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Han Kuo-yu unfazed as recall vote set for June 6

Kaohsiung mayor declares business as usual, promises to continue serving city

Poster calling for the recall of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu

Poster calling for the recall of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Following two petitions to remove Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) from office, a recall vote set for June 6 was announced by the Central Election Commission (CEC) on Friday (April 17).

Civic groups took into account the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic and formulated an “air combat” publicity strategy, which includes widespread social media usage and online mobilization, CNA reported. The recall of the Kaohsiung mayor is the first such occurrence in Taiwan's history.

Han responded to the CEC announcement by saying it was business as usual and he would continue working to prevent the further spread of coronavirus and protect Kaohsiung. He stressed that performing well in municipal administration and epidemic prevention was key to the wellbeing of Kaohsiung citizens.

At the same time as the election commission’s announcement, Wecare Kaohsiung, an anti-Han civic group, immediately posted a message online stating, "Vote on 0606 to recall Han!" The group said the goals of recalling Han and regaining Kaohsiung were close to being accomplished.

However, Yin Li (尹立), a founding member of Wecare Kaohsiung, warned, "A successful petition does not mean a successful recall vote." He added that recall vote activities should be in line with government measures for epidemic prevention.

The strategy to recall Han has been based on an “air combat” publicity campaign, supplemented by small-scale activities, Yin explained. He went on to say that he hoped to hold a televised recall briefing, in accordance with the “Implementation Measures for Public Officials’ Public Television Recall Briefings."

Chen Kuan-jong (陳冠榮), leader of the Han recall proposal, told CNA that he hoped there would be more than three debates or recall briefings. As for whether the mayor would participate, Chen confirmed he would face off with Han.

Yuan Te-ming (袁德明), director-general of the Kaohsiung City Election Commission, said the city election committee would handle the vote according to recall election regulations. He added he would also refer to the case of Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), a former legislator of the New Power Party (時代力量), and act impartially.

Huang had a recall election held against him in December 2017 over his support for same-sex marriage. Though votes supporting his removal outnumbered opposition votes, the election ultimately failed to meet the required threshold of one-fourth the district's total electorate.