Han refuses bid due to primary structure

HIS RESPONSIBILITY?:Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu said that as mayor he has come to understand that for things in Kaohsiung to be good, things in Taiwan must be good

By Wang Jung-hsiang and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Wed, Apr 24, 2019 - Page 1

Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) yesterday said that he would be unable to participate in the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential primary as it is currently structured, but that he believes the nation’s development and defense is his responsibility.

Han, speaking to the media after a Kaohsiung City Government meeting in the morning, thanked his supporters “at home and abroad.”

“During my tenure as mayor, I have come to deeply understand that things can only be good in Kaohsiung if things in Taiwan are good,” he said. “At this time, I cannot join the primary under the existing system.”

Politics has long been influenced by “bigwigs” holding meetings in private, and has moved far away from the will of the general public, he said.

“Taiwan urgently needs a political revolution,” Han added.

He said he is not concerned about personal loss or gain, but only feels the need to take responsibility for the development and defense of Taiwan, which he deeply loves.

“I wish for the heavens to protect Taiwanese and protect the Republic of China,” he said.

Han had originally planned to announce his decision not to join the primary on Monday, but the announcement was rescheduled to Friday. Then, at 12:27am yesterday a message posted to Line by Kaohsiung Information Bureau Director-General Anne Wang (王淺秋) said that Han would make an announcement after the city government meeting.

Commentators have been saying that although Han previously said he would not run for president, he likely changed his mind after seeing his standing in public opinion polls.

About 10 supporters were present at Han’s announcement, with some of them saying they would abstain from voting if Han was not on the ballot.

Former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who has announced his intention to run in the KMT primary, said he understood Han’s grievances, and that elitism caused the KMT to lose the last presidential election.

Wang said that he hoped the party would not repeat past mistakes, but that it would choose the nominee most capable of helping the nation to survive and develop.

Former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) said that no one should “hurt one’s own people when reaching out, or make a commotion for others’ entertainment,” in response to Han’s announcement.

Chu said he has never spoken badly of fellow KMT candidates.

The party’s Central Committee would resolve the primary impasse with “the greatest sincerity,” Chu said, adding that party unity depends on it.

Hon Hai Group chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘), who on Wednesday last week announced that he would participate in the KMT primary, responded on Facebook to Han’s allegations of “bigwigs holding meetings in private,” saying that the situation was “unimaginable for a politically inexperienced person” like him.

Gou criticized the party’s inability to nail down the details of the primary.

Former Taipei County commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋), who has said he hoped to become the party’s nominee, urged the KMT Central Committee to hold a “fair and honest” public opinion poll before the end of the month, and to elect whoever fares best in the poll as the party’s presidential candidate.

“The public is watching us. We need to act soon. If we continue to delay [the primary], the public is going to loathe us,” he said, adding that he empathizes with KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who said he was struggling to maintain party unity and preserve the primary process.

KMT spokesman Ouyang Lung (歐陽龍) said that as Han just began his term as mayor, it would be difficult for him to tell the people of Kaohsiung if he decided to run for president.

Wu hoped to help Han by having him participate in the primary, he said, adding that he hoped Han would not misunderstand the situation, as it is normal for all qualified candidates to join the primary.

KMT Taoyuan chapter director Yang Min-sheng (楊敏盛) said that he did not advise Han to run for president.

Han should tell the KMT Central Committee not make him a candidate, because he has been in office such a short time, he said, adding that Han should complete his term as mayor to the best of his ability.

Meanwhile, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said he prefers to “focus on his daily work” rather than concerned himself with Han’s statements.

Citing the saying: “Peace reigns throughout the world, but only the ignorant bring trouble on themselves,” Ko said that only by thinking of the decision to run for president as annoying does it become a disturbing issue.

He would continue his routines and make the decision when the time is right, Ko said.

Additional reporting by Lee I-chia, Hsieh Wu-hsiung, Chen Yun, Chen Jou-jen, Lai Hsiao-tung and CNA