President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) approval rate has dropped to 38.5 percent, with two out of three people saying they are not satisfied with Ma’s handling of the US beef controversy, a poll showed yesterday.
The survey, conducted by Taiwan Thinktank on Wednesday and Thursday last week, was the third public opinion poll showing Ma’s approval ratings dipping below 40 percent in the past two weeks.
A Taiwan Brain Trust think tank poll on March 7 and March 8 showed Ma’s approval rating plummeting to 26.1 percent, while a poll by TVBS on Monday and Tuesday last week showed his approval rating at 28 percent.
The widespread public discontent is believed to center around the Ma government’s decision to conditionally lift the ban on beef containing ractopamine, Soochow University professor Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said.
The latest poll showed that 70.8 percent of respondents supported the current policy of “zero-tolerance” for US beef imports containing ractopamine. A total of 67.5 percent of respondents also polled disapproved of Ma’s handling of the dispute, and 65.8 percent said they do not believe the government would be able to implement its four-point pledge, which includes requiring mandatory labeling on beef imports and differentiating standards for beef and pork imports.
Ma did not fare well in other areas either, with 61.7 percent of respondents saying that they were not taken care of by the government during Ma’s nearly four years in office, with the figure rising to three in four people in the southern counties of Yunlin and Chiayi, as well as Greater Tainan.
Asked about prospects, 46.5 percent thought that the nation’s economic outlook was dismal, while 30 percent expressed optimism.
Overall, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said the survey highlighted the public’s grievance against the Ma administration, with its feelings of dissatisfaction, unfairness and pessimism.
“Food safety has become the public’s latest concern and rising commodity prices could be next,” Lin said.
On the economic front, Kenneth Lin (林向愷), a retired professor from National Taiwan University, said Ma had failed to lay out a grand scheme for the nation’s future economic development and the president “seemed to rely solely on Chinese investment for short-term solutions.”
“The real problem with Taiwan is that salaries and job opportunities have stagnated although the economy grew,” Lin said.
The poll, which collected 1,076 samples, also found that 46.7 percent of respondents were not satisfied with the new Cabinet led by Premier Sean Chen (陳冲).