Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and his team of ministers have shown a more 'mature' attitude towards public opinion polls than his predecessor Tung Che-hwa, says pollster Robert Chung Ting-yiu. 'From my point of view, Donald Tsang, not just when he became chief executive, but even before that when he was financial secretary and chief secretary, always answered questions about poll findings fairly properly,' said Dr Chung. He said ministers in Mr Tsang's cabinet had referred to their low rankings in his polls, 'but at least they have not attacked the poll findings as politically motivated,' he said. Established in 1991, Dr Chung's popular opinion programme has been regularly conducting polls asking the public's rating on overall governance and the performance of individual cabinet members. In 2000, a high-profile inquiry was held into whether the government interfered with academic freedom in voicing displeasure at Dr Chung's polls, which consistently showed former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa's weak popularity. The inquiry found that 'as a result of the conversation between [Andrew Lo Cheung-on, Mr Tung's close aide] and the vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong [Professor Cheng Yiu-chung] on January 6, 1999, [pro-vice-chancellor] Professor Wong Siu-lun, acting at the behest of the vice-chancellor, conveyed a message to Dr Chung on January 29, 1999, which was calculated to inhibit his right to academic freedom'. Dr Chung praised last governor Chris Patten as a 'mature politician' who knew how to handle and respect popular opinion polls. 'But Tung Chee-hwa was entirely different, that era was definitely a backward step,' he said. While Mr Tsang's attitude was a marked improvement, he said the government still needed to learn, and set guidelines, on how to use poll findings so as not to abuse them to promote its own proposition. 'Most of all, I want the government to respect popular opinion, and I want it to persuade the Beijing authorities to respect popular opinion,' said Dr Chung, remarking that a screening process against potential candidates for chief executive would be a 'physical manifestation' of their distrust of popular opinion.