As the battle over recalling Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) intensifies ahead of the June 6 vote, supporters and opponents have been doing what they can to get their way.
One main point of contention is classrooms.
The pro-recall camp has criticized the Kaohsiung City Government for advising schools to only allocate two classrooms each for voting stations, saying that it is attempting to interfere with the democratic process in the name of disease prevention.
The Central Election Commission and city representatives met on Saturday and asked that the number and locations of voting stations be the same as during the 2018 Kaohsiung mayoral elections.
Agree with it or not, the recall process has been conducted legally and is an example of the nation’s democratic system.
Such a process will always be highly politicized, and while Han’s supporters, including his administration and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), need to support him, the focus should be on his performance as mayor, not on finding excuses to hamper the recall process.
After several borough wardens have said that schools should remain “pure” and not be used as polling stations for the recall vote, Kaohsiung Education Bureau head Wu Jung-feng (吳榕峰) on Saturday said that residents should “prioritize children’s interests” over politics.
This is a non sequitur, because the dispute was about using classrooms as polling stations on a Saturday, when there are no classes.
By bringing children’s interests into what should be a purely political conversation, the pro-Han camp is using them to sway emotions regarding the process — how is that “pure”?
It only serves to make his supporters look desperate.
Wu also said that “schools are established for children” and that they should not be used for anything other than education.
This has never been true. There has been no problem with schools being used for voting stations until now, and outside groups can use school grounds for their activities.
Using schools as polling stations provides youngsters with educational opportunities, exposing them to the mechanics of the nation’s democratic system, which is something all Taiwanese should be proud of.
Instead of being shielded from reality, polling stations provide them with a chance to learn about democracy amid all the propaganda and ugliness propagated through the Internet and other channels.
There is nothing wrong with letting them know that if the majority of an electorate believes that an elected official is not performing, the official can be held accountable.
Plenty of people are sure to vote against recalling Han, which is the whole point of democracy.
By calling it a witch hunt, what kind of example are Han’s supporters setting?
Wu also cited disease prevention goals as a reason to limit the number of polling stations. How does that make sense?
Concentrating voters into two classrooms per school is sure to create bigger crowds and longer lines.
If Kaohsiung authorities were really concerned about disease prevention, they could select several classrooms in each school that are far from one another and limit the number of people allowed in at a time.
Kaohsiung’s schools have the right to decide how to proceed and Wu has the right to voice his opinion, but bringing disease prevention and children into the debate only makes Han look worse.
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