CE, justice chief see net popularity drop to lowest level: poll

January 16, 2019 14:11
Both Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng saw their net popularity ratings fall to the lowest level since they assumed their respective posts. Photo: HKEJ

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has seen her net popularity not only turn negative once again but also drop to the lowest level since she took office about 18 months ago, a survey showed. 

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah’s net popularity has also plummeted to a record low since she assumed the post around a year ago. 

The survey, based on random phone interviews with 1,007 respondents, was conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Program (HKUPOP) between Jan. 7 and 11. 

That's about a month after the Department of Justice decided not to prosecute former chief executive Leung Chun-ying over his undeclared acceptance of HK$50 million from Australian engineering firm UGL, saying there was insufficient evidence, and after Cheng said her department did not seek independent legal advice regarding the UGL case. 

It also came after the Social Welfare Department announced on Jan. 7 that the eligible age for the elderly Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) will be raised from Feb. 1 to 65 from 60 at present, a move that sparked intense criticism from both pan-democratic and pro-establishment lawmakers. 

According to the HKUPOP survey, Lam’s popularity rating was 50.9 marks, down 5.5 from a similar survey conducted in mid-December, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported. 

The chief executive’s approval rate was 37 percent while her disapproval rate was 48 percent, giving her a net popularity of negative 11 percentage points, which was a significant decrease of 21 points compared to three weeks ago and a record low since she became Hong Kong’s leader. 

As for Cheng, her support rating dropped significantly by 6.7 points to 30.4 marks. Her approval rating was 11 percent while her disapproval rating was 59 percent, translating to net popularity of negative 48 percentage points, significantly down 22 points from the last poll.  

Cheng’s support rating and net popularity rating were both the lowest since she took office. 

With a disapproval rate higher than 50 percent, the justice chief fits into the category of “depressing performer” based on HKUPOP’s standards. 

On the other hand, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung had a support rating of 47.4 marks, the highest among the three secretaries of departments, while that for Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po stood at 40.2. 

Of the 13 bureau directors, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee continued to be the most popular top official with a net approval rating of positive 34 percentage points, followed by Secretary for the Civil Service Joshua Law Chi-kong and Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong, according to the latest survey.

Four of them were found to have negative net approval ratings. Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah had the worst rating, followed by Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung and Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung.

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