Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s popularity on the rise – but so is dissatisfaction

HKU survey reveals no cabinet official scores high enough to be called ‘ideal’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 August, 2017, 6:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 August, 2017, 9:47pm

The start of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s term has been marred by political controversies, but they have not dented her popularity with the public, according to a new survey.

The results released on Tuesday found 52 per cent of Hongkongers had confidence in the city’s top official – two percentage points higher than her score in a similar survey two weeks earlier.

But the proportion of Hongkongers who were unsatisfied with Lam grew two percentage points also, with 37 per cent saying they had no confidence in the leader.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam at highest popularity since she was elected four months ago: poll

Around 800 people with landlines were contacted between August 2 and 7 by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme. The programme regularly conducts surveys on the popularity of public officials. The survey had a margin of error of 3 per cent.

Lam scored 59 out of 100 for popularity, half a percentage point higher than her tally for the previous survey. But the mark was still lower than her highest rating as chief executive – 63.7 – recorded at the start of her term, which kicked off on July 1.

The city’s most popular minister was Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah, with 42 per cent of Hongkongers saying they had confidence in him. Only 7 per cent said they had no confidence in him.

The programme’s senior data analyst, Edward Tai Chit-fai, said no official was an “ideal” performer, defined as an approval rating exceeding 66 per cent. Lam was categorised as “successful” because her approval rating exceeded 50 per cent.

More than one month into her term, Lam is more popular at this point in her tenure than were her predecessor, Leung Chun-ying, and the city’s last colonial governor, Chris Patten, in theirs, according to HKU figures.

Carrie Lam prepared to reject previous government’s long-term fiscal strategy for Hong Kong

But she was still well behind former chief executives Tung Chee-hwa and Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who each notched popularity ratings averaging over 65 in their second month of office.

Lam has faced a number of thorny political issues since her term began.

In mid-July, four pro-democracy lawmakers were disqualified from the Legislative Council after a local court ruled they had failed to sincerely pledge allegiance to China while taking their oaths of office last autumn. The ruling prompted the city’s pro-democracy camp to accuse the government of “rewriting election results”.

Over the past few weeks, Lam has dealt with backlash over a controversial proposal to allow national Chinese laws to be enforced inside a high-speed rail terminal connecting Hong Kong to the mainland.