Ko’s approval rating falls below 70% for first time

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said Saturday he would “restrain himself” if his approval rating fell below 65 percent. Figures from the city’s Research, Development and Evaluation Commission (RDEC, 研考會) released on Friday showed Ko’s approval rating at its lowest since he assumed office in December 2014, at 69.3 percent; 19.8 percent were not satisfied with the mayor. Responding to the numbers, Ko said that the drop in popularity was “foreseen.” The mayor enjoyed approval ratings of 75.8, 80.1 and 72.6 percent in January, March and April 2015, respectively. His latest showing represented a 6 percent fall from previous figures released by the RDEC last August. The mayor added that when his approval ratings were higher than 65 percent, his strategy was to “do the right thing” and that if they fell below that number it would shift toward “doing things right.” On average, the municipal department heads of Ko’s administration averaged 50 percent approval ratings. Ko biked through the city yesterday, stopping at campaign headquarters for eight city councilors running for legislator. Terming his bike tour part of “non-traditional campaigning,” the mayor voiced his support for a reform coalition of politicians in the city to supersede traditional pan-blue, pan-green cleavages. Recently, he has visited candidates of several political parties, except those who are affiliated with the Kuomintang (KMT). He said he would go ahead with an inspection tour with KMT Councilor Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) on Monday, saying that the activity was not political campaigning.

Ko said he hopes a “diverse rainbow” can replace the polar blue, green divide.” He blamed partisan infighting for Taiwan falling behind South Korea in terms of GDP per capita. Ko indicated that 20 years ago, Taiwan led South Korea US$5,000 to US$3,000 per capita, but ideology had created stop-go economic growth. The mayor vowed to make the capital a “neutral zone” in terms of his support for political candidates and campaigns. Last year, he promised the city council that he and his administrative team would not stump for any political candidates during office hours. He is planning a two-day bike trip from the capital to Kaohsiung City on Jan. 9. His ultimate goal is a north-south lighthouse-to-lighthouse trek from Keelung to Kenting, covering 520 kilometers.