Criticised University of Hong Kong pollster makes his data public

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 5:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 5:00am

The University of Hong Kong pollster at the centre of a political storm over the impartiality of his research has released for public inspection the raw data of polls run on the chief executive's popularity.

The data sets of at least 43 surveys about Leung Chun-ying, conducted since he assumed the top job in July 2012, can now be found on the website of the university's public opinion programme, commonly called POP.

The raw data could be decoded by software known as SPSS, POP director Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu said. He said alternative software available free online could also be used.

The raw data showed some poll respondents, when asked to rate Leung's popularity on a scale of zero to 100, would give extreme scores such as zero, two, 10 or 100.

Chung made the unusual move yesterday as critics increasingly queried the way he presented survey findings.

Beijing-loyalist media have also accused him of having a hidden political agenda and of having ties with foreign spies.

Chung labelled the allegations as "Cultural Revolution-style" attacks - "groundless, absolutely unscientific, unacademic and unprofessional".

He called on his critics to return to "civilised discussion" of his research based on the released data.

The programme said: "POP adopts a sunshine policy on all research collaborations … The commentators who attack POP for collaborating with organisations with political backgrounds have chosen to ignore the objectivity and scientific requirements of academic studies."

It also denied having any contact with foreign agents.

Some critics claim Chung has exaggerated dissatisfaction with Leung, by presenting only the mean average score of respondents' ratings.

In the latest poll, Leung's popularity was 47.5. However, critics who had seen the raw data noted about 62 per cent had rated his popularity at 50 marks or above.

One of the critics, Cheung Chi-kong, executive director of the One Country Two Systems Research Institute, said that he was pleased Chung had released all of the raw data for public inspection.

However, the executive councillor maintained it was misleading for Chung to have unveiled only the mean scores in the past.

With additional reporting by Ng Kang-chung