'Front runner' Tang trails in third place in poll for next chief executive
Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, who has long been seen as front runner for next year's chief executive election, trails in third place among five likely candidates, according to a survey commissioned by the Sunday Morning Post.
Tang was over 20 percentage points behind Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a National People's Congress Standing Committee member, and also behind Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit.
Fan had a wide margin in public support over other potential hopefuls, winning the support of 32.9 per cent of 512 respondents polled on June 21 and June 22. This compares with 13.3 per cent who supported Leong and 10.2 per cent who chose Tang. The chief secretary last month began an online campaign apparently to promote his candidacy.
Former secretary for security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee took the fourth slot with support from 9.1 per cent of respondents, followed by Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying, who was backed by 8.3 per cent.
The University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme conducted the survey for the Post to gauge views on the chief executive election scheduled for next March.
About 16 per cent said they preferred none of the five candidates, while another 9.1 per cent said 'don't know/hard to say'. Fan, Leung and Tang have been widely tipped as the main candidates for next year's chief executive poll. So far, none of them has confirmed they will run.
Dr Li Pang-kwong, director of the public governance programme at Lingnan University, believed Tang's low level of support was due to a recent gaffe. In the Post last month, Tang rejected the notion of 'property hegemony,' a catchphrase describing how property tycoons unfairly dominate Hong Kong. Instead of complaining about the wealth and power of the city's richest man, the chief secretary said, young people should ask themselves: 'Why can't I become the next Li Ka-shing?'
'Tang's remarks showed his mindset was out of touch with ordinary people and reinforced negative perceptions of him,' Li said.
Sixty per cent of the respondents said narrowing the wealth gap should be the chief executive's top priority.
Ip, also a lawmaker and chairwoman of the New People's Party, has dropped hints on several occasions that she may contest the top job in the vote in March, while Leong, who challenged Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in the 2007 chief executive election, is seen as a likely candidate within the pan-democratic camp.
Programme director Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu said Fan got the most support. 'But even then we are talking about one in three support [for Fan], so the race, if it has even started, is far from over.'
The survey had a 67.5 per cent response rate and a sampling error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, with a 95 per cent confidence level.
Fan, who is out of town, could not be reached for comment.
Tang's press secretary said Tang would do his best to discharge his duties as chief secretary.
Leong said both Tang and Leung were taking the blame for the city's maladministration. 'The support for me is very much a manifestation of the people's discontent with the present administration [...] and our hope for change.'
The number of years Henry Tang has been in government. Before he joined in 2002 he was a 'leading industrialist', according to gov.hk