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Legislative Council elections 2016

Pro-establishment newspaper approved to conduct exit polls in Hong Kong election

Sing Pao Newspaper Company will have pollsters at hundreds of locations during the September 4 Legislative Council elections, while local university has been forced to scale down

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2016, 10:12pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 12:52pm

A pro-establishment newspaper has been approved to conduct exit polls during the Legislative Council election on Sunday, while a lack of sponsorship has force another long-time provider to scale down its survey.

Sing Pao Newspaper Company is covering some 300 out of the 571 general polling stations on September 4.

The newspaper, which has been plagued by debt and had its ownership repeatedly change between pro-establishment businessmen over the past decade, is one of the three organisations approved by the Registration and Electoral Office to interview voters on Sunday.

“We are fielding more than 100 pollsters in different stations and different times. The results will be published only after the poll closes,” Lau Mei-yee, editor-in-chief of Sing Pao, said, adding that the paper has also conducted surveys on candidates’ popularity.

Meanwhile, HKU’s public opinion programme, which has conducted exit polls for Legco elections since 1991, said this year it could only afford to run a “voluntary student project”, because of lacking sponsorship.

“It’s a pity we don’t have the resources to do a full-scale survey this time,” Karie Pang Ka-lai, assistant director of the programme, said. “We don’t just ask people who they vote for, but also their age and occupation, background and so on, for more academic research and analysis.”

HKU will not carry out data analysis on the election day or predict election results due to the limited sample size.

During the by-election in February, Hong Kong Research Association released exit poll data for free. Frank Lee, research manager of the HKU’s programme, said the free service may have deterred would-be financial sponsors.

Ma Ngok, a political scientist from the Chinese University, said the rules did not forbid a newspaper from conducting exit polls.

“But after all, the newspaper has a political stance. I doubt the poll results would be accurate if people shun their pollsters or give them false answers,” Ma said.

Legco election pollsters defend survey methodology amid criticism

The newspaper raised eyebrows yesterday after it ran a full-page commentary slamming Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying for allegedly encouraging Hong Kong independence when it was only a “false proposition” supported by few people. It also criticised Leung for allowing Beijing’s liaison office to interfere in domestic affairs, alleging that the office might not be representative of the central government’s view.

Senior management of Sing Pao told the Post that putting the commentary on the front page was “a political gesture”, and the newspaper endorsed the commentator’s view.

But as to whether this amounted to taking a stance on the chief executive election, the source said it was too early to say.

In response, Leung told the media there had been pro-independence talk in books and in schools before he raised the issue.