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Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen’s popularity hit by #MeToo and egg scandals


Tsai’s job approval rating dropped 10.4 percentage points to 38.4 per cent in September, from 48.8 per cent last month, according to the latest survey results, released on Monday by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation.

It was her worst polling since she stepped down as head of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party in late November, taking the blame for the DPP’s serious setback in the 2022 local government elections.

The Taipei-based independent polling agency, which is known for its impartial stance, found disapproval of Tsai rose to 48.2 per cent, from 42.3 per cent in August – the same level as in June, when her party became caught up in a wave of #MeToo allegations.

Several senior party and government executives were accused of either failing to respond to sexual harassment accusations or were themselves implicated in allegations of misconduct.

Agency head Michael You Ying-lung said the latest results – which put Tsai’s disapproval rating 9.8 percentage points higher than support for her – meant Tsai is once again embroiled in a predicament over her administration.

Support for Taiwan’s Tsai at 4-year low as #MeToo scandals rock ruling party

“That is to say there is a bigger public dissatisfaction over her performance,” You said, pointing out that one percentage point is equal to 195,000 voters on the island.

The 10.4-point drop and 5.9-point rise in Tsai’s approval and disapproval ratings represent a loss of some 2 million voters who used to support her administration and an increase of 1.15 million voters who are unhappy with the Taiwanese leader, he said.

You attributed the sagging public support to the Tsai administration’s failure to handle the recent egg import controversy that had led to the resignation of the island’s agriculture minister.

“More than half of the people here polled were dissatisfied with the performance of the agriculture minister Chen Chung-chi in handling the imported egg issue, resulting in the backfire to the government,” he said.

The Taiwanese premier Chen Chien-jen apologised on Friday over the controversies surrounding the importation of 140 million eggs from March to July in response to an egg shortage caused by bird flu in Taiwan.

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The Tsai government came under fire from not only from Taiwanese opposition parties but also some DPP lawmakers for blunders like mislabelling the imported eggs with the wrong expiration dates or country of origin, and the disposal of 54 million eggs that had expired consumption dates.

Tseng Ming-tsung, a former deputy finance minister and now a legislator with the main opposition Kuomintang party, said the egg shortage was originally a simple supply issue but ended up as a food safety problem, with added allegations that authorities had favoured certain importers.

The former agriculture minister has denied the allegations but resigned on September 19 under mounting pressure from the opposition and strong criticism from the public.

According to the latest survey, 56.7 per cent of Taiwanese voters aged 20 to 64 found Chen Chung-chi’s performance disappointing. Even 35 per cent of DPP supporters called the ex-minister’s handling “unacceptable”.

“Being the number one party member of the ruling party, the popularity of [Tsai] and the support for her all affect the DPP,” You said.

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The spillover from the egg blunders would not only negatively influence the DPP’s performance in the legislative elections, but “very possibly seriously impact [vice-president] William Lai Ching-te in his run-up to the presidency” in January, he said.

In separate survey results released by the foundation on Sunday, voters’ support for the DPP in September dropped 6.5 percentage points to 30.3 per cent from August, while support for the KMT rose 6 points to 23.1 per cent.

Lai, the presidential front-runner, is leading all his opponents, including Taiwan People’s Party Chairman Ko Wen-je, New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih of the KMT, and Foxconn billionaire founder Terry Gou who is seeking to run as an independent.

The foundation has yet to produce its latest findings on voters’ support for the four presidential hopefuls on the island, but a Friday survey by My Formosa.com showed support for Lai down to 37.3 per cent from 40-plus per cent in previous months, also because of the imported egg controversy.

Wu Tzu-chia, head of the My Formosa online magazine, said the DPP administration must be cautious in handling the island’s affairs to avoid problems like the #MeToo allegations and the egg controversy continuing to impact Lai’s presidential campaign.



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