Support dips for political reform plan as vote draws near

June 08, 2015 10:39
With Beijing ruling out any concessions on the electoral package, opinions have hardened among Hong Kong people. Photo: AFP

Support for the government's political reform proposal has dipped as Beijing has taken a hardline stance and quashed hopes for any change in the framework for the 2017 chief executive election, according to an opinion poll.

A poll conducted by Lingnan University on behalf of the Concern Group for Public Opinion on Constitutional Development also found that the gap between the levels of support and opposition to the electoral package has shrunk, Apple Daily reported.

The poll showed that 49.4 percent of people now expect lawmakers to pass the reform plan despite its shortcomings. The figure marks a decline of 1.4 percentage points compared to those who expressed a similar opinion in a previous survey undertaken between April 27 and May 2.

Meanwhile, 42.2 percent of the respondents opposed the plan, up 0.5 percentage point from the previous survey, according to the report.

The latest poll was conducted from May 31 to June 5, taking in the responses of more than 1,000 people.

About 91.5 percent of those supporting the pro-establishment camp said they wanted to see the plan passed, while 76.1 percent of those from the pan-democratic camp said they would like the bill to be vetoed.

About 45 percent said they see just a "very small" chance of the package being passed, up 13.7 percentage points compared to the previous poll.

The poll is the last of its kind by the group before the Legislative Council votes on the reform plan on June 17.

After the previous poll, the group had said that the overall support rate could even hit 80.6 percent if three conditions were met -- namely the addition of a blank vote option, abolition of corporate votes, and a promise by Beijing that the chief executive election process would be improved after 2017.

However, it now looks like Hongkongers are not as supportive as they were a month ago as all the support rates recorded a drop. The group attributed it to the hardline stance shown by Beijing officials recently.

Following a meeting in Shenzhen on May 31 with a group of Hong Kong lawmakers, Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei said the framework announced by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on August 31 last year would be applicable to every Hong Kong chief executive election from 2017 onwards.

There is no question of a change in the electoral framework before it is implemented, he said.

Democratic Party member Fred Li Wah-ming, one of the leaders of the Concern Group for Public Opinion on Constitutional Development, said Li’s remarks would make the pan-democratic legislators more determined to vote down the reform package.

Another leader Shih Wing-ching, who is co-founder of Centaline Property Agency, said the result of the poll shows people's opinions are hardening.

There could even be street protests even if the political reform plan is passed by Legco, he said, pointing to the need for a middle path.

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