Tsai greets 6th year in office with disastrous COVID fiasco, sinking approval rate
Published: May 21, 2022 12:05 AM
Tsai Ing-wen Photo:AFP

Tsai Ing-wen Photo:AFP

The regional leader of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen marked her 6th year in office on Friday amid a COVID fiasco and sinking approval rate, which observers viewed as a full exposure of the secessionist's incompetence and neglect of people's livelihoods.  

Taiwan's epidemic prevention and control authority on Friday recorded 85,761 new COVID-19 infections and 49 deaths. The island reported 90,331 locally transmitted cases on Thursday, bringing total cases to over 1 million in 2022. 

According to the poll released by Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation (TPOF) on Thursday, Tsai's approval rate has dropped for two consecutive months, by a total of 5.6 percentage points. In addition, more than 49 percent of Taiwan residents do not believe that Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are ready for the epidemic, while 35.3 percent believe that health authority leader Chen Shih-chung has failed to lead the battle against the epidemic.

People's confidence in Tsai's anti-COVID performance is on the verge of collapse, Michael You, the CEO of TPOF and a former DPP member, said on Thursday. 

The opposition party on the island, the Kuomintang (KMT), has also criticized the DPP's performance in recent days, citing rising prices, poor counter-epidemic preparations, backward energy policies, poor air quality and deteriorating cross-Strait relations.

After Taiwan's epidemic prevention and control authorities said 30 percent of hospitals in New Taipei city still have empty beds, Hou Yu-ih, mayor of New Taipei City, the second worst COVID-hit city on the island, said on Thursday that it will be hard to deal with the large number of new cases.

It seems that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also marked Tsai's paper with a failing grade. The US CDC raised Taiwan's COVID-19 travel alert to the high-risk Level 3 category, reports said Tuesday. According to the US CDC, travelers should avoid visiting Level 3 regions if they are not up to date with their COVID vaccinations. 

But the DPP seems to be indulging in self-glorying. On Thursday, the head of Taiwan's executive body Su Tseng-chang bragged about great achievements and how the anti-COVID-19 measures have been the world's best in the past two years. Besides, the "per capita GDP" of the region exceeded $30,000 for the first time in 2021. 

Zhang Wensheng, deputy dean of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Friday that instead of competence and responsibility, Tsai has been relying more on luck.

For an island, it is relatively easy to control the movement of people and local residents are self-conscious about personal protection. But as most of the world lifted strict measures, Taiwan's defenses fell down, Zhang said. 

Media reports in Taiwan said the island is facing a shortage of vaccines, medical staff and even screening kits. "It has been more than two years since the outbreak, and the Taiwan authorities have not been fully prepared. This only shows their incompetence. Instead of focusing on the health of local people, they focus on ideology and secession," Zhang said. 

Along with the US, Taiwan authorities recently hyped the chance to "regain observer status" at the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the WHO. Despite failing to obtain an invitation, the island also dispatched a delegation to Geneva for "public health exchanges," local media said.  

The DPP administration's inability to participate in the WHA is entirely due to its stubborn stance on "Taiwan independence," said Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.   

"No one cares more about Taiwan compatriots' health and well-being than we [the Chinese mainland] do. We have made proper arrangements for Taiwan's participation in global health affairs under the one-China principle," Zhu said.