SCMP’s Falklands-inspired poll sparks Hong Kong colonial debate

Thousands take to their keyboards to register 'yes' votes. A look behind the numbers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 6:44pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am


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When Falkland Islanders voted 99.8 per cent to stay a British Overseas Territory, little did they know they would also kick up a fuss all the way around the world in Hong Kong.

A poll on asks readers to vote “yes” or “no” on the following:

Would Hongkongers vote to return to a British overseas territory, given the option?

So far, the answer has been resoundingly affirmative, but the pie chart doesn’t tell the whole story. As of 7pm Hong Kong time on Wednesday, 3,966 readers had voted "yes", while 373 voted "no". It also yielded more than 1,400 Facebook "likes" and 123 tweets.

The poll is unscientific, as many have already noted. posts a different poll question every day to gauge public sentiment on hot topics and encourage reader interaction. The surveys are just for fun: no numbers are published on how many people have voted. The system allows only one vote per IP address, and all polls are outside the metered paywall.

The idea for this particular question started on Twitter.

Falkland Islanders voted over two days on a referendum stating: “Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?”

More than 90 per cent of 1,672 eligible voters turned out to vote “yes” - that’s in a population of 2,900, according to BBC News.

When the news broke, Cam MacMurchy of The Nanfang blog tweeted:

With that question set in motion, decided to see what others might think and posted a similar question at 12.55pm.

The wording of the question was carefully chosen, which could be important to note, lest some might think that a “yes” submission represents one Hong Kong person’s vote. Therefore it would be incorrect to state, for example, that 80 per cent of Hongkongers want to return to British rule.

By 3pm, the poll was making the rounds on Twitter. SCMP posted it on its Facebook page at about 5.30pm.

Since the poll was published, voters appear to strongly think that Hongkongers would be in favour of returning to British rule.

On Twitter and Facebook, commenters take into account current nostalgia in Hong Kong as a result of anti-Beijing sentiment, as evidenced by the appearance of the colonial flag at protests.

“Massive nostalgia of better times and a more certain government. I don't think I have ever seen a China flag sported anywhere in HK except on a flag pole,” reads one comment on Facebook.

On a post about the poll, the Shanghaist blog brings up the tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing and the reasons behind them.

Others thought of a third option to the poll: independence.

About 3pm on Wednesday, Chinese-language web portal House News posted an article about the poll.

There, one person commented: "This outcome must surprise SAR Govt as well as Beijing." 

Currently, the poll is the second most popular since the redesigned SCMP site launched on August 31. The most popular question has 8,819 submissions (so far):

Are mainland Chinese people still welcome in Hong Kong? (October 5)