Tsang's support hits record low

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2008, 12:00am

Public support for Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has fallen again. For the first time, fewer than half of those polled approved of how he is performing, a survey by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme has found.

His popularity rating, measured on a scale of 100, also dropped to his July 2003 level of around 56, when he was chief secretary and grievances against the government peaked.

The findings were released a day after Vice-President Xi Jinping called on Mr Tsang and his team to govern Hong Kong 'sensibly and reasonably', and to implement 'stable and efficient' policies.

'The continued drop of Donald Tsang's popularity shows that the rescue efforts he made in late June to early July have not been effective,' pollster Robert Chung Ting-yiu wrote in the survey report.

Mr Xi concluded his three-day visit by urging Hongkongers to unite and co-operate with the government.

'I sincerely hope people from all sectors of Hong Kong can unite and work closely with the special administrative region government, so that the SAR will be constructed even better, citizens' lives will become even better and the motherland's pearl in the orient will shine more brightly,' Mr Xi said, before leaving.

Reviewing the vice-president's visit immediately after his departure, Peng Qinghua , deputy director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, said: 'He has affirmed Hong Kong's important role in the country's development and expressed the central government's high regard for Hong Kong and its concern for Hong Kong citizens.'

In the HKU telephone survey, conducted after the July 1 march, 45.8 per cent of 1,019 respondents said they would vote for Mr Tsang if a general election was to be held and they had the right to vote. This was a drop of 5.5 percentage points from the previous poll, in mid-June, and 17.3 points down from late May.

It was also the first time that the people's vote of confidence in Mr Tsang fell below 50 per cent. The figure peaked at 79.2 per cent in September 2005. His popularity rating, on a 100-point scale, plunged to 55.9 - the lowest since he became chief executive, and down two points from the June survey.

Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat-ngok also saw their popularity hitting new lows, but that of Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Frederick Ma Si-hang, who has resigned, surged 18.1 points to a record high of 54.6 per cent.