Survey shows support for screening out 'unpatriotic' chief executive hopefuls

Hongkongers slightly in favour of committee weeding out anti-Beijing chief executive hopefuls

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 3:49am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 4:56pm

Pan-democrats might do well to sit up and take notice of the latest survey on political reform - more Hongkongers support than oppose screening out "unpatriotic" chief executive hopefuls.

The survey found 38 per cent of locals favoured allowing the nominating committee for the 2017 election to screen out candidates it deemed unpatriotic and confrontational to Beijing.

Some 36 per cent objected to the idea, said the Alliance for True Democracy, a grouping of 26 out of 27 pan-democratic lawmakers that commissioned the poll.

"It is a warning signal to us," alliance convenor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek said yesterday. "We need to work very hard to convince and explain to Hongkongers the danger of political vetting. It seems Hongkongers are unsure of the intention of screening."

This was the first time the Alliance had posed this question to the public.

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme, which interviewed 1,030 people from January 23 to 29, cautioned against reading too much into the difference of about 2 percentage points.

The support and opposition rates could be perceived as equivalent, statistically, as the margin of error in the study was plus or minus 3 per cent, the programme's research manager Frank Lee Wai-kin said.

The survey also found half of the interviewees believed the nominating committee should be required to endorse candidates who had secured enough nominations from the public, while 18 per cent disagreed.

About 40 per cent said the government should not cap the number of candidates, against 33 per cent who disagreed.

Interviewees who opposed modelling the nominating committee on the composition of the election committee dropped a significant 11 percentage points to 42 per cent, compared with the programme's first study on the topic, conducted in October. About 21 per cent of respondents backed the idea.

The results might be a product of recent government propaganda on the ongoing public consultation on electoral reform, Cheng said.

The election committee which elected Leung Chun-ying in 2012 had 1,193 members. The committee is often criticised as being unrepresentative.

As for the Legislative Council election in 2016, 47 per cent called for all functional constituencies to be abolished by then. Only 15 per cent said the seats, which represent trade and professional sectors, should be kept.