30/2020 03:11 PM
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Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (second left) visits a local farm Saturday morning.
Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (second left) visits a local farm Saturday morning.

Taipei, May 30 (CNA) Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) on Saturday chose not to show up for a televised briefing ahead of a June 6 vote to recall him, and instead spent his time visiting vegetable farms devastated by recent torrential rains.

"I am going to continue inspecting (agricultural losses)," Han of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) said during a visit to a farm in Kaohsiung's Ziguan District Saturday morning, when asked by reporters why he chose not to participate in the TV briefing.

The briefing was held at 9 a.m. by the Kaohsiung City Election Commission and broadcast live on local TV and the commission's YouTube channel.

The commission is required under law to hold a recall briefing via public television for the lead petitioner of the recall and person being recalled, so that they can make statements in person, unless the parties involved agree not to hold such a briefing.

Han's team has indicated weeks earlier that the mayor will not take part in the briefing.

During Saturday's briefing, Chen Kuan-jung (陳冠榮), the lead petitioner of the recall, said Han should have attended the briefing to explain to voters why he should not be recalled and that his absence merely proves his "anti-democratic" way of approaching things.

He said Han has failed to deliver on his campaign promise of helping Kaohsiung people "get rich," boosting jobs so that young people can return to Kaohsiung to work, or even resolving flooding problems in the city.

Chen urged voters to participate in the recall vote on June 6 to remove Han from office.

Chen Kuan-jung (left), the lead petitioner of the recall.
Chen Kuan-jung (left), the lead petitioner of the recall.

The Kaohsiung City Information Bureau said Saturday that the local government would rather do practical things to help its citizens, like tackling flooding issues, than engage in a war of words with Han's opponents.

Civil groups that have strong backing from pro-Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians initiated the recall petition in June 2019, after Han announced his presidential bid less than six months into his mayoral term.

Han had initially refused calls within his party for him to run in the presidential race, but support for his candidacy gained momentum because of his overwhelming victory in the mayoral race, in which he won 53.8 percent of the votes in a city long considered a DPP stronghold.

He eventually declared he would run for president, but jumping into the race so soon after being voted mayor angered many Kaohsiung residents who thought he was not giving priority to running the city.

The KMT has defended Han's governance in Kaohsiung, citing figures showing the number of tourists staying in the city's hotels has seen an annual increase of 17 percent last year, and the number of days with satisfactory air quality in the city in the first three months of 2020 rose to 77.8 percent, from 56.7 percent in 2019.

In a written defense sent to the Central Election Commission (CEC) in early May, Han said he has tried hard to invite potential business partners to invest in Kaohsiung, and mentioned a project to build a science park in the city's Ciaotou district, which he said is expected to create about 11,000 new jobs and generate as much as NT$180 billion (US$6.04 billion) in production value per year.

For the recall motion to pass, at least 25 percent of Kaohsiung's eligible voters -- roughly 571,000 -- must vote in favor of the recall measure, and the number of people voting for the measure must exceed the number voting against it, by a simple majority.

(By Chen Chao-fu and Christie Chen)

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