Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) yesterday accused the media of invading his privacy, amid reports that he had purchased a luxury apartment in Taipei in 2011 and questions about how he financed the purchase.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate purchased a 90 ping (298m2) apartment in Nangang District (南港) for more than NT$70 million (US$2.3 million at the current exchange rate) and sold it in 2015 at a loss of about 3.5 percent, the Chinese-language Next Magazine reported on Wednesday.
Han yesterday fired back on Facebook.
“A simple and legal sale has been publicized during this period leading up to the elections at the expense of an individual’s privacy,” he wrote. “I strongly question the motivations of the people who leaked the information.”
He condemned the media interest in a 2011 purchase, saying that he and his wife, Lee Chia-fen (李佳芬), had not been obliged to reveal details of their assets at the time, as neither held public office.
Only Taiwan Fertilizer Co’s (台肥) construction arm and the National Taxation Bureau would have information about the transaction, which raised questions about where the magazine got its information, he said.
Government agencies should investigate any improper leaks of personal information, he told reporters in Hsinchu.
“This is not about me, but about the rights of nation’s 23 million citizens,” Han said.
Han campaign office spokesman Ye Yuan-zhi (葉元之) echoed that concern.
“It is very frightening that such private information from years ago could be obtained by others after Han announced his presidential bid,” Ye said.
Han sold the apartment in 2016 before applying for a mortgage, because he realized that his family could not afford it, and he lost more than NT$2 million in the sale, Ye said.
Responding to Democratic Progressive Party (DDP) Legislator Lin Chun-hsien’s (林俊憲) allegation that Han had used his political connections to demand a 20-year loan of more than NT$14 million from Taiwan Fertilizer to make the 2011 purchase, Ye said the company offered loans to all buyers of its units.
The DPP is apparently attempting to defame Han with rumors, Ye said.
Taiwan Fertilizer yesterday said that had offered a loan to Han and “every buyer who needed it.”
Next Magazine yesterday issued a statement saying that it had obtained information about Han’s Nangang purchase from a combination of sources, including court records, residents in the apartment complex, real-estate agents and people close to the Han family.
It also verified the information with Han’s campaign office spokeswoman Ho Ting-huan (何庭歡) before publishing the story, it said.
“Mayor Han tried to dismiss the media’s responsibility to keep the government in check by labeling the story as an invasion of privacy. That is not the right attitude for any politician who might shoulder the responsibility of running the nation in the future,” the magazine said.
Asked about Han’s Facebook post, Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) said that Han is welcome to provide evidence that the government leaked his personal information.
“We would support the police and prosecutors handling such a case according to strict standards,” she said.
Asked by reporters about Han’s claims, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that claims about the government abusing its power should be supported with evidence.
“A while ago, there was a [purported] tracking device, and we still do not know what happened with that one,” Tsai said, referring to Han’s claim in August that “the state apparatus” might have installed a tracking device on his vehicle.
Additional reporting by Chang Huei-wen
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