20 April 2019
One in five people surveyed said they had been to the Occupy protest sites. Photo: HKEJ
One in five people surveyed said they had been to the Occupy protest sites. Photo: HKEJ

1.2 million people took part in Occupy protests, poll shows

An estimated 1.2 million people took part in the Occupy Central protests, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Friday, citing a survey.

In the poll by the Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s School of Journalism, 38 percent of respondents supported Beijing’s proposal on electoral reform and were willing to “pocket it first”, up 9 percentage points from early September and the highest level recorded in a series of surveys.

However, 43.1 percent of respondents still wanted pan-democratic lawmakers to veto the proposal, which has been criticized for, in effect, screening out candidates from the democratic camp in the 2017 election for the city’s chief executive.

A total of 1,011 Hong Kong residents aged 15 or above were surveyed by telephone between December 8 and 12, which was after the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism called for a siege of government headquarters in Admiralty and the three founders of Occupy Central turned themselves in to the police.

In the survey, 33.9 percent of the respondents supported the Occupy protests, while 42.3 percent opposed the movement, up 1.2 percentage point from November.

About 76.2 percent of respondents supported a full retreat from the protest areas, higher than the 67.4 percent recorded in the previous poll.

Professor Lee Lap-fung of CUHK said the results showed that Hongkongers have maintained a consistent perception of the movement but have changed their mind on its strategies.

The survey found 20.1 percent of the respondents had shown up at the Occupy sites, which worked out to 1.2 million Hongkongers taking part in the protests.

Ivan Choy, a political commentator at CUHK, said if one-sixth of Hong Kong’s population has joined the protests, it means there is a strong demand for change that the government should not simply ignore by doing nothing like it did in the past two months, Apple Daily reported. 

If the government tables an overly conservative proposal for electoral reform after the second round of public consultations, it may trigger a strong reaction from the public, Labor Party chairman and lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan warned.

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