Nearly 70 percent of respondents said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) “has lost the heart of the people” and that they opposed resolving the US beef dispute by relaxing a ban on imported beef containing ractopamine residue by an executive order, a public opinion survey found.
Results of the survey, conducted by Taiwan Thinktank on Thursday and Friday, continued to reflect Ma’s unpopularity — even among pan-blue supporters — shown in a recent series of polls.
“The results undoubtedly show that Ma is facing a governance crisis — a result of his ‘democratic authoritarianism,’” said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), one of four panelists at a press conference hosted by the think tank yesterday.
The poll found that 68.4 percent of respondents opposed an executive order as the solution to the longstanding dispute over ractopamine and 63.8 percent of those polled disagreed with Ma’s comments, in which he has said the objection to US beef imports amounted to an act of isolationism.
Only 18 percent of respondents supported the use of an executive order to resolve the legislative logjam over the issue.
However, public grievances with Ma’s governance were clear, with 68.9 percent saying Ma had lost the heart of the public and 57.7 percent expressing dissatisfaction with his administration’s efforts on flood relief in the wake of torrential rains throughout the nation last week.
People were also unhappy with Ma’s decision to raise fuel and electricity prices, with 80.6 percent saying their lives were burdened by the policies and 68.2 percent saying that the prices should not be raised before thorough investigations into scandals that recently surfaced surrounding state-run Taiwan Power Co (台電) and CPC Corp, Taiwan (台灣中油), are completed.
Ma’s poor performance appeared to have benefited the DPP, as 20.2 percent of respondents favored the DPP’s performance in the just-concluded legislative session versus the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) 12.2 percent. However, 28.4 percent voiced their disapproval of the showing by both parties.
If local elections were held throughout the nation today, 32.9 percent would vote for the DPP with the KMT trailing at 21.6 percent, the poll found.
“Most people could identify with Ma’s intention to take Taiwan to the promised land and become a utopia, but they have found out that they’ve been living in a kakotopia,” political analyst Yang Hsien-hung (楊憲宏) said.
“It was like making a right-turn signal, but the vehicle is turning left,” Yang said of Ma’s leadership, adding that the current political chaos went beyond Ma being a lame-duck president and signaled the KMT’s collapse.
Because of the substantial gap between the picture Ma had painted and reality, Yang proposed a national conference that would gather all the opposition parties, academics and civic groups for discussions of various policies and the direction of the nation.
“Then [they] could issue an ultimatum and talk to Ma, telling him that the path he has taken is wrong,” Yang said.
Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華), a professor at National Chengchi University, and Chiou Jiunn-rong (邱俊榮), a professor at National Central University, both warned the DPP against being “overjoyed at Ma’s dismal approval rates.”
“Quite the contrary, the dysfunction within the Ma administration means that the DPP can no longer perceive itself as only an opposition party and it should come up with better policies to persuade the public that it is indeed a better party than the KMT,” Chiou said.