Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), still smarting from his Jan. 11 presidential election pummeling, is careening toward another test: his possible recall.
The residents of Kaohsiung have previously impressed the rest of the nation — for example, they completely transformed the Love River (愛河) from a pitch-black, fetid stench of a waterway to a beautiful, romantic attraction.
Han’s fortunes have changed, from his shock victory in the Nov. 24, 2018, mayoral election — where he defeated his opponent, Democratic Progressive Party candidate Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), by 150,000 votes — to the presidential election, in which President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) defeated him by 480,000 votes.
It has been quite a ride. Now, people are waiting with bated breath as the residents of Kaohsiung prepare for a potential recall of their mayor: Will they write a new chapter in Taiwan’s history with the first successful recall of a city mayor?
Reach for the popcorn.
Han’s political career of late has resembled an amusement park freefall ride, where you plummet from a precipitous height before you even have time to catch your breath.
His career has perhaps been more like a rollercoaster, hurtling along contorted tracks — one minute accelerating and another deaccelerating, as the car bucks and undulates in time with his political successes and catastrophes.
Nevertheless, it is precisely this type of fickle, disingenuous political hack that people need to resist and weed from Taiwanese politics.
With that in mind, here are five questions to put to the mayor:
First, why has Han stopped his incessant jabbering to journalists, after he wallowed in a media circus during his presidential campaign? When he first took office, he would spout his addled nonsense to a media waiting for the moment he might actually say something of substance.
Second, why has Han ceased his habit of traveling across the nation every other day to attend to business elsewhere, instead of staying in Kaohsiung and getting on with the business of governing?
Third, does Han consider question-and-answer sessions with city councilors to be a right, a duty, or both?
On April 20 and 21, the mayor is to deliver a report to the Kaohsiung City Council and answer their questions. Will councilors wishing to ask him questions be required to draw lots, as they had to in September last year?
Will councilors who have not been chosen be left to sit in silence and watch the proceedings?
The fourth question also concerns next month’s question-and-answer session. Will the mayor, as he did in September last year, turn off his microphone at 6pm on the dot, refuse to take any more questions, declare the proceedings a wrap and promptly leave?
Finally, does Han plan to meet the directors of the Chinese liaison offices in Hong Kong and Macau as he did before?
Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic, he could hardly travel and meet them in person, but connecting through social media or videoconferencing is a possibility.
He and his laison-office band could discuss the implementation of his “people will flood in, goods will flow out, Kaohsiung will reap the benefits” policy — so long as it is not “confirmed COVID-19 cases flood in, masks flow out, virus outbreaks will cost lots of money.”
Chang Kuo-tsai retired as an associate professor at National Hsinchu University of Education.
Translated by Paul Cooper
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