Han to hold presidential rally in Hualien, despite fire

TAIPEI (CNA) – Kaohsiung Mayor and presidential hopeful Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) will hold a rally as scheduled in a Hualien night market June 8, despite a fire that broke out there early on June 3, according to several KMT councilors.

The blaze, which broke out at the Dongdamen Night Market in Hualien City at about 1 a.m. and burnt 42 stalls to the ground, was extinguished after an hour, the Hualien County Fire Department said, adding that no casualties were reported, as most of the vendors were closed at the time.

The department said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

However, the fire has not deterred Han from seeking public support in eastern Taiwan for his presidential bid, as a rally held in Taipei June 1 drew nearly 400,000 people chanting “Han Kuo-yu, president of the common people,” according to the organizers. Police, however, put the number at a mere 70,000.

The Hualien rally will be held as scheduled, KMT Taipei City Councilor Wang Hung-wei (王鴻薇), Tai Hsi-chin (戴錫欽), Wang Hsin-i (王欣儀) and New Taipei City Councilor Tang Hui-lin (唐慧琳) confirmed at a press conference Monday.

Tai urged Han supporters to gather in Hualien Saturday.

Interviewed by the media at Kaohsiung City Council, Han urged the Hualien police department to determine the cause of the fire as soon as possible and stressed that the wellbeing of affected stallholders is of the greatest importance.

Meanwhile, more than 10 Kaohsiung City Councilors of the Democratic Progressive Party urged Han to step down from his mayoral position to focus on his presidential bid, saying that the city’s environmental, epidemic and traffic problems have deteriorated since he assumed office Dec. 25 last year.

The KMT is set to release a final list of candidates to take part in its presidential primary June 10.

They include Han, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘), former New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), former Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), former Taipei Magistrate Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) and National Taiwan University political science professor Chang Ya-chung (張亞中).

Han is the only one of the six who has not yet officially announced his intention to compete in the primary, having said only that he does not oppose the idea of the party including his name.

The KMT plans to select its 2020 presidential candidate based on the results of public opinion polls, which will be conducted by five polling firms between July 5 and July 15. The winner will be officially announced July 28. ●

By Huang Li-yun, Tyson Lu, Wang Shwu-fen and Chung Yu-chen