I have no idea if University of Hong Kong pollster Robert Chung Ting-yiu is a pan-democrat. I rather suspect that he is. But I am pretty sure Peter Lee Ka-kit, heir-apparent of Henderson Land and an adviser to Beijing, hasn't really gone through Chung's public opinion surveys before heaping criticism on the pollster for manipulating the public.
First, it's a bit rich for a guy who advises a state that controls and monitors most of the mainland media outlets to accuse someone of public opinion manipulation.
Second, it's not really Chung's polls that create and reinforce the impressions of the unpopularity of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and many of his principal officials, but rather the Hong Kong media's selective reporting of them. This is why you really have to look at all the polls that Chung's centre at HKU has conducted, including those on lawmakers and political parties. Let's see some numbers from those HKU polls that may surprise you.
Leung's February rating drops 1.5 points to 46.4 out of 100. That makes him pretty unpopular, right? Give or take one point for a margin of error and he has similar ratings, polled in mid-January, as pan-democrats Emily Lau Wai-hing, Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho Chun-yan. Of the four top-rated lawmakers, none belongs to the pan-democratic camp: Tsang Yok-sing (59.4), Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee (52.7), Michael Tien Puk-sun (52.6) and brother James Tien Pei-chun (52.2). The banana-throwing, protest-prone Albert Chan Wai-yip, "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and Wong Yuk-man range between 34 and 38.8.
The last poll for political parties, conducted in October last year, shows that not a single party rates above 50. The Civic Party, Democratic Party and the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong range between 45 and 47 points. The unpopularity of the League of Social Democrats (37.8) and People Power (36.3) simply tracks that of Long Hair and Chan.
But the media tends to over-report Leung's ratings while under-reporting those of lawmakers and their parties. If anything below 50 means being unpopular, a reader of Chung's polls would conclude the public is disillusioned with the government as much as with the pan-democrats and their parties.