Taiwan’s Ma sees record low approval ratings after expelling speaker
- POSTED: 12 Sep 2013 20:05
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Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou saw his approval ratings drop to a new record low of 11 per cent after expelling legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng from the Kuomintang (KMT) party.
TAIPEI: Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's approval ratings dropped to a new record low of 11 per cent after expelling legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng from the Kuomintang (KMT) party.
Factions within the party openly disapproved of Ma's action, leading to speculation the KMT could be heading for a break-up.
Ma set off a political time-bomb by booting Wang out of the ruling KMT for alleged influence peddling.
As Taiwan's longest serving speaker, the 72-year-old held great sway in parliament, having formed close ties with lawmakers across party lines.
Now that he's gone, parliament could become more divided than ever before.
KMT lawmaker Tsai Cheng-yuan said: "Most disputes (between the KMT and the DPP) are usually over issues that are politically fraught, such as China-related bills. It's mainly due to political wrangling. If such cases increase in number, the role of the legislative speaker will become crucial. Without a legislative speaker that knows how to negotiate and make deals, there will be endless fighting."
Tsai regretted the infighting and said the party is the biggest loser in the battle between Ma and Wang.
He explained: "Mr Wang is clearly a loser in the battle because he has lost the legislative speaker post. But President Ma is an even bigger loser. As the president, he may seem to be gaining greater power on all fronts. But just like one business leader says, Mr Ma may own more stakes in KMT Inc., but the size of the company is quickly shrinking."
Many Taiwanese sympathised with Wang as he was seen to be a conciliatory figure with no enemies.
Ma, on the other hand, saw his approval ratings hit rock bottom.
It is now at a new record low of 11 per cent, not too far off from the 10 per cent former president Chen Shui-bian received during his corruption scandal.
Still, observers said the president did what he had to do.
National Taiwan University’s Professor Chang Ya-chung said: "On the one hand, President Ma is upholding his high moral standards. On the other hand, he will now have a better control of what goes on in the parliament, making sure the KMT lawmakers back (their) policies. Only by doing so, President Ma can do what's good for Taiwan and also boost the KMT's chances of winning the elections in 2014 and 2016. At least that's what he thinks."
Some party members have openly expressed discontent over Ma's action, including former KMT chairman Lien Chan and his son, Sean Lien.
However, Wang is clearly not going down without a fight as he is still looking for ways to retain his political influence.
It is unclear who will emerge as the winner, but if the internal clash continued to divide the KMT, observers warned the parliament could be paralysed for the next six months, making people on the island the biggest losers.