MODEL STUDENTS: At several recent school events honoring top students, some teenagers have used photo-ops with the mayor to signal their disapproval of him
By Wang Jung-hsiang, Huang Hsu-lei and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporters, with staff writer
As Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu （韓國瑜） ratchets up his Chinese Nationalist Party （KMT） presidential primary bid, he is running into opposition from an unexpected quarter: high-school students in the city.
During at least six events, Han has encountered challenges from teenagers, or students wearing sarcastic T-shirts or carrying signs or other props as they pose for photographs with him.
The first was a ninth-grader at Chung Shan Senior High School surnamed Wu （吳）, who on Wednesday last week after being photographed with the mayor at an event honoring model students of the year, told Han: “Your bid for the presidency is ridiculous.”
“Do not allow your sentimentality to overpower your rationality. Wake up,” Wu added.
A Fongshan Vocational High School student surnamed Huang （黃） on Friday wore a T-shirt that read “Run Away” for a photo with Han at a ceremony for model students.
At a similar event on Monday at Kaohsiung Senior High School, one student held translation of US author Brian King’s book The Lying Ape as he posed beside Han; another student wore a Democratic Progressive Party campaign T-shirt for their photo opportunity.
At Hsin Chuang High School yesterday, a student surnamed Chen （陳） held up a sign that read “Finish Your Term,” that she had hidden under her commendation until it was time for her to be photographed with Han, while a student surnamed Lee flashed a sign that read “Finish Your Term, Love Kaohsiung.”
A student surnamed Chen （陳） later told reporters that school officials had stopped him from bringing a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal to the event, which he said was meant to be a jab at the mayor.
“I think it is a great thing when young people speak their mind,” Han said yesterday in response to media queries.
He has always encouraged young people to express their opinions and will support them under any circumstances, but it is “inappropriate” to tie political issues to an educational event, he said.
“If students have opinions, they can express them off-stage,” he added.
Taking a photo on stage with the mayor after receiving an award for graduating with top grades is the “most honorable moment of [a student’s] life” and he hopes such educational events can remain pure, Han said.
New Power Party Kaohsiung City Councilor Huang Jie （黃捷） on Monday said complaints about the students’ lack of decorum or rudeness were misguided.
“Students are getting an education, not for the sake of their parents or teachers, but to have critical thinking skills for themselves,” she said. “Students should be encouraged to express their views and not live for the expectation or approval of their elders.”
Insurance company manager Wu E-yang （吳萼洋）, who ran for Taipei mayor in last year’s election as an independent, was quoted by SET TV News on Friday as saying that Han had lost the respect of high-school students with his “unseemly ambition” and that his presidential aspirations could “end up being the joke of the year.”
The publisher of the Chinese-language version of The Lying Ape on Monday wrote on Facebook that the book was sold out.
Morning Star Publishing yesterday began running an advertisement banner on its Web site that said it was sorry that translation of The Lying Ape was out of print and suggesting readers choose Japanese psychologist Yuuki Yu’s educational manga, The Psychology of Lying.
Additional reporting by Ann Maxon and Chang Chung-yi
A graduate of Chung-Hwa School of Arts holds a banner asking Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu, left, to serve a full term as she poses for a photograph with Han during an event at the school yesterday honoring model students. Photo: Chang Chung-yi, Taipei Times
Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu, left, poses with a Kaohsiung Senior High School student holding a copy of the Chinese edition of Brian King’s The Lying Ape on Monday at an event for outstanding graduating students. Photo: Chang Chung-yi, Taipei Times