Sat, Feb 15, 2020 - Page 3 News List

Han recall petition drive nears own signature goal

By Huang Chia-lin and Dennis Xie  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

Wecare Kaohsiung members hold signs in the city yesterday.

Photo: Wang Jung-hsiang, Taipei Times

A petition to recall Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) has garnered 270,639 signatures since it began on Jan. 29, bolstering confidence that a goal of 300,000 would be met this weekend before the documents are submitted to the Kaohsiung Election Commission, petition organizers said yesterday.

The New Power Party alone submitted more than 10,000 signatures on Thursday, said petition organizing group WeCare Kaohsiung, which, along with the Taiwan Statebuilding Party, this week continued the signature drive at major intersections in the city.

The groups aim to initiate a recall election at the end of June to have Han of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) step down as mayor in early July.

“Kaohsiung citizens are like Scorpios, who draw a clear line between affection and disaffection,” petition organizer Chen Kuan-jung (陳冠榮) said on Tuesday, adding that people with that zodiac sign never forget a person’s misbehavior.

Although the threshold is about 225,000 signatures, the campaign said it hopes to collect 300,000 to offset invalid forms.

Polls have shown that more than 53 percent of Kaohsiung residents agree that Han should be recalled, which is unchanged from last month, meaning that public opinion still does not favor Han, although “he has been pretending to be nice,” WeCare Kaohsiung founder Aaron Yin (尹立) said.

The Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) stipulates that a recall election requires petition signatures from at least 10 percent of the electorate during the second-stage petition, and the recall would be valid if yes votes in a recall election gain a majority, with at least 25 percent participating (about 580,000).

In related developments, more than 10 chain retail stores of a battery brand have put up banners opposing the recall campaign.

The banners, which say: “Recalling Han is nothing but a political struggle,” criticize Yin, who was head of the Kaohsiung Bureau of Cultural Affairs during then-Kaohsiung mayor Chen Chu’s (陳菊) administration.

Yin “had a 100 percent success rate for the 19 procurement tenders” he submitted to the city government, the banners say, an apparent reference to alleged corruption.

Yin said that he would sue the business and consulted his lawyers over whether the remarks contravene the act.

The battery brand has put up similar banners previously, voicing opposition to corruption in one case and criticizing President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during her re-election campaign.

Han engaged with the grassroots prior to his hard-earned position as mayor, winning more than 890,000 votes in 2018, and his experience and character are “well-tested” with “no flaws,” despite his defeat in last month’s presidential election due to “unknown reasons,” one store owner said on condition of anonymity.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wants Han recalled over his absence while he campaigned for the presidential election, the owner said.

However, Han stepping down would benefit the DPP in three ways: It would get away with corruption; it would rid itself of a competitor in 2024; and it would deter the opposition KMT and foreign political allies from “making reckless moves” and help it keep some of its own DPP members in line, the owner said.

Additional reporting by Ko Yu-hao, Huang Chia-lin and Hsu Li-chuan

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