Faced with a consistently low approval rating, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration should have a sense of crisis and strive to boost the economy, raise the employment rate and increase salary levels to win back the public’s support, a group of national policy advisers were quoted as saying at a meeting with the president on Friday.
The gathering, which was attended by nearly 40 advisers, was the latest in a series of similar meetings Ma has held this month with Cabinet members and senior and national policy advisers to hear suggestions on national policies amid growing public discontent over the government’s performance.
Several polls conducted in the latter half of this year found Ma’s approval rating lingering near the 20 percent mark — and sometimes even dropping below 15 percent.
“The administration’s performance in terms of policymaking has been received negatively by the public, in part because of the aftermath caused by its decision to raise fuel prices and electricity rates,” former Greater Taichung Council chairman and national policy adviser Lin Jen-te (林仁德) quoted a number of advisers as saying.
With more than three years left in Ma’s second term as president, his administration must strive to improve a lackluster economy and alleviate the public’s financial plight by being sensitive to and formulating policies that meet their needs, Lin quoted the advisers as saying.
They also urged Ma to adopt well-rounded complementary measures before enacting a national policy, while warning the president against what they described as a lack of discretion among some Cabinet and government officials when making comments pertaining to government policies, Lin said.
The Ma administration has given the public the perception that Ma lacks decisiveness and is constantly “dragging his feet” when making policy decisions, national policy adviser Lee Tsung-chi (李總集) said, as evidenced by its contentious handling of issues related to the year-end bonus for government retirees and the lifting of a ban on US beef containing the livestock feed additive ractopamine.
Singling out the US beef controversy, Lee said the Ma administration could have avoided criticism that it made contradictory remarks, if it had been frank with the public from the onset by admitting that the government was indeed under US pressure to relax the import ban.
However, national policy adviser Tsai Ling-lan (蔡鈴蘭), who did not join Friday’s meeting because of a scheduling conflict, said grassroots opinions were divided on the Ma administration’s performance.
“There are people who defend the government by attributing the nation’s poor economic performance to a sluggish global environment, while others lambast Ma for driving up commodity prices,” Tsai said.