About half of the public believes that it would be a “serious matter” if President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) doctoral dissertation is not authentic, a survey released yesterday by the Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation found.
Asked whether they knew about the controversy surrounding the authenticity of Tsai’s doctoral dissertation at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), 63 percent of respondents said “yes,” while 37 percent said “no.”
While 50.9 percent of respondents said that it would be serious if Tsai’s dissertation was proved problematic, 39.6 percent said that even so, it would not be a serious matter, while 4.5 percent said that they did not have an opinion on the matter.
A total of 49.7 percent of respondents said they did not believe that Tsai’s dissertation was problematic, while 24.6 percent said that they did and 13 percent had no opinion.
Tsai’s greatest mistake was that she did not personally present the dissertation — assuming that it is genuine — to refute the allegations at the earliest chance, which in turn fueled the controversy, foundation chairman Michael You (游盈隆) said.
Taiwan Association for China Human Rights chairman Yang Sen-hong (楊憲宏) said that while Tsai sought to counter the allegations by publishing the original version of the dissertation on Monday, she did not preside over the news conference and that the so-called “original” — a stack of unbound papers — was not the final product.
Asked about the nation’s decreasing number of diplomatic allies, 42.8 percent of respondents said that they were worried, with 20.2 percent saying that they were “very worried.”
However, 52.9 percent of respondents said they were not worried, with 28.1 percent saying that they were “not worried at all.”
Compared with the results of a survey released in June 2017 after Panama severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan, those “worried” dropped by 3.8 percentage points, while those unfazed by such an incident increased by 5.3 percentage points.
Instead of “terrorizing small nations” with the consequences of switching recognition from Taiwan to China, Washington should establish formal diplomatic ties with Taipei, especially if a trade dispute ends up hurting the US more than China, University of Taipei associate professor Timothy Ting (丁庭宇) said.
If the US is serious about confronting China, it should forge ties with Taiwan, he said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) should be bold and proactively push for formal ties with Washington, just as the government once proposed that it assist US troops at the beginning of the Korean War by providing aircraft, personnel and other supplies, Ting added.
Asked which presidential candidate or hopeful has the highest morals, 47.7 percent of respondents said Tsai, 20.5 percent said former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), an independent, and 18.7 percent said Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidate.
Asked who they would vote for in a one-on-one race, 53.6 percent of respondents said Tsai, while 30.9 percent said that they would vote for Han, while 14.8 percent were undecided.
The survey suggested that after Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) decided not to run, about 70 percent of their supporters are inclined to vote for Tsai, while Han only siphoned off about 5 percent, You said, citing a comparison of the results with those of a survey in July, when the support ratings of Tsai, Han, Ko and Gou were 29.7 percent, 29.3 percent, 18.3 percent and 15.9 percent respectively.
If Han does not come up with a game-changing plan, he is likely set for a landslide defeat, You said.
However, Yang said that remains to be seen, as People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) is reportedly contemplating joining the race and there is speculation about a possible ticket between Ko and New Power Party Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌).
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