The chief executive's popularity has plunged below the "warning line" and his administration could be thrown into a crisis of governance, a pollster warns.
Robert Chung Ting-yiu, director of the University of Hong Kong public opinion programme, was responding to the latest poll which shows Leung Chun-ying's popularity rating at yet another record low: 43.7 marks out of 100.
That was a decline of two points from two weeks ago. His approval rating edged down one percentage point to 25 per cent, also a new low since he took the helm 13 months ago.
The university programme interviewed 1,015 people from August 15 to 20 for the survey.
"Now that C. Y. Leung's popularity rating is below the warning line of 45, it's worth discussing whether he's facing a governance crisis," said Chung.
He added that politicians with a score under 50 were already in negative territory, and if the rating dipped below 45 that could indicate a credibility crisis.
In the poll, only 25 per cent of the respondents backed Leung as chief executive, versus 56 per cent who cast a vote of no confidence. The result was a net approval rating of minus 31 percentage points, as it was two weeks ago. Net satisfaction with the government's performance stayed at minus 23 per cent, where it stood in July. The maximum sampling error for all figures was plus or minus 4 per cent.
The chief executive's popularity has fallen below the "warning line" much faster than his predecessors' since the 1997 handover. Tung Chee-hwa's rating sank below the line in March 2003, 51/2 years after he took office. And Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's rating fell below 45 in April 2012 - three months before his term ended.
Separately, referring to the Cathay Pacific junket saga plaguing 10 lawmakers and executive councillor Cheng Yiu-tong, Acting Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said Exco's rules on declaration of interests were strict and sound. Lam said Cheng declared the trip on August 9, before he left for France, and it satisfied the requirements.
"Our secretariat will remind the councillor [Cheng] to declare his interests when Exco comes across any issues related to the company [Cathay] that sponsored the trip," she said. "The chief executive will then decide if there are any conflicts of interest and whether [Cheng] should abstain from the discussion." A group of retired police officers cancelled a protest over the junket that they were due to hold yesterday because of "internal disagreements", said Yeung Yiu-ming, a spokesman for the group.
Yeung denied the protest was politically motivated because Democratic Party lawmakers Albert Ho Chun-yan and James To Kun-sun were on the six-day trip, "even if both of them were constantly antagonising police".
The lawmakers were flown, with either a spouse or a child, from Hong Kong to Toulouse via Paris and returned on a new Cathay aircraft last Wednesday.
Cathay Pacific's director of corporate affairs Chitty Cheung said the trip had nothing to do with influencing lawmakers over granting licences to rival airlines.
Additional reporting by Ernest Kao