Thu, Nov 24, 2016 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Tsai’s underwhelming administration

Having won nearly 57 percent of the popular vote in the Jan. 16 presidential election, expectations were high when President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was sworn into office in May.

However, just six months later, opinion polls show her approval rating has plummeted dramatically.

In a poll released by Taiwan Indicators Survey Research late last month, her approval rating stood at 34.9 percent, down by 2.7 percentage points from the previous survey, with 48.4 percent of respondents expressing dissatisfaction with her leadership, an increase of 2 percentage points from the previous poll.

A poll published by the Taiwan Thinktank on Nov. 11 showed her approval rating fell below her disapproval rating for the first time since her inauguration, with her approval rating at 40.6 percent, while her disapproval rating was 42.8 percent.

A poll published by the Chinese-language Apple Daily on Saturday last week showed that 58 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with Tsai’s performance, compared with 34 percent who said they are satisfied. That poll found that 59 percent of resondents were not satisfied with Premier Lin Chuan’s (林全) performance, compared with 31 percent who said they were.

Granted, polls by and large are mostly for reference only, but that different surveys conducted by separate outlets all show weakening support for Tsai is a clear indication of the public’s grievances with her administration.

Why the slip? The answer is simple: the public’s disappointment.

“I would like to tell you that, regarding the results of the Jan. 16 elections, I have always had one interpretation only. The public elected a new president and new government with one single expectation: solving problems,” Tsai said in her May 20 inauguration address.

However, rather than solving problems, what the public has instead witnessed is the administration creating problems by stirring up controversies with almost every one of its policies.

From pension reform, the proposed five-day workweek with “one fixed day off and one flexible rest day,” to a plan to lift the ban on food products imported from five Japanese prefectures affected by the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster, just to name a few, not a single policy proposal reflects the sort of “most communicable government” that the president pledged.

Nobody says governing and implementing reforms is easy, but it seems that Tsai has forgotten her solemn pledge that her administration would pay close attention to the public’s concerns.

Tsai’s administration is clearly risking its credibility with a slew of vacillating policies — let alone broken promises — on issues such as implementing judicial reform and the snails pace of investigations into Mega International Commercial Bank and XPEC Entertainment cases.

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) insightfully pointed out in his recent interview with Japan’s Sankei Shimbun that Tsai’s administration “lacks courage and decisiveness,” adding that its problems with its attempts at judicial, pension and labor reforms are due to a lack of these qualities.

Hopefully the results of recent polls and Lee’s words will serve as sufficient warning, reminding Tsai and the Cabinet that the government as a whole must stop drawing the ire of the public with what appear to be arbitrary and capricious actions.

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