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Hongkongers who find news online more likely to support Occupy protests: survey

Study also finds almost half of residents do not trust the government, regardless of where they get their news

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 November, 2014, 4:24pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 November, 2014, 2:36pm

Hong Kong residents who primarily find their news online and regularly comment on the internet are far more likely to support the city’s ongoing pro-democracy protests, a new survey has found.

Nearly 75 per cent of respondents who regularly comment online support the campaign, known as the “umbrella movement”, while more than half of those who primarily read their news online are supporters.

The protests, now in their ninth week, were organised by Occupy Central and student groups and have been led by students.

Of more than a thousand people surveyed by the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme, 55 per cent said that they often read news online. That proportion grew to 95 per cent among respondents aged between 18 and 29.

The survey was commissioned by the Institute of Education. Isabella Ng Fung-sheung of the institute thinks there is a direct link between online activities and political activism.

“For instance, some of the Occupy protesters are organised by Hong Kong Golden, an online forum,” Ng said.

Almost half of all respondents, irrespective of where they get their news from, said they do not have faith in the Hong Kong government. Just under 26 per cent said they trust the government.

Overall, nearly 48 per cent of respondents said they are against the umbrella movement, while just over 36 per cent are supporters.

Television and radio remain the major news sources, with more than three in four respondents saying they regularly watch or listen to TV or radio news.

Ng said it would be “detrimental” for such TV and radio news to be censored. “We have to make sure we still have freedom of speech given most people still get news from TV and radio,” Ng said.

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A survey by the Journalist Association last year found that public trust in some traditional news sources was on the wane.

The institute’s survey, released on Wednesday, also found that Hongkongers are unlikely to let politics come between them. Nearly 65 per cent of respondents said they would not be alienated from friends with different political views.

“Hong Kong people are still rational and tolerant of different opinions,” says Dr Alex Chan Lih-shing of the institute, who led the survey.

The survey was conducted between October 23 and November 6.