Kaohsiung mayoral candidates trade barbs in election debate

KMT’s Kaohsiung mayoral candidate, Han Kuo-yu, has proven unexpectedly successful to win over youth support.

TAIPEI (The China Post) – The Kaohsiung mayoral race has turned into one of the hottest contests in the upcoming election with tensions flaring on Monday between the candidates of the main ruling and opposition parties, Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) and Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), respectively.

The main candidates in the election not only squared off during the television debate on issues ranging from the economy, investment and tourism, to population and administrative competency, but also traded barbs on various issues.

Among other highlights, Chen criticized Han and the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) for using derogatory and foul language to describe Kaohsiung and Chen Chu (陳菊), the southern city’s former mayor, during the campaign.

Chen also tried to portray Han as an outsider who is “unfamiliar” with Kaohsiung by asking questions about his plans to turn the city’s 16 fishing ports into modern fishing harbors.

Han first tried to distance himself from KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih’s (吳敦義) statement on the former mayor. “I hereby reaffirm that anyone who campaigns for me should refrain from abusive words,” he said.

Han then dodged the “meaningless” question about the fishing harbors, saying that he wants to become the new Kaohsiung mayor even though he just moved to Kaohsiung a year ago and could not have a “full understanding” of all municipal issues. “It’s like I wouldn’t ask you how many fire hydrants there are in Kaohsiung,” he said.

Meanwhile, Han contended that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has ruled the city for two decades without solving most of the problems. Something he previously highlighted in his statement on the “old and poor” Kaohsiung.

He quoted the former mayor who once said that the city is confronted with issues ranging from an economy in transition, to population aging and fiscal imbalances. He stressed that people in Kaohsiung need a brand-new mayor to address such important challenges.

The two-hour-long debate was held on Monday night. It was broadcast live on Sanlih E-Television and the Public Television Service. Independents Chu Mei-feng (璩美鳳) and Su Ying-kuei (蘇盈貴), who are also vying for Kaohsiung mayor, did not participate in the debate because they were not invited, the organizers said.

— By Joyce Weng | Special to The China Post