Legislator James Tien Pei-chun is spending HK$250,000 on a large-scale public opinion poll on the government’s electoral reform proposal in the hope its findings will encourage pan-democratic lawmakers to vote for the plan.
Tien, honorary chairman of the Liberal Party, is donating that sum to the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Program (POP) for the survey to be conducted 10 days before legislative councilors vote on the proposal, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday.
Saying POP is a long-term, trusted partner of the democratic camp, Tien said he hopes to lobby the pan-democrats to vote in favor of the proposal based on the results of the poll.
“I do not think the pan-democrats will be willing to consider a survey conducted by any pro-government organization, such as the One Country Two Systems Research Institute,” he said.
Tien apparently has not informed the government and Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong about his decision.
He said he feels they will not be against the idea as long as it can help win over the pan-democrats.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said the pan-democrats will take the survey results as a reference but pointed out that Tien had not requested that they vote according to the results.
When asked if the Liberal Party would vote against the government’s proposal should the outcome of the survey suggest the public is opposed to it, Tien said the pan-democrats do not need his party’s votes to bring down the government’s plan.
He reiterated the party’s stance that there are more pros than cons in accepting the reform proposal.
Tien said he is confident that the survey will come out in favor of the government’s plan.
“I would not be commissioning a survey if I do not have that confidence,” he said.
POP director Robert Chung Ting-yiu said the proposed survey will interview 5,000 people, which will narrow the margin of error to plus or minus 1.4 percent, as a sample size of 1,000 interviewees would produce a greater margin of error.
The survey will ask respondents if they support or oppose the universal suffrage solution proposed by the government for the 2017 election for chief executive.
Tien said he is hoping to win over at least five votes from the pan-democrats so that the government’s proposal will be passed.
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