Wednesday, 6 April 2016

How Bad A Mayor Is Ko Wen-je (柯文哲)?

Now I don't live in Taipei and the last time I visited the capital was seven or eight years ago, so it's difficult for me to gauge whether mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) policies are as bad as they are being made out to be in the media, as for example here.

Apparently his approval rating is now the worst of all the mayors of the six special municipalities. Yet it strikes me that there are at least two explanations for this.

The first is the ostensible one given in the media; that people are annoyed at his policies and the way he goes about implementing them.

The second explanation is that his "unpopularity" is a function of media bias; that his policies are annoying the people who work in the media and they then misrepresent this as wider popular disapproval.

I hold this suspicion - and it is no more than that - because the Tainan mayor William Lai is cited as having the highest approval ratings of all six special municipality mayors. Yet I live in Tainan city and whilst I find it easy to list problems that the municipal government has failed to solve or hasn't solved satisfactorily, I struggle to list those things for which the municipal government and the mayor in particular can be praised.

As an example, I have just endured the bureaucratic nightmare of trying to get one agency or another from within the various tiers of local government to finally remove the rotting piles of garbage in the public park near my house after they had sat there for well over a month.

You would think that this would have been something the media would be keen to cover given the severe outbreak of dengue fever in Tainan last year. Yet the media did nothing (and not because they didn't know about it).

So it may be that Lai's high approval ratings are partly a function of media bias, and if that is true, then it may also be the case that Ko's low approval ratings are also a function of media bias.

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