Former financial chief John Tsang Chun-wah remains the top choice of Hongkongers in the chief executive race, the latest public opinion survey commissioned by the Hong Kong Economic Journal shows, but most people believe his key rival Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will have the last laugh.
According to the poll conducted after the nomination period ended on March 1 by the Center for Communication and Public Opinion Survey of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), 41.2 percent of respondents said they want Tsang as the next chief executive, up 7.7 percentage points from January, while 34.3 percent said they back former chief secretary Lam, up 3.4 points.
Tsang’s support rate is the highest since the survey began last November and the first time it surpassed 40 percent.
The survey, the fourth of its kind commissioned by the HKEJ, showed that support for retired judge Woo Kwok-hing – another candidate for the city’s top job – rose to 11.8 percent from 8.1 percent previously.
Among Tsang’s supporters, 51.8 percent said he will be able to heal the divisions in society, while 20.9 percent said they trust him to improve people’s life.
On the other hand, 23.9 percent of Lam’s supporters said she is trustworthy in Beijing’s eyes.
The survey results can only be used as reference because the chief executive is chosen not by universal suffrage but by a nearly 1,200-member Election Committee.
That is probably why nearly seven in 10 respondents chose Lam over Tsang when they were asked who is most likely to win in the March 26 election.
Meanwhile, 58.4 percent believe the outcome of the election has already been finalized and there is no way public opinion can change it.
Such a belief was most prevalent among respondents aged 18 to 29, with 73.4 percent of them thinking so, while the ratio was nearly 50 percent or higher among other age groups.
Most of those with higher level of education also tend to hold the belief.
Francis Lee, a professor at CUHK’s School of Journalism and Communication, said all the three candidates have shown strength, but most people feel “Chief Executive Carrie Lam” is a done deal unless some unexpected incidents happen before election day.
Lee also said Woo might take away some votes from Tsang since their supporters share similar backgrounds.
Civic Party chairman Alan Leong Kah-kit, who is a member of the Election Committee, urged Beijing to take the survey seriously as the results suggest a big gap between what Hongkongers want and “the reality”.
A government led by Carrie Lam will only drive more young people to support Hong Kong independence, or possibly even use violence to express their position, Leong said.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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