Taiwan president's popularity plummets

TAIPEI - Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's popularity has plunged to its lowest level in nearly three years, just 10 days before he is due to begin a second term in office, a poll showed Thursday.

Amid increasing public anger over a string of controversial policies, Ma's approval rating fell to 19.5 per cent in the poll of 1,086 people conducted by Wealth Magazine.

The figure is the lowest since August 2009, when a poll gave him a 16 per cent rating after a typhoon killed more than 500 people.

In the latest survey, about half of those questioned said they were angry at government decisions to hike electricity and petrol prices.

Sixty-two per cent said they had no faith that Ma would perform better during his second and final four-year term, due to start on May 20.

Ma, who was elected president in March 2008, saw his popularity rise to an all-time high of 79 per cent in the days after his victory at the polls.

He won a comfortable re-election in January but his government has since come under fire over a string of controversial decisions, while the economy slows and inflationary pressure rises.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Taipei on May Day to voice their anger at the government, while the opposition party has vowed to stage a mass rally on the eve of Ma's inauguration.

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