Han Kuo-yu ousted from Kaohsiung mayor position

China | 6 Jun 2020 5:35 pm

More than 570,000 Taiwanese in Kaohsiung have voted out for their mayor Kuomingtang (KMT)'s Han Kuo-yu in a recall vote today.

Results from Taiwan's first recall election showed that the 62-year-old former legislator from New Taipei – who had failed to bid for presidency in January – has received more than 574,996 votes in favor of the recall motion, exceeding the benchmark number of votes to remove him from office.

The motion is considered valied if at least a quarter - or 575,000 voters cast their ballots against Han's office.

More than 803,257 eligible voters in the 38 administrative districts of Kaohsuing voted for Han's removal and 21,379 opposed the proposal, while votes are still being counted.

Han won a surprise victory in 2018 as the city mayor as Kaohsiung had long been a stronghold of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which rejects China's advocate that Taiwan is considered as part of Chinese territory.

However, the politician from the pro-Beijing nationalist party was heavily criticized following his decision to take a leave of absence to seek the presidency just months after the taking office, a petition campaign was launched to seek his recall.

He was lambasted for his contacts with China's Communist Party and was defeated by DPP incumbent president Tsai Ing-wen by a whopping 57 percent to 38 percent, with a third party candidate taking the remaining percentage.

Han conceded his recall during a concession speech he made in Kaohsiung, shortly after the 575,000 votes threshold passed. He thanked his supporters who voted for him in last mayor's election, but accused DDP for smearing him.

Tension between Taiwan and China has grown as Tsai was re-elected in January's presidential election. There was also strong disapproval from Taiwanese rejecting Beijing's offer to rule the island under the governing principle of “one country, two system” amid the social unrest in Hong Kong.

China has shunned Tsai shortly after her 2016 inauguration, banning the already diplomatically isolated island from international forums and stepping up its threat to conquer Taiwan by military force. But Tsai has received strong support from the Trump administration as relationships between Beijing and Washington deteriorates.

Han will need to hand over his post within seven days after the election authorities officially announce the results of the recall vote, which is expected by 7 pm tonight.

According to the recall regulation, the cabinet will nominate an official as the acting mayor after Han steps down and a by-election will be held in three months to elect a new mayor. Han will also be barred from running for Kaohsiung's mayor election in the following four years.

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