7 in 10 Hongkongers want Beijing to be silent on chief executive election: poll

Survey by moderate group also confirms John Tsang’s leading popularity ratings

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 March, 2017, 11:17pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 March, 2017, 12:47am

About seven out of 10 Hongkongers want Beijing to refrain from commenting on the chief executive election, with only 1.9 per cent rating the central government’s “trust” as the most important criteria among the four laid out by mainland officials for the city’s leader, according to a poll by a moderate group.

John Tsang Chun-wah was the most popular candidate with a support rate of 43.9 per cent, followed by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor at 27.6 per cent, and Woo Kwok-hing at 12.7 per cent.

The survey, conducted between March 1 and 7, was commissioned by Future at Hong Kong, formed by a group of moderate pan-democrats and scholars.

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Two of the group’s core members – businessman Lau Ming-wai and barrister Laurence Li Lu-jen – also serve on Lam’s campaign team. Another member, Tik Chi-yuen, chairman of the middle-of-the-road party Third Side, has earlier expressed support for Lam. Future at Hong Kong stressed the trio were excluded from the survey to avoid a possible conflict of interest.

Of the 1,014 people polled, 69.4 per cent said it was “inappropriate” for Beijing to indicate its preference for a candidate.

Only 13 per cent accepted the practice as they felt it would lower the risk of Beijing refusing to appoint a winning candidate unfavoured by the central government.

Further data showed that 53.1 per cent of respondents who considered themselves “pro-establishment” wanted Beijing to keep its views to itself, while 66.4 per cent of those “without political leaning” also felt the same way.

A core member of Future at Hong Kong and City University political scientist Professor Linda Li Che-lan said: “A majority of people wanting Beijing to shut up shows that we do treasure autonomy and “one country two, systems”. That is a good sign.”

Some 24 per cent of respondents also said “Hongkongers’ support” was the most important factor for a candidate. Only 1.9 per cent rated “Beijing’s trust” as the most important requirement.

Future at Hong Kong convenor Fred Li Wah-ming, a former lawmaker, warned that given Lam’s lack of a popular mandate, she could face a hard time governing the city even if she won the election.