21 September 2019
Half of the Hongkongers surveyed have no confidence in the 'one country, two systems' principle. Photo: HKEJ
Half of the Hongkongers surveyed have no confidence in the 'one country, two systems' principle. Photo: HKEJ

Hongkongers most pessimistic since SARS, poll shows

The last time Hongkongers were so pessimistic about the city’s future was during the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, a new survey shows.

Half of them lack confidence in the Basic Law’s “one country, two systems” principle, which guaranteed that Hong Kong would retain its institutions and way of life for 50 years after the British returned the colony to China in 1997.

Only 44 percent of the more than 1,000 respondents to the survey, done by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Program (POP) from Sept. 9-17, said they thought Hong Kong’s future was bright, down from 49 percent in a similar survey three months earlier, Apple Daily reported Wednesday.

Half of them did not think the future was bright, up from 43 percent.

That brought the net confidence in Hong Kong’s future (the difference between positive and negative responses) down to minus 6 percent, the lowest since 2003, from positive 6 percent.

The respondents’ net confidence in China’s future also dropped, to 26 percent from 48 percent.

While the survey was being conducted, Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, said in a speech Sept. 12 that the chief executive has a constitutional status higher than that of the three branches of government — the executive, the legislature and the judiciary — and has “overriding” authority over the judiciary.

Unlike developed countries, Hong Kong does not have real separation of powers, Zhang said.

The survey found that Hongkongers’ net confidence in the “one country, two systems” principle stood at minus 7 percent.

Half of the respondents, including seven in 10 of those aged between 18 and 29, said they have no confidence in the principle.

Five in 10 of those aged 50 and above said they have confidence in “one country, two systems”.

Among the three governments in the Greater China region, 37 percent of respondents said they do not trust the Hong Kong government, 44 percent do not trust the Chinese government and 31 percent do not trust the Taiwan government.

Robert Chung Ting-yiu, the director of POP, said the results of the survey showed the younger the respondents, the less trust they have in Beijing and the “one country, two systems” principle.

Civic Party legislator Kenneth Chan Ka-lok said the survey indicated that many Hongkongers found Zhang’s remarks repulsive.

But fellow legislator Wong Kwok-kin, of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, said that was only one of the many reasons leading to the decline in public confidence, which can be restored if the government strictly follows the Basic Law.

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