More than 10,000 people yesterday flocked to Kaohsiung’s Pier-2 Art Center to show their support for defeated Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Kaohsiung mayoral candidate Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), whose popularity appears on the rise after his loss in the Nov. 24 mayoral race.
Chen’s office said that the original idea for the event, which Chen proposed in one of his recent online conversations with netizens, was simply to get together with his supporters and treat them to a cup of coffee, to cheer them up after seeing him lose to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Kaohsiung mayor-elect Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜).
Han is the first KMT member to win a Kaohsiung mayoral race since 1998, ending two decades of DPP governance in a traditional pan-green camp stronghold. He is to take office on Dec. 25.
Chen originally feared that only a handful of people would sign up for the event, but it attracted 9,967 registrations, his office said, adding that the eventual turnout was more than 10,000.
Some people started lining up from noon to be the first to receive coffee. Due to the large number of people who arrived afterward, Chen’s staff had to divide the line into four so as not to inconvenience other visitors to the center.
The event lasted from 2:30pm to 5pm at the center’s No. 10 warehouse and featured instrumental and vocal performances, including two by Chen, who sang Faye Wong’s (王菲) Red Bean (紅豆) and Take On Me by Norwegian band A-ha.
“During the campaign, I traveled across Kaohsiung, visiting fishing villages in remote areas and Aboriginal communities up in the mountains to ‘breath the same air’ as the city’s residents,” Chen said in a brief speech.
Kaohsiung is the place he is willing to risk his life to protect, Chen added, urging his supporters to “fall in love” with the city and embrace Han’s supporters.
“We should be humbler in the face of democracy and more tolerant in the face of elections,” he said.
Asked about his next move, Chen, who resigned as a legislator early last month to focus on his campaign, said that he entered politics to achieve justice and equality in society, and he intends to use the support he has gathered to help more people.
“So where is my next stop? My next stop will be in people’s hearts,” Chen said, denying speculation that he plans to run for the post of DPP chairperson left vacant after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) stepped down on election night as it became apparent that the party had suffered huge losses in the elections.
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