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Talk of the Day -- Ma's approval rate falls further in 2nd term

2013/05/14 17:58:31

President Ma Ying-jeou's approval rating has fallen to 21 percent from 23 percent a year ago, according to a United Daily News poll conducted as Ma nears the end of the first year of his second term in office. He was sworn in on May 20, 2012.

Disapproval of Ma's performance rose from 66 percent to 70 percent during the same period, the poll results showed.

Although the government continues to trumpet the economy as its top priority, its efforts have been found lacking, with 76.4 percent of respondents saying they were not satisfied with the current economic situation in Taiwan.

Ma received the highest ratings from respondents for his performance in dealing with foreign affairs and cross-strait relations, garnering 55.4 percent approval for his promotion of regional peace and 44.9 percent for progress made in Taiwan's exchanges with China over the past year.

The Ma administration's top priorities in the remaining three years of his current term should be getting the economy on the right track (chosen by 57.5 percent of respondents), and bridging the wealth gap (20.8 percent), the poll found.

Less important, according to respondents, were creating a clean government (11.0 percent), reconciling the blue and green camps (3.8 percent) and developing ties across the Taiwan Strait (1.8 percent).

The following are excerpts from the newspaper's coverage of the poll results and its analysis of the president's performance over the past year:

Ma's low approval rating is likely the result of the country's economic doldrums, according to Lin Chien-fu, a professor in National Taiwan University's Department of Economics.

The government's controversial policies, including its efforts to reform the public and private worker pension systems and imposing a capital gains tax on stock trades, have also made it difficult for Ma to win public support, Lin said.

Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li said, however, that it was the responsibility of people in power to build a consensus and push for reforms that may be unpopular initially but will ultimately win public approval.

Chang Wu-ueh, director of Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of China Studies, suggested that Ma apply his strength in foreign and cross-strait affairs to trade and economic issues.

Similarly, Tamkang University Professor Chao Chun-shan said dealing with East China Sea issues, including the dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands, and the recent row with the Philippines over its attack on a Taiwanese fishing boat on May 9, indicated that it was important to take a proactive stand in foreign affairs.

Liao Da-chi, director of National Sun Yat-sen University's Institute of Political Science, argued that it will be difficult for Ma to make major progress in ties with China, as the president has already done almost everything that can be achieved.

He should therefore turn his focus to increasing interaction with countries other than China, which will meet the hopes of Taiwan's people, Liao said.

The scholar also said the public was critical of the Ma administration's lack of efficiency in part because of the government's poor communication skills.

She cited Ma's capital gains tax on stock transactions and fuel and electricity price hikes as examples of the Ma administration's poor policy evaluation capabilities and its inability to sell policies to the public.

A total of 1,152 adults took part in the poll conducted by phone on May 3-7. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. (May 14, 2013)

(By Kay Liu)
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