Sun, Sep 10, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Academics tout sharing of wealth

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA, TAIPEI

The government should continue striving to improve the overall economy to bolster its sagging approval ratings, giving priority to a redistribution of wealth that would benefit the disadvantaged, a group of academics said yesterday.

The academics offered the recommendations after Shih Hsin University unveiled the results of its latest opinion survey, which shows widespread public dissatisfaction with the current administration.

According to a telephone survey of 1,056 adults on Tuesday and Wednesday, President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) job approval rating remains low, at 18 percent.

Premier Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) approval rating stood at 42 percent, while 43 percent of respondents said they disapproved of him. His approval rating was 6.6 points lower than the level recorded in a similar poll in May.

In the latest survey, 31 percent said that the Cabinet's performance was acceptable, while 55 percent thought otherwise.

Analyzing the survey findings, National Open University professor Lai Shih-pei (賴世培) said he believed the best strategy for the government to rescue its slumping popularity was to rev up the economy.

According to Lai, a robust economy would help curtail crime and win back public confidence and trust.

Lai said the government should come up with a blueprint for economic reinvigoration.

With the gap between rich and poor swiftly widening, Lai said it was most important for the government to push forward with a redistribution of wealth in favor of the disadvantaged. The government should refrain from a bias in appeasing the rich or large business groups, he added.

Wu Tung-yeh (吳東野), a National Chengchi University professor, echoed Lai's view, saying that law and order, the economy and environmental protection topped the list of popular concerns.

"There is ample room for the current administrative team to improve in all these domains," he said.

Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), a professor at Tamkang University, said the survey results show that a majority of respondents are still dissatisfied with domestic law and order.

Su vowed to improve law and order upon assuming the premiership early this year, and vowed to step down if the public did not see an improvement in the crime situation.

According to the latest Shih Hsin survey, 54 percent of respondents said they felt the crime situation had remained unchanged, and 28 percent said they felt it had deteriorated.

"The figures indicate an overwhelming majority of those interviewed do not feel comfortable with the law and order [situation]. The public generally feels that rampant phone fraud has continued unabated," Shih said, adding that the government should continue an all-out "clean sweep" to thwart crime.

The survey showed that 65 percent of respondents said they felt safer walking in the vicinity of their homes at night over the past three months, indicating a perceived improvement in law and order within their neighborhoods.

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