Public support for Tang plunges as scandal hits

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 February, 2012, 12:00am


Popular support for scandal-hit chief executive hopeful Henry Tang Ying-yen plunged 5 percentage points this week to 21.3 per cent of respondents in the latest survey co-commissioned by the South China Morning Post.

'In terms of Tang's popularity, I think the worst is yet to come,' said Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, director of the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme, which conducted the poll. Chung said because of the timing, the survey, conducted from Monday to Thursday, did not fully reflect the impact of the scandal on public support for the former chief secretary.

Dr Ray Yep Kin-man, a political scientist at City University, expected Tang's popularity to plunge by up to 10 percentage points next week.

Tang confirmed the existence of illegal structures at his wife's home at a press conference starting at 8.25pm on Thursday, which was the final evening of interviews conducted by the pollsters. Respondents were polled from 6.30pm to 10.30pm.

In the previous survey, last week, Tang had the support of 26.1 per cent of respondents. The latest poll found he was backed by 21.3 per cent of the 1,007 respondents polled by HKU, compared with 49 per cent who favoured Leung Chun-ying. Another 10 per cent opted for pan-democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan, while nearly 20 per cent stated no preference. It was the fourth of five weekly polls the Post has co-commissioned.

Leung, the former Executive Council convenor, widened his lead over Tang from 23 percentage points in last week's survey to 27.7 percentage points in the latest poll.

'I'm very sure that Tang's recent response to his recent scandal is a major factor contributing to the drop in his popularity,' Chung said.

On Thursday night Tang apologised for the controversy surrounding the illegal structures at the property, which he said were his wife's idea, but vowed to continue his campaign for the city's top job.

Leung held firm in his popularity rating despite a row that began earlier over his alleged failure to declare a potential conflict of interest a decade ago. Ten days ago the government released a press release saying Leung had business connections with a contestant in a design competition in 2001 for the West Kowloon arts hub, in which he was a juror.

The latest survey had a response rate of 64.8 per cent, a sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points and a confidence level of 95 per cent.