The government’s “state apparatus” might be spying on the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential nominee, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) said yesterday after a city councilor released a photograph of Han playing mahjong.

Kaohsiung City Councilor Lin Chih-hung (林智鴻), a Democratic Progressive Party member, on Wednesday posted a photo on Facebook purportedly showing Han playing mahjong with his wife, son and campaign spokeswoman Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) at a resort in Bali, Indonesia, during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Lin posted the photo after Han on Monday said that he has not played the game once since taking office late last year.

When asked about the photo yesterday, Han confirmed that he was in it, adding that he might be being stalked.

The photo was of excellent resolution and apparently shot using a professional camera, not a cellphone, he said.

A friend suggested that he might have been stalked, but he hopes that is not true, Han said.

“Government resources should not be abused in such a manner. What is the purpose of spying on the mayor of Kaohsiung all the time?” he asked.

He is now being scrutinized 24 hours a day, including during the Lunar New Year holiday, Han said.

“I have never played mahjong or gambled in Kaohsiung since becoming mayor,” he added.

The photo was taken by an ordinary businessman vacationing in Bali using a Samsung S9 smartphone, Lin said yesterday.

A user had shared another photo on Facebook of Han playing mahjong that night, Lin said, adding that the game took place in a public area.

“Playing mahjong is not a problem. The problem is whether he lied,” Lin said, adding that Han should provide evidence to back his claim that the government is spying on him.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that it is only natural that public figures are scrutinized, which sometimes means being photographed.

“However, the state apparatus is likely too busy to have had time to set him up,” Su said.

Separately, the KMT’s Kaohsiung chapter yesterday approved a decision to revoke the membership of former Kaohsiung County commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) and KMT Kaoshiung delegate Ao Po-sheng (敖博勝).

Yang and Ao breached party regulations by defaming Han, chapter head Chuang Chi-wang (莊啟旺) said.

The decision would be submitted to KMT headquarters for confirmation as soon as possible, Chuang said.

Yang, who had supported Han’s mayoral bid last year, on Tuesday wrote on Facebook that Han “has a mistress, binge drinks and goes to nightclubs.”

Ao said on a talk show that a senior colleague who had been out drinking with Han once described the mayor as “worse than a bandit.”

Choosing Han as the KMT’s presidential candidate was an irreversible error, Ao said.

Shortly after the KMT announced its decision to revoke their membership, Yang said he would apply to leave the party.

He wrote the Facebook post because he was worried about the future of the KMT and the nation, he told reporters, adding that he has been a KMT member for about five years.

The party’s decision shows it is becoming intolerant of different opinions and “more authoritarian than it was during the authoritarian era,” he said.

Additional reporting by Sean Lin, Chen Wen-chan and CNA