Han Kuo-yu, a presidential candidate for Taiwan’s Kuomintang party and the Kaohsiung mayor, has accused his rival, incumbent leader Tsai Ing-wen, of using the “state apparatus” to keep tabs on him to discover his campaign tactics.

Han made the allegations after a member of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party posted photos of his family and aids holding discussions at a resort in Bali, Indonesia, during this year’s Lunar New Year holiday.

He claimed he may have been watched when he and his family traveled overseas.

“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.

Han also said his text messages, phone calls and emails were also tapped, and his advisors had urged him to use encrypted messaging apps to discuss the election and other sensitive issues. He feared that some information already collected by Tsai’s team could fuel the already “rabid mud-slinging against him,” adding that he now uses a BlackBerry phone for extra security.

His remarks came after the discovery of some bugging devices found in his office in the Kaohsiung government headquarters in May. Some of Han’s aides said they suspected his predecessor, the DPP’s Chen Chu, could be responsible. Chen is now Tsai’s chief of staff.

Taiwanese media reported extensively in the discovery of bugging devices in Han’s office in Kaohsiung.

Han is fighting waning popularity ratings as a growing number of voters surveyed by pollsters say they do not have faith in him resisting China. His image is also marred by rumors that he “has a mistress, binges on expensive wines and often patronizes nightclubs.”

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang has hit back at Han’s accusations, stressing that public figures would always be scrutinized but it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money and manpower to dispatch national security and intelligence agents to watch and tail Han.

But the KMT insisted the party and Han had been on the receiving end of slander and snooping, as Tsai was bent on securing another term. A KMT spokesman even likened the ongoing eavesdropping against the party to the Watergate scandal in the US in the 1970s.

Security and plainclothes guards at the entrance to the KMT’s headquarters in Taipei. Photo: WeChat

KMT chairman Wu Den-yih also revealed that servers at the party headquarters had been targeted by more hackers after the party’s primary in July and that Taipei’s public safety department had also conducted several surprise checks of the party’s office and made copies of documents to “ensure fire safety.”

He added that the KMT would consider hiring a private company to beef up security and apply for a court injunction to ban unauthorized searches of its offices and members.