21 October 2018
Carrie Lam (L) has narrowed her popularity gap with John Tsang in recent weeks, according to a survey. Photo: HKEJ
Carrie Lam (L) has narrowed her popularity gap with John Tsang in recent weeks, according to a survey. Photo: HKEJ

John Tsang’s popularity dips as his CE plans still in limbo

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam has seen her popularity rating climb in recent weeks, while that of former financial secretary John Tsang has taken a dip, according to a survey.

Opinion poll results unveiled by nowTV on Thursday showed divergence in the popularity trends of Lam and Tsang, two potential candidates for the 2017 chief executive election.

Although Tsang still scores high marks compared to his colleague, the popularity gap between the two has narrowed, the survey suggested.

That came as Beijing is yet to approve Tsang’s resignation as finance secretary, a move that he announced on December 12 in a apparent bid to join the CE race.

As the green light has been stalled, at least for now, it has prevented Tsang from officially declaring his candidacy for the 2017 election and launching his campaign.

This appears to have had some bearing in terms of his popularity rating vis-a-vis Lam, who is currently in Beijing amid rumors that she may be discussing her possible run for the top job. 

According to the survey commissioned by nowTV, Tsang had a popularity rating of 26.6 percent, down 1.4 percentage points compared to a previous poll.

Lam, meanwhile, has seen her popularity soar by 11.9 percentage points to 20.2 percent, closing in on Tsang.

The chief secretary said recently that she might consider joining the 2017 election as her boss, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, has announced that he won’t be seeking a second term. 

The nowTV survey, which was conducted by researchers from Lingnan University, showed that retired judge Woo Kwok-hing and New People’s Party chairperson Regina Ip also gained popularity in recent weeks.

Woo’s popularity rating stood at 11.5 percent, up 1.7 percentage points from the previous poll, while that of Ip went up by 4.5 percentage points to 10.7 percent.

For the survey, the third such exercise commissioned by nowTV in relation to the CE election, researchers from Lingnan University’s Public Governance Programme interviewed 1,007 people over five days starting from December 16.

Former Legislative Council chairman Jasper Tsang, who has yet to announce if he will join the CE race, trailed the pack with 8 percent, with his popularity down 2.7 percentage points from the previous poll.

Dr Li Pang-kwong, director of Lingnan’s Public Governance Programme, said the hold-up in John Tsang’s resignation approval sends a signal that Beijing is not backing him yet.

That may have had some influence on his current poll figures, Li said.

Meanwhile, a separate poll conducted by the Public Opinion Program of the University of Hong Kong revealed that Hong Kong people’s confidence level towards the central government has gone up sharply recently.

The confidence level shot up by nine percentage points to 39 percent, while the level of distrust has dropped by ten percentage points to 37 percent, taking the net confidence level to 19 percent.

The survey, for which 1,001 people were interviewed, was conducted after Leung announced that he will not run for another term as chief executive.

According to a Ming Pao Daily News report, the interviews were conducted during December 12-15, after Leung made his announcement on Dec. 9.

Ma Ngok, an associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, believes Leung’s pullout from the CE race has led to a rise in confidence on Beijing among Hong Kong people.

With the unpopular Leung suspected to have been told to stay out of contention, local residents may be feeling that the central government is listening to their voices.

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