Kaohsiung mayor to be stripped of position by June 12, by-election to be held in 3 months

Han Kuo-yu will not be allowed to run for Kaohsiung mayor again in the next four years. PHOTO: REUTERS

KAOHSIUNG - Ousted Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu will be relieved of his position and duties by June 12, and a by-election for the new mayor will be held before Sept 12, within three months of Mr Han's termination.

According to Taiwan's Civil Servants Election and Recall Act, Mr Han, 62, who is from the main opposition party Kuomintang (KMT), that traditionally favours close ties with mainland China, will not be allowed to run for Kaohsiung mayor again in the next four years.

But the by-election will be put on hold should Mr Han and KMT decide to file a recall lawsuit to challenge the results.

A total of 939,090 people voted for Mr Han's removal on Saturday, which was more than the number of people that voted for his mayoral election in November 2018.

Many of these residents in Kaohsiung, in the unprecedented recall vote, showed their disapproval over Mr Han's unfulfilled campaign promises, and his taking months off for his presidential campaign last year, just months after he was voted as Kaohsiung mayor.

After the vote, the KMT reasserted its opposition to Beijing, as well as a "Taiwan first" stance, recognising that the scale of the backlash also showed growing resentment of China's actions and China's preferred politicians.

The Executive Yuan - or Cabinet - will appoint an interim mayor for the time being, before candidates running for mayor vacancy emerge.

Local media outlets have reported on the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) plans for the by-election, saying it will most likely ask current Vice-Premier Chen Chi-mai to run for Kaohsiung mayor again.

In the 2018 mayoral race, Mr Chen lost to Mr Han, who received 53.86 per cent of eligible votes to Mr Chen's 44.8 per cent.

The KMT said on Saturday night (June 6) that the party advised Mr Han against filing a recall lawsuit, to which Mr Han's team responded by promising to follow the party's wishes.

"The Han-recall just ended... I think the best step for Mayor Han is to wait for things to settle. Mr Han included, the KMT included, should be reflecting hard (on the next steps)," said Mr Huang Tzu-che, deputy director of the KMT's Cultural and Communications Committee, on Saturday.

However, Professor Fan Shih-ping, a political scientist at the National Taiwan Normal University, thinks otherwise, saying: "He'll (Mr Han) file the lawsuit because it takes about six months to process, and he wants to drag this out for as long as possible."

Some reports in the local media have said that Mr Han might run for the next KMT chairman in 2021, after incumbent chairman Chiang Chi-cheng's term ends next May.

Prof Fan said: "I'm thinking he might even run for the next Taoyuan mayor. There are a great many military family villages in Taoyuan City, he can garner support from them and even raise funds... If the DPP doesn't come up with someone good enough, he might just win again."

On Saturday night, Kaohsiung's city council speaker Hsu Kun-yuan fell to his death from his 17th-floor apartment. The police have yet to connect the incident directly to Mr Han's removal, saying Mr Hsu's death is still under investigation.

The late speaker had been a vocal supporter of Mr Han since the mayor took up his position in 2018.

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