Job done after five years? Hong Kong cabinet members’ scorecards are in
Only one was deemed an ‘ideal’ performer in polls by the University of Hong Kong, with eight labelled ‘mediocre’ and five ‘inconspicuous’
It’s a classic chicken and egg situation – did ministers in the cabinet of Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s government struggle to get buy-in for their policies because they were unpopular, or the other way round?
Whatever the case, one thing is certain: education chief Eddie Ng Hak-him is the most unpopular member of the cabinet, with a net approval rating – the difference between a vote of confidence and vote of no confidence – of minus 51 per cent. His performance falls under the category of “depressing”.
According to the latest poll by the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme, food and health chief Dr Ko Wing-man – with a net approval rate of 72 per cent – was the only minister whose performance could be labelled “ideal”. Eight were “mediocre”, while five were “inconspicuous”.
Apart from Ng, financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, innovation and technology chief Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung and home affairs chief Lau Kong-wah also had a negative net approval rating.
The beleaguered Ng faced an enormous challenge soon after he took over as tens of thousands of protesters besieged government headquarters to quash plans for national education teaching – branded “brainwashing” by critics. He became even more unpopular when he pressed ahead with the heavily criticised Territory-wide System Assessment.
Former lawmaker Chan’s popularity also plunged soon after he was appointed development chief when it emerged his family had invested in farmland in an area slated for development and in subdivided flats.
Commerce and economic development chief Greg So Kam-leung and Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung secured positive ratings, but they had arguably the most hot potatoes to handle.
So came under fire in 2013 after he defended the government’s decision not to offer HKTV – led by outspoken entrepreneur Ricky Wong Wai-kay – a free-to-air television licence, and later when he pressed ahead with an unpopular copyright amendment bill that critics warned would stifle free speech.
Cheung struggled as property prices continued to skyrocket while the waiting time for public housing lengthened. He was also confronted with problems related to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and the high-speed railway link to Guangzhou.