Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) yesterday announced that he is taking a leave of absence, starting today and lasting until the Jan. 11 elections, to focus on his presidential campaign.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate made the announcement outside of the Kaohsiung City Government in front of hundreds of cheering supporters, where he gave a short speech and sang a song, but did not take questions from reporters.
The city government said Han had applied for 21 days of paid leave and 56 days of unpaid leave.
Photo: Wang Jung-hsiang, Taipei Times
Han told his supporters that over the past several months he has seen a newfound sense of warmth, courage and hope in Kaohsiung.
“Many friends encouraged me to run for president, not because they want me to give up Kaohsiung, but because they want to spread the warmth and hope to all parts of Taiwan,” he said.
To do so, he would set off from the south, he said, adding that he aims to “rebuild Taiwan’s glory.”
He then sang a military song called I Am Going to War Now (我現在要出征), joined by his supporters.
Following the announcement, Han visited KMT councilors at their caucus office at the Kaohsiung City Council.
However, he did not visit the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) councilors’ caucus office, which is decorated with placards criticizing him.
Asked why he did not meet with DPP councilors, Han said he had not been invited.
“I sincerely ask the residents of Kaohsiung to understand and support [my decision]. After all, Kaohsiung cannot become better unless Taiwan is better,” Han later wrote on Facebook.
He is embarking on a nationwide journey to consult members of the public on policymaking, he said.
According to the schedule released by Han’s campaign office, his first stop will be at 10am today at Cape Eluanbi in Pingtung County, the southernmost point on the island.
While on leave, Han will not receive his monthly mayoral allowance of NT$144,000 and is to donate NT$197,378 from his NT$196,320 monthly salary to the Kaohsiung Social Affairs Bureau for charity uses, the city government said.
If a mayor takes off for more than one month, the monthly mayoral allowance goes to the acting mayor, it said.
Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said he would serve as acting mayor during Han’s leave and attend interpellations and budget meetings at the city council.
He and the other two deputy mayors would run the city according to Han’s vision, Yeh said.
Han has instructed city officials to work hard over the next three months, Yeh added.
DPP spokeswoman Lee Ming-li (李明俐) said Han is apparently uninterested in running Kaohsiung, joining the presidential race just months after taking office and repeatedly arriving late at events.
“Han should resign instead of taking time off,” she said.
Asked by reporters for a comment, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said Han cannot even fulfill his promises to Kaohsiung residents, yet he is going to travel around the nation trumpeting that he can “save Taiwan.”
“Are you [the public] going to fall for that again?” Su said.
Additional reporting by Yang Chun-huei, Sean Lin and CNA
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