Kaohsiung city councilor 'benches' Mayor Han for 50 minutes

NPP Kaohsiung city councilor bypasses Mayor Han during 50-minute Q&A session

Screenshot of video from city council meeting showing Huang roll her eyes at Han.

Screenshot of video from city council meeting showing Huang roll her eyes at Han.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- New Power Party Kaohsiung City Councilor Huang Jie (黃捷) on Wednesday (May 15) chose to bypass Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) during a question and answer session at the city council because talking to the "switchboard operator" was a waste of time.

When Huang famously asked Han about his proposed free economic zone in Kaohsiung on May 3, Han dodged the inquiry by simply repeating his slogan, "Kaohsiung will become rich." Her response by rolling her eyes quickly became a meme on social media in Taiwan and she was soon dubbed by fans as "the goddess of new villagers."

On Wednesday, Taiwanese were eager to see a sequel of the war of wits between Huang and Han as a new city council session got underway. As expected, Huang raised detailed questions about Han's free economic zone, such as its impact on information security, agriculture, and steel.

But instead of asking Han, she asked various Kaohsiung city officials such as Deputy Mayor Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) and the Director of Economic Development Fu Ho-chung (伏和中). She pointed out that the mayor's policy address, Economic Development Bureau posts, and statements by Kuomintang (KMT) legislators about the proposed free trade zone were all inconsistent and asked Fu to clarify the discrepancies.

Huang. (CNA photo)

Fu responded by saying, "The vision we want is within the scope of the Kuomingtang version," reported CNA. Huang then criticized Yeh's statement "delimiting a physical space called a free economic zone, loosening regulations, and enabling information security in the area," as being questioned by IT specialists, according to the report.

As for the relevant provisions of the KMT draft, which mentioned that 830 agricultural products would be opened up to China, she said it ignored the rights and interests of farmers. Huang then cited data to criticize the hasty addition of the free economic zone and claimed that the proposal deliberately avoided mentioning an impact on agriculture and manufacturing.

Huang also posed questions of the impact of the free trade zone on deep coal mining, medicine, tourism, as well as the rights and interests of workers, doctors, and nurses.

Not once during the 50-minute-long inquiry did Huang directly ask Han a question. Instead, she asked other bureau directors or deputy mayors directly, leaving Han to "sit on the bench," as local media portrayed it.

When asked by reporters about being "benched" by Huang, Han said, "I felt really lonely," reported UDN.

After the city council session, Huang told reporters, "If you know the extension number, you don't need to dial the switchboard operator. After you are transferred, you will only waste the [allotted] Q&A time." Huang then said that because the mayor is a "figurehead," she hoped to focus on matters relevant to the city and hurry up and engage in the most efficient discussion possible.