Date
27 March 2017
With district council elections just days away, questions are being raised over the motives behind public opinion surveys by multiple agencies. Photo: HKEJ
With district council elections just days away, questions are being raised over the motives behind public opinion surveys by multiple agencies. Photo: HKEJ

Doubts surface over opinion surveys ahead of district polls

As Hong Kong heads for district council elections on Sunday, some observers are raising concerns over public opinion surveys being conducted by multiple agencies.

With agencies seeking to identify voters’ preferred candidates, there are worries that some of them could be trying to influence the outcome of the vote, Apple Daily reported.

According to a list posted Tuesday on the Electoral Affairs Commission’s website, three agencies that are seen closely connected to the pro-establishment camp, besides the Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong, have applied to conduct public opinion polls.

The three agencies are Hong Kong Research Association, Hong Kong Society Monitor, and the Association of Community in Hong Kong, whose surveys cover 282 of the 363 designated polling stations in 18 districts.

Apple Daily found that voters in some of the constituencies that are seeing intense electoral battles are being surveyed by not just one but two of the three agencies, a situation that is unusual.

It was also found that the three agencies are ignoring the constituencies where there are no candidates from the pan-democratic camp, and those that have a very good chance of opting for candidates from the pro-establishment camp.

The pan-democratic camp has questioned such opinion polling tactics by the agencies, and alleged that the moves could be aimed at influencing the overall election result.

Joseph Cheng, who had studied elections before he retired from the City University of Hong Kong as professor of politics, said he has never seen the three polling agencies publish any survey results before.

Voters should stay alert when being interviewed, he said. It is better not to respond to an agency about which they are not confident about, he said.

Political commentator Ivan Choy also expressed doubts about the purpose of the three agencies, saying their survey plans look suspicious.

According to a spokesman from the Registration and Electoral Office, a survey agency is prohibited from publishing any result before voting ends, or commenting on any candidate’s performance and prospects.

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TL/AC/RC

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