Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has seen a declining trend in her popularity almost a year after she took the helm, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Based on polls conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme (HKUPOP), Lam’s popularity continued to head south over the past year, although there were ups and downs during the period.
Her rating stood at 54.3 points this month, around 11 percent down from a peak of 61.1, which was seen in July last year, her first month in office, HKUPOP’s polls showed.
Lam’s predecessor Leung Chun-ying, who is currently vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body, had also suffered a similar fall in his popularity rating, from 52.5 to 46.4, during the first year of his term.
By comparison, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who preceded Leung, had only seen his popularity rating drop by 7 percent in his first year in office.
Professor Francis Lee Lap-fung, director of the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said Lam’s honeymoon period has ended for quite some time.
Although Lee could not say for sure exactly when that happened, he pointed out that Lam’s popularity rating has never been higher than 60 points since November last year, four months after her administration began functioning.
Lee noted that although Lam’s approaches to deal with problems in society have not been as controversial as Leung’s and her image less negative as well, the fact that the number of people approving of Lam is the same as that for Leung while many people are still highly dissatisfied indicates that the polarization of public opinions will continue.
Lee said the passage of the co-location bill for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and changes in the meeting rules of the Legislative Council, which happened over the past months, were not big enough issues to stir the Hong Kong community, which is why there have been no major protests launched against Lam so far.
Professor Li Pang-kwong, director of the Public Governance Programme at Lingnan University, also suspected Lam’s honeymoon period is nearly over unless she can announce policies with instant results before the end of the month.
Predicting that Lam’s polarity rating is likely to keep going down, Li said high public expectations at the beginning of her term have faded since she has been unable to fulfill some of the promises she had made during her election campaign, such as coming up with an effective housing policy.
Li pointed out that legislating Article 23 of the Basic Law will be the biggest challenge for Lam before her term ends in 2022 but doubted she is capable of pulling it off because it requires high political capital, which he said Lam may fail to obtain based on the level of public support for her.
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