Support for Tang falls to record-low 18.5 per cent
Peter So and Ada Lee
Popular support for embattled chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen has hit a record low of 18.5 per cent in a three-horse race with 72.2 per cent of respondents opposed to him taking the city's top job, the latest survey co-commissioned by the South China Morning Post has found.
The opposition to Tang in a three-way race is 23.5 percentage points higher than last week's poll, which was carried out at a time when he was found to have illegal structures at his wife's home in Kowloon Tong.
His latest popularity rating was 2.8 percentage points lower than the previous poll, and 11.2 percentage points lower since the tracking poll was first carried out in mid-January. The latest poll interviewed 1,006 people between Monday and Wednesday.
In contrast, support for Tang's arch-rival, Leung Chun-ying, who yesterday secured 292 nominations from the 1,200-member Election Committee to formally join the race, hit a record-high of 51.2 per cent.
Leung's support rate has increased by 2.1 percentage points from the previous poll, widening his lead over the former chief secretary to 32.7 percentage points.
The latest poll also means that Tang's popularity is a mere 5.4 percentage points higher than pan-democratic candidate Albert Ho Chun-yan's 13.1 per cent. Ho has no real hope of winning what critics term a 'small-circle election'.
With New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Legislative Council president Tsang Yok-sing signalling their intention to enter the race, respondents were asked a separate set of questions for their preferences in a five-way race. Leung remained the most popular choice, with the support of 31.2 per cent, while Ip came second with 27.7 per cent. Tang ranked third at 12.5 per cent. Tsang scored 12.3 per cent and Ho 5.2 per cent. Ip will announce her election manifesto today, while Tsang has promised to decide whether to run by early next week.
The survey had a response rate of 65.1 per cent and a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
Meanwhile, a mock election ballot which allows Hongkongers to express their preference will go ahead after the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme received sufficient donations. The simulated ballot - which allows the city's adult residents to cast their ballot through the programme's website 'popvote.hk', by smart phone applications, or to cast votes in person - will be held on March 23, two days before the Election Committee votes to choose the city's next leader.
Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, the head of the programme, said the total amount pledged so far was HK$577,678. Of that, more than HK$482,000 in donations had been verified. He said the two biggest donors, who were anonymous, gave HK$150,000 and HK$100,000. The fund-raising would continue. The programme had not received donations from any of the candidates.
Chung had previously hoped to raise at least HK$500,000 to conduct the simulated election at one polling station, but now he hope to have five as more funds can be expected.