Donald Tsang

Mature marchers show little malice

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 July, 2006, 12:00am

People who marched in Hong Kong yesterday did so in support of democracy, equality and justice rather than out of dissatisfaction with their political leaders, a University of Hong Kong poll has found.

Demonstrators were also noticeably less dissatisfied with both the Hong Kong and central government than on any other July 1 march since they began in 2003 in protest against proposed national security legislation.

Polls found Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen received an average approval rating of 46.3 per cent, more than triple the 13.8 per cent of his predecessor, Tung Chee-hwa, three years ago.

The HKU Public Opinion Programme survey, which polled 629 people above the age of 15 during yesterday's march, found that just over 96 per cent of respondents gave greater democracy as a 'very important' or 'important' reason for attending the march.

Exactly 95 per cent of those polled said that they joined the march to fight for justice and equality. On the other hand, only 73 per cent said they joined the march because they were dissatisfied with the Hong Kong government and 66 per cent because they were unhappy with the central government.

Participants gave the Hong Kong government an approval rating of 46.8 per cent, and the central government 44.3 per cent. Both were higher than the respective 32.8 per cent and 43.6 per cent recorded two years ago - when the questions were first asked.

Eighty-eight per cent agreed with the march slogan, 'For a just and equal Hong Kong, hope for democracy and direct elections'. The proportion of people who did not agree with the slogan was statistically negligible, the poll concluded.

Robert Chung Ting-yiu, the head of HKU public opinion programme, said: 'I can only guess that this year's organisers chose this theme because it appeals to a wider audience. If they were to focus on only one, narrow theme, like universal suffrage in 2007 and 2008, some people might not be that interested, especially when the National People's Congress has already ruled out this possibility.'

The chief executive's higher rating than his predecessor's showed, 'people's grumbles over the government are much less than before. For those who took to the street, demands for what is to come might well have become a stronger driving force than complaints on what has been done,' he said.

This year, Premier Wen Jiabao received an approval rating of 56.1 per cent. He got 62 per cent in 2003. The survey also found 79 per cent of respondents attended the 2003 July 1 march, 78 per cent the 2004 march, and 70 per cent to last year's, suggesting attendance was a habit for most.

Dr Chung added that around one quarter of marchers felt encouraged by former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang's participation and public appeal, but a stronger driving force was likely to have come from the momentum of previous years.

The margin of error for the poll was four percentage points and the response rate was 85.1 per-cent.

Approval ratings

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen 46.3%

Chinese Premier

Wen Jiabao 56.1%

HKSAR government 46.8%

Central government 44.3%

Source: University of Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme