Wide gap between ‘pro-establishment’ support for Carrie Lam and John Tsang closes slightly: survey

Poll also finds Tsang’s popularity in chief executive race higher among younger and more educated

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 11:55pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 February, 2017, 1:19am

Chief executive contender Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-Ngor’s campaign received another major boost on Thursday as a group of local deputies to two national bodies vowed to support the former chief secretary.

Stephen Tai Tak-fung, president of the Friends of Hong Kong Association, said its 194 members of the 1,194-strong Election Committee will meet later to discuss how to back Lam.

The association is mainly made up of current and former deputies to the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

After a seminar between Lam and about 20 association members, Tai said: “We hope Lam can continue to serve society, we have confidence in her.”

Meanwhile, Henry Tang Ying-yen, who is on the CPPCC standing committee and also a core association member, said he was likely to support Lam – because “she can give Hong Kong hope” – although the association might not nominate or vote en bloc.

The fillip for Lam came as a survey commissioned by the South China Morning Post showed that the support she enjoyed among those who identified themselves as “pro-establishment” grew from 54.6 per cent in January when a similar poll was conducted, to 59.4 per cent in February.

But former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, seen as Lam’s major rival in the race, also gained more support from those identifying themselves as “pro-establishment”, as well as from those who considered themselves “middle of the road”, according to the poll results.

The second round of the public opinion survey by the Post was conducted between February 2 and February 8 while the first round was done in early January.

The latest data showed some 64.2 per cent of respondents, who identified themselves as “localist”, also backed Tsang, compared with 6.3 per cent for Lam.

Tsang won the support of 42.7 per cent of “middle of the road” respondents, up from 24.1 per cent in the January poll.

Tsang’s “pro-establishment” supporters grew from 4.4 per cent in the last poll to 16.4 per cent.

Liberal Party leader Felix Chung Kwok-pan said some of the 20 votes held by party members might go to Tsang, who shared similar visions as them.

John Tsang builds big lead over Carrie Lam in Hong Kong leadership race

The Business and Professionals Alliance said it would decide next week who to nominate and whether to bundle votes. The Chinese Importers’ and Exporters’ Association said some of its ­members favoured Lam.

With support from 59.4 per cent of “pro-establishment” poll respondents, Lam continued her big lead in this category over Tsang, but the gap between the two narrowed from 50.2 per cent in January to 42.9 per cent.

Tsang continued to gain ­support from the younger and more educated. Close to 60 per cent of those aged between 18 and 29 supported him, while he also had the approval of 57.7 per cent of those with a tertiary education.

Only 12.6 per cent of those aged between 18 and 29 backed Lam, with her popularity slipping as the education levels of respondents rose – a similar pattern to another chief executive hopeful, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee.

Retired judge Woo Kwok-hing was favoured by the young and educated, but was backed by only 8.7 per cent of all respondents.