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Talk of the day -- Six years in office, president gets thumbs-down

2014/05/21 20:04:51

President Ma Ying-jeou celebrated his sixth inauguration anniversary May 20 with pledges to address youth concerns. Meanwhile, poll results show that public satisfaction over his administration has climbed to 30 percent from 9 percent, his lowest point, when he was involved in a political struggle with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng in September 2013.

Despite the improvement, Ma's popularity has never recovered to its peak of over 60 percent he enjoyed when he first won the presidency in 2008. People feel disappointed with his administration over the past half-decade, during which Ma has been blamed for the economic slowdown, rising unemployment, frequent political conflicts, an expanding rich-poor gap and low wages.

The following are excerpts of local newspaper comments on Ma's performance:

United Daily News:

Ma wasted a lot of time and energy promoting the reforms he has pledged, ranging from pension and tax reforms to education. Most of the reforms were planned based on social justice and fairness but have failed to earn applause.

Ma believes that he and his administration have worked hard to make the country better, but what they have earned is people's disappointment and anger. Some have even accused the president of "selling out Taiwan" while others have called him a "dictator."

What went wrong? The president should think carefully about this.

The latest world competitiveness rating by the Lausanne, Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD) put Taiwan in 13th place, marking the third year the country has fallen in the evaluation.

Attributing the drop to government policies and an unstable political situation, the IMD has suggested that Taiwan try to achieve cohesiveness in society and promote social integration. (May 21, 2014)

China Times:

Ma has never really looked into what caused his administration to go wrong. His attitude is the reason the popularity of his administration has lingered at a low level.

People's expectations for Ma's government went downhill, with deep-blue voters complaining about Ma's decisions to appoint Cabinet posts, while the green camp always simply opposes the government.

Public discontent increased when the Ma government -- in his second term -- announced plans to raise gasoline and electricity prices, impose a capital gains tax and reform the pension system. People blasted Ma for striving to leave a historic legacy at the expense of their benefits and rights.

After the Sunflower Movement against the trade-in-services agreement with China that took place between March and April, Ma's public satisfaction rate climbed to 30 percent. The change means nothing except for the return of Ma's diehard supporters to his camp.

The environment has changed, as well as people's trust of Ma. The only thing unchanged is Ma's continuing to think only of himself, and his insistence on continuing reforms to show "his responsibility to history." (May 21, 2014)

Liberty Times:

Poll results released by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party May 20 show that 60.6 percent of the survey respondents are dissatisfied with the performance of the Ma administration.

The government has failed in 12 administrative performance indexes covering cross-Taiwan Strait relations and diplomacy, with an average score of just 40.5 points. Premier Jiang Yi-huah, meanwhile, received an average score of 41 points. (May 21, 2014)

(By Elizabeth Hsu)