Support for Ma dropped to 29 percent, from 66 percent when he took office in May last year and 52 percent at his first anniversary, according to a survey conducted by the United Daily News published today. About 46 percent of people surveyed said they didn’t have confidence in his administration’s relief and rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the storm.Note that Bloomberg draws its data from UDN, the pro-KMT paper (without mentioning that it is the former KMT party paper and is rabidly pro-KMT). When UDN says a KMT administration is not popular -- it ain't popular.
Premier Liu Chao-shiuan’s approval rating also fell to a record low of 20 percent according to the survey, the Taipei- based, Chinese-language newspaper said. The newspaper said it interviewed 919 adults on Aug. 18 for the poll, which has a margin of error of 3.29 percentage points.
UPI talks about why:
Big news yesterday is the sacrifice of Andrew Hsia, the Deputy Foreign Minister, who had to step down over the "misunderstanding" involving the telegram that informed everyone that Taiwan was rejecting foreign aid (also out this morning are the Defense Chief and the Sec-General of the Cabinet).
President Ma Ying-jeou and his key Cabinet members also infuriated the public with their responses to the disaster. Ma has been heavily criticized for failing to fulfill his role as commander-in-chief of Taiwan’s armed forces. Without instructions from Ma, the army sent only 740 soldiers on rescue missions to the stricken areas on the first day, Aug. 8. [MT: note that Defense Minister resigned to take fall.]
Ma was attending a friend’s wedding on Aug. 7 while Morakot was approaching. He waited until Monday – three days after the typhoon hit – to call a special national security meeting to mobilize troops and organize rescue and relief efforts in the badly stricken southern counties of Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Taitung and Chiayi.
The surface story is simple: Foreign Minister Francisco Ou was out of the country, and so Hsia, who refuses to confirm he saw the memo before it went out, was in charge. Hence he must take the fall. The story circulating among knowledgeable individuals, however, is that the decision to refuse aid was made at the highest levels, either by Ma himself or by NSC chief Su Chi, one of the most powerful individuals in the government and Hsia is just a fall guy for what ultimately proved to be one of the Administration's dumbest decisions.
What motivated that decision? Also circulating is an unsigned letter dated August 10, Monday after the storm, from the Taiwan Affairs Office of China, offering aid. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the aid from other countries was put off while the government decided what to do about Beijing. However, the letter could well be an anti-Ma fraud.
The Ma press conference (Youtube) also took place yesterday. Good questions from our foreign press corps. I think it is wonderful that this typhoon has finally permitted reporters to report on criticism of Ma, something that was sorely lacking during the campaign -- when powerful financial interests overseas were strongly backing a Ma victory.
There's a back story here too. A couple of days before the press conference the GIO informed the foreign correspondents that they would have to submit their questions in writing in advance. Probably a good idea, considering that Ma unscripted has been a disaster for the KMT. But the foreign correspondents responded, essentially, that it wasn't their job to help the Ma Administration perform damage control. The GIO then hastened to retract this position which -- as my readers will now be predicting -- was just a "misunderstanding." The foreign reporters then asked the hard questions -- more power to them.
Such practices are apparently the norm with local media, which is one reason Ma gets such fawning coverage. Readers can imagine what happens to reporters who ask unscripted questions.
- Volunteers at work in the south: photos from Josh Davis.
- Protests against the effluent discharge plan from the Central Taiwan Science Park
- J Michael shows that Chinese thinkers just don't get it.
- How Microsoft makes Taiwan disappear.
- ICRT poll still running at 97% in favor of Ma stepping down. Vote here.
- Irrigation/Food issues in Asia becoming critical by 2050.
- In case you don't know, the International Service Portal for foreigners here.
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