Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) yesterday lodged a defamation lawsuit against Chinese-language Next Magazine following its report that for years he lived in a Taipei apartment worth NT$60 million (US$1.97 million at the current exchange rate) and drove a Jaguar.
The magazine yesterday reported that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate for a number of years lived in an apartment of more than 60 ping (198m2) in Daan District (大安) with his wife, Lee Chia-fen (李佳芬), and daughter.
Quoting residents in the building, the report said that Han is apparently not the “everyman” his campaign tries to portray him as, because he was living in one of Taipei’s best neighborhoods and was often seen driving an expensive Jaguar car.
Photo: Huang Chieh, Taipei Times
Government records show that the property was owned by a person surnamed Lee (李) from 1996 to 2009, but it is unclear if the person was Lee Chia-fen, the report said.
The apartment was not on the list of six properties owned by Han and Lee Chia-fen that his campaign office released last week.
The Daan apartment was owned by one of Han’s relatives, who is not a public figure, his campaign office spokeswoman Ho Ting-huan (何庭歡) told reporters outside the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, shortly before Han’s lawyer sued the magazine.
Han and his family decided to live in the apartment for family reasons, she said.
“The report could be misleading for the public and could affect the elections,” Ho added.
Certain media have used the property to suggest that Han was engaging in speculative real-estate investments and hiking up housing prices, she said.
“The campaign office cannot agree with the way the magazine is using the false report to manipulate elections,” she said, adding that the magazine would be sued for breaching provisions on defamation in the Criminal Code.
Han’s lawyer also sued Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City Councilor Ruan Jhao-syong (阮昭雄) for lodging a malicious accusation against Han.
Earlier yesterday, Ruan urged the Control Yuan to investigate whether Han had dodged taxes on the Daan apartment, even though the campaign office had explained that the property was not owned by the mayor, Ho said.
Ruan, by attempting to get Han punished for things he did not do, might have breached the Criminal Code, she said.
The campaign office released every piece of property that Han and his wife have owned, she said, adding that all of them were legal.
To avoid confusing the public, media outlets are urged to verify their reports before publishing them and avoid one-sided headlines, the campaign office said in a statement.
“If similar situations occur, the campaign office will immediately file lawsuits,” it said.
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