Democracy wins backing in surveys

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 February, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 February, 1993, 12:00am

THE Governor, Mr Chris Patten, has the backing of the social welfare, engineering and health care constituencies in his plan to broaden democracy in the territory, according to recent surveys.

The studies were conducted between October and January during which China repeatedly threatened to start afresh after 1997 if Mr Patten's political reform package was pushed through.

They showed that members of the constituencies were in support of the Governor's political blueprint, including the controversial proposals for the Election Committee and the nine new functional constituencies.

Four other functional constituency representatives had earlier released the result of opinion polls among their constituents.

They were Mr Cheung Man-kwong of the teaching profession, Dr Leong Che-hung, of the medical profession, Mr Howard Young, of the tourism sector, and Mr Edward Ho Sing-tin, of the architectural, surveying and planning constituency.

The polls showed the former two professions supported the Governor's package.

Mr Ho's constituency was equally divided on the proposals for the new functional constituencies and the Election Committee and Mr Young's constituency was against the package.

Banking representative Mr David Li Kwok-po has his survey result ready, but it has not yet been released.

Accountant representative Mr Peter Wong Hong-yuen is expected to make public the findings of his opinion poll next week.

According to the survey of the social welfare sector, 75 per cent supported or generally supported the proposed 1994-95 electoral arrangements.

Conducted by the sector's representative in the legislature, Mr Hui Yin-fat, between December 7 and January 31, the survey was extended to non-voters in the constituency instead of the eligible corporate voters alone.

Of the 2,400 questionnaires sent out, 440 - 18 per cent - were returned.

In view of the strong opposition from China, a third of the respondents felt that the electoral bills should be tabled to the legislature for a decision while a quarter said the issue should be settled through a referendum.

A quarter said China should be talked into accepting the package and 10 per cent said London should make concessions first.

About 60 per cent of the respondents gave the thumbs-up to the controversial proposals for the Election Committee and the new functional constituencies.

The fact that 40 per cent showed their disapproval or reservations indicated the need for further discussion and study in these two areas, Mr Hui said.

A big majority felt that legislators should take the initiative in drawing up compromise proposals.

In a separate survey among the engineering constituents, more than half of the 783 respondents threw their weight behind the Governor in his political reform proposals.

The survey, which had a response rate of seven per cent, was carried out by the Hongkong Institution of Engineers among its 11,000 members.

More than half of the respondents agreed to the proposals for the nine new functional constituencies and Election Committee.

The survey conducted by the health care representative, Mr Michael Ho Mun-ka, found the ratio of for and against the Governor's package was three to one.