President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has become a lame duck president with persistent low approval ratings and people have given up hope in him, academics said yesterday, after the results of a recent opinion poll were released.
Ma’s approval rating has dropped to a record-low 19.1 percent, and 60 percent of respondents said they did not expect a better performance from Ma in the remainder of his second term, the poll showed.
The survey, conducted by Taiwan Thinktank, polled respondents on Ma’s performance, as well as their views on public policies, such as the national referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, the 12-year compulsory education system and pension reform.
The survey found Ma’s approval rating was a dismal 19.1 percent, the lowest since the think tank began conducting a monthly tracking poll in March last year, and 69.9 percent of those polled said they were unsatisfied with his performance.
On a scale of one to 10, Ma only received a passing score of 5.19 on personal integrity and scored no more than 3.76 in the other five categories: understanding people’s needs, government personnel, promoting the economy, promoting social justice and safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty.
Overall, Ma scored 3.66 for his performance over the first year of his second term, the survey found.
Asked whether they expected Ma to do better in the remaining three years of his term, which began on May 20 last year, 60 percent of the respondents said ‘no,’ with only 28.8 percent saying that they still have hope.
“In general, Ma has been an arbitrary ruler in domestic affairs and a soft leader in external affairs,” Taiwan Thinktank president Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker, told a press conference.
The responses to other questions in the poll showed widespread public opposition to, and doubts about, government policies, Lin said, adding that “that is why Ma is insisting on running for another term as Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] chairman.”
“He has failed in too many areas and is already a lame duck, so the only way he can hang onto power is by controlling distribution rights as KMT chairman,” Lin said.
On the nuclear issue, 67 percent of the respondents said a national referendum over the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be held only after nuclear safety of the plant is assured, despite the government saying that the referendum and safety were different issues.
Almost half, or 49.2 percent of those polled, said they would support an opposition boycott at the Legislative Yuan if the government insisted on holding the referendum before safety checks at the plant are completed.
However, 75 percent of the respondents said they did not trust the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ inspection panel and 65.4 percent of the respondents said they would support halting the construction of the plant in the referendum.
Asked about pension reform, 67.4 percent of respondents said Ma’s current plan for reforms favored civil servants over private-sector workers.
Eighty percent of those polled were unfamiliar with the 12-year compulsory education system, with 69.1 percent saying that they had no confidence in the system.
A majority of respondents questioned Ma’s determination to fight corruption, with 67.6 percent saying that the judiciary had applied different standards in the corruption cases of former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) and former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), while 68.8 percent said Ma was not serious about combating graft.
“In examination of the ‘three P’s’ — personality, performance and policy — of Ma, it appeared that we could find little optimism about Ma’s future,” Academia Sinica assistant research fellow David Huang (黃偉峰) said.
The poll, conducted between Tuesday and Friday, collected 1,069 valid samples and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.