Tue, Feb 21, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Tsai’s, Cabinet’s approval ratings rise

POLICIES QUESTIONED:Public opinion is almost evenly divided over the government’s ability to implement pension reforms, but almost half doubt its push for judicial reforms

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation chairman You Ying-lung presents the result’s of the foundation’s latest opinion poll on the government’s approval rating at a news conference yesterday in Taipei.

Photo: Wang Yi-song, Taipei Times

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the Cabinet have regained some public approval, the latest poll by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation showed, with a bump of more than 7 percentage points.

It is the first time that their approval ratings have gone up since the administration took office in May last year.

The poll, released yesterday, found that 41.5 percent of respondents approved of Tsai, up from 33.8 percent last month, while the number of those who disapproved of her fell from 54.4 percent last month to 41.3 percent.

“The rebound in Tsai’s approval rating is a surprising turn, and might be caused by an NT$800 billion [US$25.97 billion] infrastructure proposal, the Cabinet reshuffle and the pension reform drive,” foundation chairman You Ying-lung (游盈隆) told a news conference in Taipei.

The foundation’s polls put Tsai’s approval rating at 69.9 percent when she was inaugurated, but her numbers had been on a steady decline.

The Cabinet’s approval rating was up by 6.4 percentage points to 33.6 percent compared with last month’s poll, while its disapproval rating dropped by 8.6 percentage points to 52 percent.

Asked about the Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month, 36.3 percent of respondents said the scale of the changes was appropriate, 18.7 percent said it was too small and 14.4 percent said it was too large, while 30.3 percent were undecided or indifferent.

However, asked if they could name Cabinet members, few respondents could name names.

Only 21 percent of respondents were able to name Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦), but even so, he had the highest name recognition.

The names of Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三), Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維), Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) and Minister of Labor Lin Mei-chu (林美珠) were recognized by 8.7 percent, 8.5 percent, 8.4 percent and 8.3 percent of respondents respectively. Fewer than 3 percent of respondents knew the names of the rest of the Cabinet.

That lack of recognition could offset the Cabinet’s efforts to communicate government policies to the public, You said.

“Cabinet members have a ridiculously low level of public attention. It has to be [Premier] Lin Chuan’s (林全) top priority to improve [the Cabinet’s image] if he wants to hold another Cabinet ‘workshop,’” You said.

Asked about pension reform efforts, 40.9 percent of respondents thought the government’s plan to phase out the 18 percent preferential savings rate for retired public-sector employees over six years was a suitable amount of time, while 32.4 percent thought it was too slow and 14.3 percent said it was too fast, You said.

Those numbers suggest that a public consensus on the matter has yet to be formed, he said.

However, 38.6 percent of respondents said the proposal to lower the income replacement ratio for retired public employees from 75 percent to 60 percent in 16 years was too slow, 34.9 percent said it was well-paced and 10.4 percent said it was too fast.

The poll found that opinion was nearly evenly split when it came to faith in the ability of Tsai’s government to carry out pension reforms: 47 percent of the respondents said yes and 46.2 percent said no.

Asked about the new labor laws, more than half of respondents, or 54.9 percent, did not support the five-day workweek policy with one regular day off and one flexible “rest day,” while 35.8 percent backed it.

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