Taipei-The number of the signatures submitted for a high-profile petition to recall Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (???) has passed the threshold for the first step of a recall process, the Central Election Commission (CEC) announced Friday.
A total of 28,560 signatures were verified as valid, higher than the required minimum of 22,814 for the petition, the commission said.
Under the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act, the first step in a three-step recall process is to raise a proposal containing the signatures of 1 percent of the constituency's eligible voters.
In the case of Kaohsiung's estimated 2.28 million eligible voters, this works out to be 22,800 signatures or more.
In the second phase, the initiators of the petition to recall Han, which was submitted one year after his inauguration on Dec. 25, 2018 as required by law, will have 60 days to collect the signatures of 10 percent of the eligible voters in Kaohsiung, or around 230,000 people, according to the CEC.
The previously collected signatures will not be considered valid in this step of the process, according to the Act.
In the third phase, a simple majority will have to vote in favor of a recall, with at least 25 percent of eligible voters participating -- roughly 570,000 in the case of Kaohsiung, the CEC said.
In response, Han said through the Kaohsiung City Information Bureau that he "respects the decision of the people" in the recall case. He added that his priority currently is to spare no efforts in managing city affairs.
Meanwhile, Aaron Yin (??), founder of the pro-recall organization WeCare Kaohsiung, urged city officials to stay out of the Kaohsiung City Election Commission so that the recall petition can be processed without any interference from them.
Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Chen Hsiung-wen (???), who also serves as the chairman of the municipality election commission, told CNA via telephone that there is no such requirement in the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act.
He promised that the recall petition will be handled in a fair and just manner.
The group that launched the recall campaign wants to punish Han for declaring his candidacy in the presidential race just three months after he began serving as mayor of Taiwan's third largest city.
WeCare has accused Han of abandoning Kaohsiung.
Han had suggested he was urged to run by officials in his party Kuomintang. His populist approach had made him very popular in the November 2018 local elections, helping him defeat the candidate from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), even though the DPP had held the Kaohsiung mayor position for three decades.
During the presidential race, Han had pledged to not abandon Kaohsiung, but rather pay more attention to the city and southern parts of Taiwan if elected president.
He began taking time off from his mayoral position to campaign for the presidency in October 2019, two months short of serving one full year as mayor.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel