The Power of Down to Earth — They Talk the Talk, I Walk the Walk
Speech by Mayor Han Kuo-yu at Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies
Good afternoon, Director Szonyi, Director Goldstein, ladies and gentlemen, this is my greatest honor and pleasure to be here today and to begin with, I would like to express my appreciation for the long term friendship between the United States and the ROC, and for the support from the US government and its people, so we can engage and cooperate closely. I am more than honored to have this amazing opportunity standing at this podium, in front of the distinguished scholars at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, the most esteemed institution of Chinese Studies in the world, to share my story and to talk about what I think and what I want to do as Mayor of Kaohsiung.
In Taiwan, there are a lot of people calling me a “produce vendor.” Mainly because I worked in a local agricultural products marketing company before I ran in the Mayor election. The media often describes me with the term “down to earth,” and few individuals even name me “country bumpkin” for my humble origins, and my rather direct and unrefined language. Well today, this bald country bumpkin from Taiwan is standing before you, on the campus of one of the most prestigious universities in the world : Harvard! A few months ago, many could not have imagined this, even in their wildest dreams!
What brings me to Harvard today, is the fact that last November, I won an election in Southern Taiwan that nobody thought I could possibly win. Besides, people are saying that I single-handedly reshaped the politics of Taiwan. They are calling this wide -spread political current the “hanliu” or “Han wave.”
However, I don’t believe in “hanliu” or “Han Wave” because I know very well that what brings me to the Mayor position and to speak to you today, is not me as an individual, but is the will of the people . People in Taiwan, especially in Kaohsiung, have had enough of the unproductive government, enough of all the nonsense of ideological manipulation, and enough of pathetic politicians who only talk without making worthy actions.
The reason behind our success, is not because I am at any rate a great person. It is because Taiwan’s current ruling party is not doing a good job. They have disappointed the people, so the people want something different. In fact, the people of Taiwan dislike not just the DPP, but they are tired of all of traditional politicians. Especially those politicians who come up with fancy slogans and empty promises. They don’t know, and they don’t care what the people really need. They only talk the talk, but me, I walk the walk.
I walk to the people from all walks of life, with an emphasis on socially vulnerable groups. I insist to stay overnight in different folks’ places once a month, to get close to their real life. I have stayed in an orphanage, a fisherman’s association, a taxi driver’s home and will stay in many others’ places as well. I also walk to the world, to Mainland China, to Southeast Asia, to America and hopefully to more other places in the world. This is not because I like to be Mr. Fogg who travelled around the world in 81 days, but because Kaohsiung deserves more visibility and opportunities. Kaohsiung has been isolated and closed off for too long. As a result, the economy and population are sadly declining. We need to walk out to the world to promote our produce and products, to attract more visitors, and to carry out what I advocate loudly for, “Export Goods Out, Welcome People In, Let Kaohsiung Prosper!”