Taiwan president promises more reform on eve of anniversary

Tsai has support from more than 57 percent of public: DPP poll

President Tsai Ing-wen. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) promised more reform ahead in comments on the eve of the anniversary of her inauguration as Taiwan’s first-ever woman president.

She was sworn in on May 20, 2016 after a landslide victory in the January presidential and legislative elections, though her support has been slipping in recent opinion polls amid obstruction by the opposition to her reform agenda.

During a meeting with overseas Chinese-language media at the Presidential Office Friday, Tsai emphasized that her democratic agenda was more important than any temporary drop in support from opinion surveys.

“I am not a political strongman who decides everything by himself, I am a leader under a democratic political (system) with a strong will to reform,” she said, adding that the reforms she was implementing at present were changes her predecessors had also wanted to make but were unable to.

“A responsible politician will solve problems without fearing his reputation being destroyed” as Taiwan’s current problems were so grave, she was left with no choice but to reform, Tsai said. “The reform steps will not stop, this is my order to all political groups,” according to the president.

Tsai compared the current spate of dissatisfaction with her government to the traffic congestion at the height of subway construction, a temporary period which is soon replaced by satisfaction about the end result. “As long as it benefits reform, we are not afraid of offending people,” she said.

Turning to opinion surveys, Tsai emphasized she was doing things for Taiwan, not for the polls. According to the latest poll released by her Democratic Progressive Party (民進黨) Friday, 42.2 percent of respondents were satisfied with her but 54.2 percent were not. On the other hand, the same poll found that 57.4 percent supported Tsai and 37.4 percent did not. The apparent discrepancy stemmed from the fact that those dissatisfied with the president’s performance included both people who thought she was going too far and those who criticized her for working too slowly, DPP officials said.

Addressing the different reform packages of the Tsai Administration, 92.3 percent said protecting labor rights was the most important reform. A total of 82.7 percent said the government should also push for judicial reform, more than 70 percent named the reform of unfair pensions, and more than 60 percent mentioned transitional justice and the tracking of ill-gotten party assets.

The DPP said its survey received 1,153 valid answers between May 16 and 18, with a  margin of error of 2.9 percent.