Leung Chun Ying

Pollster wants end to 'false claims'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 January, 2012, 12:00am


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Cultural Revolution-style criticism would do nothing for Hongkongers' sense of belonging, a pollster said yesterday, after a Beijing official claimed some surveys 'served political interests'.

Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu was responding to an article by Hao Tiechuan, director of the publicity, culture and sports department of the central government's Hong Kong liaison office, in a Chinese-language newspaper yesterday. In it, Hao suggested some Hong Kong organisations 'conduct surveys that serve the interests of certain political parties' and 'aim to influence public opinions'.

Chung, director of the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme, urged Hao to act on the 'groundless accusations' made against him after Hao's attack on a poll on national identity which Chung's programme conducted.

Still, Chung said a public discussion of academic freedom was an improvement on the closed media gathering that Hao had earlier called to raise issues about opinion polling.

Chung also noted Hao had some standing as director of a liaison office department, while the leftist commentators who had weighed into the debate had no such status.

'Cultural Revolution-style criticisms - no matter who they're aimed at - cannot help to build a sense of belonging among Hongkongers or Chinese,' Chung said.

A row between Chung and Hao erupted after Chung released a survey last month of 1,016 respondents which showed that the number of Hongkongers who identify themselves as 'Chinese citizens' was at a 12-year low.

Hao told the media in a closed-door meeting that the pollsters' questions were posed in an illogical and unscientific way.

A subsequent Baptist University survey, which phrased its questions about identity differently, found 90 per cent of the 1,005 respondents identified themselves as Chinese.

Hao took his criticism further in yesterday's article: 'Praise for some public issues is never seen as interference in academic freedom, yet critiques are always seen as such. Isn't this a kind of academic autocracy?'

Chief executive candidate Leung Chun-ying said he respected academic freedom and 'would not try to interfere with the design or results of polls'.

Speaking after he visited three families in Tsuen Wan, Leung kept up his criticism of rival Henry Tang Ying-yen for refusing to debate with him.

In response to Tang's remark that he would have a 'higher-level' debate when all his policy platforms were ready, Leung said: 'Speakers at RTHK's City Forum don't have manifestos, yet you would never see them just walking away after giving their speeches.'

Tang turned down an invitation to an environmental forum organised by 12 groups, but Leung and Democratic Party candidate Albert Ho Chun-yan accepted.

Leung also took a shot at Tang's anti-poverty work when he was chief secretary.