Hongkongers remain sharply divided over Beijing's plan for the 2017 chief executive election, a recent poll found, but about half of the respondents who opposed the plan said they would support it if corporate votes were replaced by individual ones to elect members of the committee that nominates candidates. The survey found that, while 49.5 per cent of respondents wanted the reform passed, 38 per cent said Hong Kong's government should not accept Beijing's election framework. But 52 per cent of those said they would change their minds if the process for establishing the nominating committee was changed. In addition, 37 per cent of those who oppose the plan said they would support it if the public ballot included a choice of "none of the above", as Basic Law Committee member Professor Albert Chen Hung-yee has suggested. Researchers at Lingnan University's public governance programme polled 1,004 voting-age Hongkongers at random via telephone between January 26 and February 1 for the survey, which was commissioned by the Concern Group for Public Opinion on Constitutional Development. That group of 15 liberal-minded politicians, scholars and professionals includes former Democratic Party lawmakers and Centaline Property Agency boss Shih Wing-ching, among others. It was formed last year and has since conducted four surveys on political reform, trying to trace the change in public opinion. Group member Linda Li Che-lan, a scholar at City University's Department of Public Policy, said the government could improve the reform plan while staying within Beijing's framework. "It isn't that Hongkongers do not want the reform package to be passed. They do … [but] only if certain improvements are made," she said. The framework announced by Beijing in August stipulates that all Hongkongers may vote for a candidate in the 2017 chief executive election, but that those candidates must be approved by more than half of a 1,200-member nominating committee. That committee is based on the model for the current election committee, which includes representatives from industrial, commercial and financial sectors, as well as professions, labour and religion and legislators. Some of those members are elected by members of their sector, with some corporations able to cast one vote on behalf of their employees. The 52 per cent of opponents who said they could change their minds wanted those individuals to each get a vote. Shih said the administration should work harder to garner public support instead of just lobbying lawmakers. Pan-democratic "lawmakers may have bound themselves [to veto the plan], but their supporters seem to be more flexible," he said. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor refused to comment on the survey results, but said the administration would continue to work to convince Hongkongers that the reform plan could be improved.