Popularity ratings for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her justice minister Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah have hit record lows, according to the latest edition of a survey by a local university. The chief executive’s score on a scale of 1 to 100 dropped 5.5 points to 50.9 in the poll by the University of Hong Kong, which interviewed about 1,000 city residents last week. Lam’s rating was close to an all-time worst of 47.6 seen in October last year. Her net approval rating fell 21 percentage points to a new low. Cheng fared even worse with a score of just 30.4, the lowest since she took office a year ago and a 6.7 point drop on last month’s rating. A political commentator said the two officials had shown arrogance and their falling ratings could be related to decisions by Cheng and anti-corruption officials not to prosecute Lam’s predecessor, Leung Chun-ying. The pair’s unpopularity could also be down to Lam’s explanation last week of a proposal to raise the age threshold for claiming elderly welfare payments from 60 to 65, Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said. Carrie Lam’s talk of ‘hot kitchens’ in defence of Teresa Cheng insults us all as the justice chief faces a political grilling Choy and lawmakers urged the leader and minister to better explain their policies and review contentious decisions. Only 37 per cent of those polled said they would support Lam carrying on as chief executive, while 48 per cent said they would not. The figures translated to a net approval rating of minus 11 percentage points, which was 21 percentage points lower than last month and the lowest since Lam took office in July 2017. Just 11 per cent said they would back Cheng, with an overwhelming 59 per cent opposing her as justice chief. Her net approval rating was minus 48 per cent, which was also a record low and the lowest among 17 top officials included in the poll. Choy said: “Both of them were arrogant, and the public could not understand the policy decisions they made. “Lam especially should bear in mind that pro-establishment lawmakers, lower-income families and the elderly are usually loyal supporters of the government ... Yet the adjustment to social security policy seems to be hitting them hard.” Under-fire Hong Kong justice chief Teresa Cheng agrees to appear before lawmakers as outcry over dropped CY Leung case rumbles on Last month the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said it would end an investigation into a HK$50 million (US$6.38 million) payment to Leung in 2012 and 2013 by Australian engineering firm UGL. The ICAC said it had obtained legal advice on the case from Hong Kong’s Department of Justice. On December 26 Cheng broke a two-week silence on the subject by saying the justice department had not sought advice from external legal experts on the payment because that practice only applied in cases involving internal staff. On Thursday last week Lam deflected criticism from lawmakers over the rise in the age at which the elderly can begin claiming social security assistance. She said legislators had already approved the change in last year’s budget.