Supporters of KMT mayor of Kaohsiung rally in Taiwan capital

Observers expect statement about presidential bid

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Thousands rally in Taipei to support Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu

Thousands rally in Taipei to support Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Thousands of supporters were arriving in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei Saturday (June 1) afternoon to call on Kaohsiung City Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) to run for president in next year’s elections.

While Han has kept a high profile in the media, he has been vague about his presidential plans, first saying he was not interested and later rejecting the Kuomintang’s (KMT) primary system.

After the opposition party decided to include him in polls to select a presidential nominee, he relented and said he would reply “Yes I Do” if they invited him. The English words featured on banners his supporters were waving at the Taipei event Saturday.

Before the rally, organizers said they were expecting 100,000 people to show up, but later said 250,000 were present. They had asked supporters to wear red. The southern mayor himself was not scheduled to show up until around 5 p.m., with many expecting him to make an official declaration about his presidential intentions.

Han was little known by the public at large until he surprisingly reconquered Kaohsiung last November after 20 years of rule by the Democratic Progressive Party.

As he has only run the city since December, critics have doubted he has the necessary experience to govern the whole country, while his attitude toward China has also come under fire.

Critics have described Han as a “populist” relying on slogans such as “making money,” while claiming Taiwan would be safe if everybody was making money.

Han is expected to face several other KMT contenders in the primaries, including most prominently Foxconn Group founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) and former New Taipei City Mayor Eric Liluan Chu (朱立倫).