Little sign of a Tang resurgence
Embattled chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen has apparently failed to close the popularity gap on his arch-rival Leung Chun-ying significantly, as he had vowed to do.
The latest poll conducted by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme shows the gap between the two front runners stood at 33.5 percentage points.
The proportion who said they did not want Tang to get the city's top job was up by 2.1 percentage points at 73.8 per cent from the previous poll, conducted between Saturday and Monday.
In the latest poll - co-commissioned by the South China Morning Post and conducted on Monday and yesterday - Tang polled 17.7 per cent in a three-horse race with Leung, who polled 51.2 per cent, and pan-democratic candidate Albert Ho Chun-yan on 13.3 per cent. Support for Tang was up just 0.9 percentage points.
The poll - which interviewed 501 respondents - has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
Tang's popularity hit a record low of 16.8 per cent in the previous poll, after news emerged of the illegal basement at a home in Kowloon Tong owned by his wife.
Tang told his campaign team last Thursday: 'The opponent could have hit our popularity in a period of days, [then] we have to make our popularity rebound in a short period of time.' Tang did not specify who the 'opponent' was.
Tang has uploaded articles on his blog five days in a row, arguing that the next government has to be pragmatic, but he has made few public appearance in recent days. Yesterday, Tang wrote that the public should be wary of a politician who always thinks he has made the correct decisions and shifts the responsibility for mistakes on to others.
'Even though people are thinking of change nowadays, they should be careful and not believe in slogans easily. When people are declaring support for a candidate, they have to consider carefully whether the changes would bring risks and costs to Hong Kong society after the candidate obtains power,' Tang said.
A spokeswoman for Tang declined to say whether the article was aimed at any particular candidate.
Leung's lead over the former chief secretary was down marginally from 36.9 percentage points to 33.5 percentage points after support for him fell by 2.5 percentage points.
Respondents were asked about their preference in a four-horse race involving New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who needs 150 nominations by today to enter the race. Leung won the support of 37 per cent, while Ip came second with 29.4 per cent. Tang had 14.4 per cent and Ho 9.8 per cent.
Meanwhile, East Week reported that Leung had been involved in a conflict-of-interest case as council chairman at City University. It reported that Hsin Chong Construction won a bid for a HK$700 million project at the university in 2010 because Chan Ka-kui, its former non-executive director, had a close relationship with Leung. Chan is reportedly a core supporter of Leung.
Leung denied the reports yesterday, saying neither he nor Chan were involved in the bidding process. Conflict of interest accusations have previously been made over Leung's role as a judge in the 2001 West Kowloon arts hub design contest.
Leung said he had spent a lot of time tackling accusations against him but had not been involved in negative stories about Tang and Legco president Tsang Yok-sing - who ruled out running on Monday.
'A lot of the information was released via the media, so the media organisations should have the clearest understanding of whether the news came from me or my office,' he said.
Of respondents made Henry Tang their top choice for chief executive in a February 11 poll, before the illegal basement scandal broke