Hong Kong maintains its average rating in harmony stakes

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 October, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong is still the averagely harmonious city it was two years ago, even though public confidence in the government's performance has dropped since then, a survey revealed yesterday.

Simon Ho Shun-man, director of Baptist University's Centre for Corporate Governance and Financial Policy, which commissioned the study, attributed the government's decline in the ratings to growing public dissatisfaction with the work of the administration.

The survey on social harmony and happiness was conducted in July by the Hong Kong Professionals and Senior Executives Association.

It concluded that the city was a fairly contented place, with a social harmony rating of 5.6 out of 10. The same study in 2006 put the rating at a slightly lower 5.57.

But the difference between the two results was not conclusive, given the survey's sampling error of plus or minus 1.7.

The study was centred on three areas: public governance, society, and economy and work.

Of the 13 contributing factors under the heading of public governance, only the maintenance of law and order received a higher rating - 6.67 - up from 6.66 two years ago. The other areas all received lower ratings than in 2006.

The average index for public governance dropped from 5.85 to 5.68 this time.

The survey found Hongkongers' happiness index was 5.62, with a sampling error of 1.8. This category was not covered last time.

Samuel Yung Wing-ki, the association's founding president, said although the index had dropped slightly, it was still above 5, which was acceptable. But he also noted the public's dissatisfaction with the government.

'It is not surprising to see a drop given recent controversial incidents,' Mr Yung said. 'A lower index is a reflection that the government has to notice the public's concerns when implementing policies.'

Five areas saw a relatively significant drop in ratings. The biggest fall was in the maintenance of the relationship between the government and citizens, with the index dropping from 6.27 in 2006 to 5.85.

Mr Ho said the findings clearly pointed to a problem in communications.

'The public do not fully understand what the government does,' he said. 'They receive messages from the media and sometimes one-sided comments. The government should reach out to the public and meet people with different backgrounds.'

A total of 1,023 people aged 18 or older were interviewed by telephone. The study will be sent to Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and bureau heads for reference.