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Hong Kong’s vigorous opinion polls

/ 05:05 AM October 05, 2019

The strong antigovernment protests on the streets of Hong Kong currently seen on television are the genuine feelings of the people, as validated by the city’s most prestigious opinion polling center.

In six polls by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI), the net approval rate of Chief Executive Carrie Lam fell from -40 in early July to -57 in mid-September. Her gross approval slid from 26 to 18 percent; her gross disapproval rose from 66 to 74 percent. HKPORI calls disapproval rates of 66 and up “disastrous.”

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The net satisfaction with the performance of the Hong Kong government collapsed from -19 in July to -63 in September. The gross satisfaction dropped from 30 to 12 percent in that period. At the same time, gross dissatisfaction rose from 48 to 76 percent. To HKPORI, dissatisfaction rates of over 50 percent are “depressing.”

HKPORI is a new private limited company, founded by its president/CEO Robert Chung, that directly continues the work of the University of Hong Kong’s 28-year-old Public Opinion Program (POP), which has been dissolved.  HKPORI brands itself as a “civic society conscientious enterprise” that aspires to become Hong Kong’s parallel of the best opinion research institutes of the world.

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Dr. Chung, who had directed the POP, has retired from the university. He is famous for his fierce independence in the face of China-instigated attempts to shut down his polls, particularly those dealing with the government’s credibility. It has been my privilege and honor to have worked with him (see “HK people to China: Heed public opinion,” Opinion, 12/1/18).

“I never expect to receive support from the pro-Beijing or pro-establishment camp,” he said last April, upon announcing the establishment of HKPORI (https:// www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3007299/controversial-hong-kong-pollster-go-it-alone-after-ending). By the end of June, HKPORI had crowdsourced donations of HKD 5.5 million+, enough to operate up to mid-2020.

Results of HKPORI’s “extradition bill survey” (7/24-26/19; 1,007 respondents, by telephone): (a) Almost 70 percent oppose the extradition bill. (b) The chief executive, the police and the central government are the most important factors contributing to the governance crisis. (c) 60 percent are dissatisfied with the performance of the police in handling the incidents. (d) All the major demands in the antiextradition bill protests are popular, topped by setting up an independent commission of inquiry and complete withdrawal of the bill. (e) Youth dissatisfaction mainly stems from their distrust of the system, as well as their pursuit of democracy and freedom.

WAPOR-Asia. Robert Chung is the first president of the Asia chapter of the World Association for Public Opinion Research (wapor.org), which aims “to promote in each country or region in Asia the right to conduct and publish scientific research on what the people and its groups think.”

WAPOR-Asia held its inaugural conference in Taipei in May 2018. The second conference, last week in New Delhi, had presentations of Social Weather Stations surveys on crime and public safety, Duterte’s stance on the West Philippine Sea, the effects of internet and social media use on authoritarian/democratic values, and the effects of internet use on political participation; these will be posted on the SWS website. The next WAPOR-Asia conferences will be in September 2020 in Kuala Lumpur, and in September 2021 in Manila (cohosted by SWS).

Anyone doing opinion research in Asia or about Asia may join the Asia chapter, which now has representatives from India, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the United States. But, notably, not from China.

Contact [email protected]

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