For the first time in five years, fewer than half of Hongkongers surveyed say the central government should reverse its stance on the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Respondents to the annual survey were also the most optimistic they have been about human-rights conditions on the mainland since the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme began conducting it in 1993. The poll was carried out between last Wednesday and Monday. Results released yesterday show 49 per cent of the 1,007 respondents support a reversal in the official stance, a drop of 6 percentage points from last year's survey. The last time support for a reversal fell below 50 per cent was in 2003, when 46.6 per cent of respondents called for a change in stance. The proportion backing a change in stance hit a low of 39.1 per cent in 2002. The results also show that 85 per cent believe the mainland's human-rights conditions have improved, and 77 per cent believe they will improve within the next three years. Both figures are survey records. Half the respondents believe the Tiananmen students 'did the right thing', the same as last year, and 58 per cent believe the central government 'did the wrong thing', a 5 percentage point drop from last year. The percentage who think the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China should be disbanded is also at its highest, 23 per cent, an increase of 2 points from last year, which is within the margin of error of plus or minus 3 points. When asked to choose between improving the economy and instigating democracy in China, respondents generally chose the economy, which the head of the HKU public opinion programme, Robert Chung Ting-yiu, said was a consistent trend. '[However,] although it is still the majority view that the central government did the wrong thing in 1989, and that the official stance on June 4 should be reversed, both figures have dropped significantly [from] one year ago, probably due to the Olympic tide and the Sichuan earthquake relief effort,' Dr Chung said. Meanwhile, HKU students maintained their support for a revision of the central government's stance. A group of students yesterday took part in the annual ritual of painting slogans on a campus footpath in support of democracy and calling for a vindication of the June 4 student pro-democracy movement.