Level of freedom on the rise, survey finds

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 12:00am

The power exhibited by the public in halting controversial projects and the sudden departure of several outspoken radio hosts have led to a sharp rise in the public's assessment of freedom of speech, press and publication.

Most indicators adopted by the University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Programme in testing the city's freedoms have risen to a 'near-record high since the handover', pollster Robert Chung Tung-yiu said.

Since the previous survey in mid-October, freedom of speech was seen to have improved by 0.55 marks out of 10 - from 6.88 marks to 7.43.

In a survey of 1,022 people conducted between January 3 and January 6, freedom of press rose 0.47 marks to 7.39, while freedom of publication rose 0.36 marks to 7.49.

Respondents' assessment of Hong Kong's 'freedom of procession and demonstration' rose 0.27 marks to 7.61.

The freedoms of 'religious belief', 'entering or leaving Hong Kong' and 'academic research' scored the highest ratings among the 10 indicators.

Dr Chung said reversal of the decision to tear down the Hunghom Peninsula estate, and the derailing of the Link Reit listing plan by a lawsuit filed by a public housing tenant, had a positive effect in boosting people's confidence in themselves.

'I think the recent rebound [in freedom of speech, the press and publication] was as much a result of the fading of the effect from the departure of some outspoken radio talk show hosts, as the result of a recent boost in people power,' he said.

The sudden departure of popular Hong Kong radio hosts including Albert Cheng King-hon and Allen Lee Peng-fei in the middle of last year had led to fears that Hong Kong's freedom of expression was under threat.