Political Disputes in New Taipei City Ahead of Elections
New Taipei City Council Debates
In New Taipei City, Mayor Hou You-yi has taken a leave of absence to concentrate on the upcoming elections, a move that has sparked criticism and debate within the city council. During a meeting convened on October 26th, members from both the blue and green parties were in attendance, with each side holding differing viewpoints on the mayor’s absence.
Members from the green camp requested that Mayor Hou return to his duties for the government report, general inquiries, and budget report. However, blue camp members countered these requests, citing that former Vice President Lai Ching-te had also been absent from the Tainan City Council for over 230 days in the past.
Deputy Mayor Steps in During Mayor’s Absence
In the interim, Deputy Mayor Liu He-ran has taken over in Mayor Hou’s absence. The mayor’s administrative report is scheduled for October 27th, general inquiries for October 24th, and the mayor’s report on the overall budget for 2024 is set for November 10th. However, there’s been a public outcry over the mayor’s decision to take leave during these crucial proceedings.
Criticism Over Mayor’s Absence
Zheng Yu-en, the convener of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) group, criticized the mayor for his absence, particularly because the budget expenditure this year is the highest in history. Zheng expressed concern over the mayor’s decision to run for president without explaining the budget to the council and appointing a deputy mayor without a public mandate.
Defense of Mayor’s Absence
In response to the criticism, Kuomintang (KMT) member Lin Guo-chun argued that the same standards should apply to both parties. He stated that Mayor Hou’s leave was legal, and that it was Lai who set the precedent for local autonomy in Taiwan.
Comparisons to Former Vice President Lai
DPP city councilor Dai Wei-shan countered that Lai’s absence was due to the bribery scandal involving the then council speaker, Lee Chuan-chiao. She noted that Lai was fighting against corruption, while Hou was completely absent from work, raising questions about his trips to Japan and Singapore. Furthermore, she criticized Hou’s decision to run for president despite his low satisfaction rating.
Dai further pointed out that Hou has received nearly 100 million dollars in election subsidies and rental income from 103 properties. In contrast, Lai continued to work at the Tainan City Hall despite his absence from the council. She urged Hou not to follow the example of Han Kuo-yu, who was criticized for his performance as mayor of Kaohsiung.
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