Aug 31, 2016

    Honeymoon over for Taiwan president

    THE initial period of goodwill appears to be drawing to an end, with survey results on Monday showing that Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's disapproval rating had risen 24 percentage points since she took office in May.

    Her approval rating had fallen 17.6 percentage points to 52.3 per cent, while her disapproval rating had increased to 33.2 per cent, according to the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation.

    Experts at the press conference said her sliding popularity reflected a lack of support for her administration's handling of national affairs, especially personnel appointments.

    Survey respondents scored her administration's performance an average of 61.28 out of 100, which foundation chairman You Ying-lung called a "narrow passing grade".

    The survey also asked respondents to indicate where they stood on a number of issues.

    On the Tsai administration's efforts at economic revitalisation, 45.9 per cent of respondents expressed approval while 45.5 per cent disapproved.

    Mr You said Taiwan's economic struggle had become a major headache for the administration and that the latest disapproval rating must be taken seriously.

    About 51 per cent of respondents expressed support for her handling of cross-strait relations while 39.6 per cent disapproved.

    Three months ago, only 16 per cent said they disapproved of Tsai's cross-strait policy of maintaining the status quo, while an overwhelming 70 per cent expressed support.

    Mr You suggested that the decline in her popularity and public support was also linked to increasing disfavour from survey participants who were previously neutral, as well as a gradual lean towards the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).

    This "migration" of the neutral electorate has become a marked phenomenon since she took office.

    According to the latest survey, the KMT may be on the rebound from its dramatic fall from grace in the last two major elections.

    But National Sun Yat-sen University Professor Liao Dachi noted that the survey participants still gave Ms Tsai 61.28 out of 100, meaning that supporters were still willing to give the new government "the benefit of doubt".

    Still, Shih Cheng-feng, a politics professor at National Dong-hua University, panned the administration for backtracking on important campaign promises, leading the electorate to feel that they had been cheated.