Tsang's bragging in Beijing falls flat at home
Klaudia Lee in Beijing and Robin Kwong
Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday boasted in Beijing that Hong Kong's economic situation is 'the best in almost 20 years', as his popularity and that of his government plummeted to a new low at home.
'Our market condition is prosperous and robust. I think it is the best situation in almost 20 years,' he said in a meeting with Shao Qiwei chairman of the National Tourism Administration. He said Hong Kong had undergone difficult times, such as the Asian financial crisis and Sars, which had affected various aspects of the city's development.
'Our recent development is encouraging but we won't be complacent, we will always have a sense of danger,' he said.
Mr Shao said the number of mainland tourists visiting the city had risen 7 per cent. 'In November, the figure had exceeded 13 million, among them 5.5 million individual travellers,' he said.
But the chief executive's remarks seemed to find little resonance in Hong Kong. A poll by the University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Programme found the percentage of people giving Mr Tsang a vote of confidence dropped to its lowest since he took office, from 63 per cent in early December to 56 per cent between December 18 and 20.
Correspondingly, those who had no confidence in him rose from 17 to 21 per cent. Mr Tsang's latest rating was 59.4 out of 100, compared with 62 earlier this month, and public satisfaction with the government dropped from 40 per cent last month to 34 per cent.
The drops were the latest in a half-year decline, although pollster Robert Chung Ting-yiu said recent pressure stemmed from a variety of sources.
Mr Tsang's handling of crises including the demolition of the Star Ferry pier and the influx of pregnant mainlanders were part of the reason. His low-key response to the campaign mounted by Civic Party challenger Alan Leong Kah-kit was also related, several political analysts said.