A Taipei borough warden who claimed before the nine-in-one elections on Saturday last week that he would commit seppuku — ritual suicide by disembowelment — if Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文) lost, yesterday apologized for the dramatic vow and, on a netizen’s advice, sliced open the stomach of a fish instead of his own.
Lee Tai-hua (李台華), the warden of Ziqiang Borough (自強里) in Songshan District (松山), said before the election that if Lien failed to win he would commit seppuku. Lee also promised that the KMT candidate “would receive 5,000 votes from my borough,” vowing to “punish myself with a glass of liquor for every vote short of the promised 5,000.”
It was reported that after the election, Lee received anonymous telephone calls and messages asking him when he was going to hold up his end of the deal and commit harakiri. He responded on Sunday with an announcement that he would make good on his promise the day that Taipei mayor-elect Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) is inaugurated and invited the media to be his witness.
Photo: Tu Chu-min, Taipei Times
According to a statement Lee released yesterday, Lien and his wife, Patty Tsai (蔡依珊), visited Lee on Monday night, asking him to take care of himself and continue to serve his constituency.
The warden also said that Ko’s secretary had telephoned him to dissuade him from hurting himself.
“I bought a fish at the market this morning and cut its stomach open with a knife. This was my first time carrying out so-called ‘fish seppuku’ — I hope it is also the last,” Lee said in the statement.
The warden apologized for his “inappropriate remarks during the election,” saying they “had wasted social resources by catching people and the media’s attention.”
He said he would not respond to future questions about the stunt.
Lee burst into the spotlight after KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) boasted to media early last month that the 33 wardens in her Songshan constituency had told her that Lien would win and that they would commit seppuku if he lost.
Various Songshan wardens soon denied the proclamation and accused Lo of falsely representing them. Lee then said that it was he who had told Lo about the “pledge” at a campaign event.
The Central News Agency on Monday quoted Lo as telling netizens not to “bully” Lee, saying that reports of his threat were “sensationalized” from the start.
Meanwhile, Ko yesterday visited two borough wardens in Neihu (內湖) who were expelled from the KMT for inviting the mayor-elect to give a speech in May on life and death from his perspective as a surgeon. The pair were stripped of their memberships for “campaigning for an opponent” and ultimately failed to be re-elected, both losing to KMT candidates.
Ko hugged the wardens and told them not to be too disappointed, adding that he might need their experience in the city administration someday.
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