TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), although still unwilling to fully announce his candidacy for presidency on Monday (May 13) said that he would be willing to run for president if the Kuomintang (KMT) recruits him as their nominee.
However, Han’s tepid nod towards a presidential run this week comes with an unexpected caveat. Han declared that if he is elected president of Taiwan, he would remain in Kaohsiung and conduct executive administration from the southern Taiwan city.
Han’s comments represent the KMT politician’s attempts to placate the voters in Kaohsiung who brought him to office in last year’s November municipal election. According to reports, half of Kaohsiung voters, many who supported his mayor-ship, do not support Han's potential run for the presidency.
As Han tries to walk a tightrope between his responsibilities in Kaohsiung and pressure from the KMT to capitalize on his popularity nationwide, Han Kuo-yu remains a reluctant front-runner in the KMT primary race.
Han seems to believe that he will maintain his leadership role in Kaohsiung even if he is successfully elected president in January 2020. Han Kuo-yu was quoted by PTS on accusations that he would “abandon” the residents of Kaohsiung.
“The media informed me that Kaohsiung residents are very worried and would not accept their mayor running off. That is why I want to tell the media that this worry is unfounded. If I am elected president, I'll work from Kaohsiung. I won't leave Kaohsiung.”
The KMT, under the leadership of Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), has consistently indicated that it is willing to bend its own rules and alter the primary election process to accommodate Han, which may be driving resentment for Han and Wu in some corners of the party.
In early May, the KMT put out a notice that a registration fee and a letter of intent, to be submitted by May 15, would be required to participate in the primary process for any KMT hopeful.
However, the imposition of a deadline for declaring candidacy failed to galvanize Han into action. On May 9, the KMT decided to waive both requirements of a fee and a letter of intent, effectively catering to the whims of an indecisive Han Kuo-yu.
Han’s half-hearted admission of a “likely” presidential run and his statements that he would “work from Kaohsiung if elected” only raise more questions about his genuine commitment to a presidential campaign.