Behind in polls, Taiwan president contender tells supporters to lie to pollsters

FILE PHOTO: Opposition Nationalist Kuomintang Party (KMT) leader Han Kuo-yu celebrates after winning in local elections in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, November 24, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

TAIPEI (Reuters) - The main opposition contender for Taiwan’s Jan. 11 presidential election said on Friday people should lie to pollsters to trick the ruling party into thinking they were going to win.

Han Kuo-yu, standing on the presidential ticket for the Kuomintang party which favors close ties with China, is running a double-digit deficit in opinion polls behind President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Han told reporters late on Thursday there were “many really strange polls” and even “fake polls” and people should refuse to answer calls from pollsters.

However, writing on his Facebook page on Friday, Han said people should simply tell pollsters they were supporting Tsai.

“From now on if you get a opinion poll call keep saying ‘(I) only support Tsai Ing-wen,” he wrote. “Together we can make the DPP happy until Jan. 10, 2020!”

Senior DPP legislator Lo Chih-cheng said Han’s suggestions to either tell pollsters they don’t know or that they support Tsai were “laughable and ignorant”, and that Han was only trying to make himself feel better.

“The most real public opinion is on the streets, in the parks, temples and market. Unless Han Kuo-yu hides at home and doesn’t go out, how can he not hear or see the change in public opinion?,” Lo wrote on his Facebook page.

Opinion polls for Taiwan elections are traditionally seen as being unreliable, due to the highly partisan nature of Taiwan’s media and politics, though most of the recent polls have Han behind Tsai.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard