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Opposition forces pan Ma over livelihood issues

2012/04/15 18:56:49

Taipei, April 15 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou's handling of bread-and-butter issues has raised public concerns and could become a major hurdle during his second term, an opposition party-led think tank said Sunday.

According to a poll by the Taiwan Brain Trust, a majority of respondents were dissatisfied with the government's recent decisions to raise fuel prices and electricity rates.

More than 90 percent of the respondents said recent gasoline price hikes and other increases in commodity prices have increased their financial burden, while 8 percent said the impact was limited.

The need to tighten their budgets has also led to people's discontent with the government, as the poll showed 85.3 percent of respondents saying they felt dissatisfied with the government's ability to handle livelihood issues.

"The results indicates Ma's aloofness," said Wu Rong-i, a former vice premier under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration from 2000-2008.

Wu criticized Ma for failing to offer complementary measures to reduce the impact of utility price hikes but instead "threw the financial burden to families and businesses."

He also urged the government to increase financial incentives to encourage the use of green energy.

Other scholars argued that if the government did not adjust the way it implements policies, Ma could face serious challenges during his second term in office, which begins on May 20.

"If Ma keeps doing business in the same way, Taiwan's people will express their opposition in the 2014 local and municipal elections," said former DPP spokesman Lo Chih-cheng.

Lo cited poll results showing that only 18.7 percent of respondents said they "felt satisfied with the president's performance since he was re-elected on Jan. 14," while 73.8 percent were not satisfied.

In response, Executive Yuan spokesman Philip Yang said the government respects all polls and is willing to listen to voices from all circles of society, but ruling Kuomintang spokeswoman Ma Wei-kuo questioned the survey's credibility.

She cited examples of the think tank's inaccurate surveys before past elections, such as the Jan. 14 presidential election this year, where the actual result turned out to be completely different from what was seen in its poll.

The think tank should not manipulate polls to serve political purposes, she said.

The survey, which was conducted April 5-6, obtained 1,079 valid responses and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.0 percentage points.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin and Nell Shen)