Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) yesterday apologized to former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) after Ma’s office complained about the way he was forced to stop speaking during the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate’s rally in New Taipei City’s Xingfu Shueiyang Park (幸福水漾公園) on Sunday.
Ma’s introductory remarks were cut short by organizers after supporters grew impatient for Han, who was spotted wading through the crowd in the middle of Ma’s speech, an hour after he was scheduled to appear on stage.
Campaign office deputy chief executive Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) abruptly curtailed Ma’s speech by announcing it was time for the former president to get some rest backstage, as exit music was played, even though Ma said: “I have not finished yet.”
The way the event organizers ended Ma’s speech earlier than planned was “very regrettable,” Ma’s office said yesterday morning.
There was a “tiny problem” with the way his campaign office had scheduled guest speakers, Han told reporters in Kaohsiung yesterday afternoon.
“The schedule was too tight,” he said, adding that the rally had a lot of speakers because it was the first held by his campaign office.
He telephoned Ma yesterday morning to apologize that he had to wait for an hour to make his speech, Han said.
“I also waited outside for an hour. I left for the stage as soon as I was informed that it was time,” he told reporters.
Han’s campaign office also issued an apology for the “slight delay” in scheduling, which it said was caused by the large number of KMT officials attending the event.
“Due to the delay, Mayor Han waited outside the venue. He was not late for the event,” it said.
Han had not planned to make a dramatic entry through the crowd during Ma’s speech, but the large crowd at the rally had prevented any vehicles from entering the area near the stage, so Han had to walk to the backstage area, it said.
The office was grateful to everyone who attended, it added.
Ma’s office confirmed that Han had apologized to Ma in a telephone call, and that while he had been surprised at the way things unfolded, “he did not mind.”
Han’s aides should be more cautious to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings, it quoted Ma as saying.
In other developments, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said that the city had asked Han’s campaign office to repair damage caused to the park during the rally.
An inspection of the park yesterday morning showed damaged grass and a significant amount of garbage.
“If the grounds cannot be repaired, we will handle the situation according to regulations,” Hou said. “We will be strict [with punishments].”
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) yesterday wrote on Facebook that “it was pretty impressive that Han managed to get on so many people’s nerves in just one rally.”
By forcing Ma off stage, doing a sloppy cover of a song by Taiwanese rock band EggPlantEgg and damaging the park’s grass, Han had infuriated “better-educated KMT supporters, music fans and New Taipei City residents,” Lin said.
Additional reporting by Hsieh Chun-lin
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