The polling scandal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 February, 2012, 12:00am



A row began after the election team of Henry Tang Ying-yen, a candidate to be Hong Kong's next chief executive, were given early results of a Baptist University election poll. They had been tipped off by the media. Professor Zhao Xinshu, head of the university's survey lab, passed on data of a poll of 836 people who seemed to favour Tang: he had narrowed the gap on rival Leung Chung-ying to 6.5per cent. Zhao has quit, but questions remain.


Who are involved? Tang, who says he doesn't care which media organisation tipped off his campaign office; Zhao, who quit his post at the survey lab and as dean of the school of communication on Monday; Lucy Chan Wai-yee, Tang's research assistant, who called the campaign communications adviser because she had received an inquiry from the media. Professor Albert Chan Sun-chi, the university's president, who ordered a review by a university panel.


When did Tang's campaigners contact the university? Lucy Chan, one of Tang's team, telephoned a university research assistant about the opinion poll on January 13 between 7pm and 8pm - before it was officially released to the public online. The Sing Tao Daily reported exclusively on the early results the next day.


Where were the results published? The university's survey lab published the early results at 9pm on January 13. After Sing Tao Daily reported on these results the next day, the survey lab later published the full results based on 1,005 responses, showing Leung enjoyed a more significant lead of 8.9 per cent.


Why is this such a scandal? Zhao, who is considered a Beijing loyalist, took responsibility and resigned from his job as head of the lab. But he will still be paid HK$120,000 a month to teach only one subject and supervise three research students. The university panel's report said Zhao had shown 'misjudgment', but did not explain why the survey was leaked to Tang's team, or why the pro-Tang Sing Tao Daily was able to report on it. Students plan further action - possibly a sit-in - to urge Chan to continue to investigate and oust Zhao from the university.