Occupy Central

Confidence in Hong Kong’s police watchdog improves slightly from year before

Pollsters attribute results to a cooling of tensions following Occupy movement, and departure of city leader Leung Chun-ying

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 July, 2017, 3:12pm
UPDATED : Monday, 31 July, 2017, 10:48pm

Public satisfaction with Hong Kong’s police watchdog improved slightly this year from the low of last year, but about one in five young people still have a negative perception of the Independent Police Complaints Council, according to a survey released on Monday.

The council commissioned the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme to conduct telephone interviews with 1,010 people from March to June in order to gauge public perception.

Overall results show a 60.5 score out of 100 this year, up slightly from 56.1 last year and 60.3 in 2015.

Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, a researcher behind the poll, attributed this year’s results to the cooling of tensions in the aftermath of the Occupy movement and the recent change in leadership, with widely unpopular chief executive Leung Chun-ying wrapping up his term in office.

“These two main factors, and probably other related issues, contributed to a more peaceful environment in society,” Chung said.

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“When the survey was conducted in March this year, it was at a time when the public knew there would be a change in leadership because [Leung] already declared he would not run.”

The Occupy movement, a civil disobedience campaign that rocked Hong Kong for 79 days in 2014, saw thousands of protesters take to the streets to push for democracy, clashing with police and plunging public perception of law enforcement agents to new lows. Leung was the city’s leader at the time.

In the HKU survey, 55 per cent of respondents expressed a positive perception of the council, up slightly from 52 per cent last year. By comparison, 12 per cent view the council in a negative light, down 1 per cent from last year.

Respondents aged 18 to 29 and those with a tertiary education or above hold the worst perception of the council, with 22 per cent and 16 per cent respectively expressing negative views.

Richard Yu Koon-hing, the council’s secretary general, said he took the findings seriously.

“Last year, we visited the Fight Crime Committees in 18 districts to introduce the works of the council. We also started a school programme in which we visited 11 schools,” Yu said.

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“The council values the survey’s findings very much. They serve as indicators of what we need to do in the future ... We understand that if it takes too long to process a complaint, the complainants would lose confidence in the mechanism.”

Among interviewees who said they knew of the council, 67 per cent were aware that it is completely independent from the police force.

Two focus group discussions were also conducted. Some participants raised concerns over all council members being appointed by the city’s chief executive, while others criticised the council for not having engaged the public enough.