HKUPOP chief vows fresh start via new institute

April 24, 2019 16:50
HKU dean of social sciences Prof. William Hayward and the university’s Public Opinion Progamme director Dr Robert Chung (R) shake hands during a press conference on Tuesday. Chung is ending a three-decade-long association with HKU. Photo: HKEJ

Veteran pollster Dr. Robert Chung Ting-yiu promised on Tuesday that he will continue his public opinion surveys and other research work despite breaking away from the University of Hong Kong.

The Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong (HKUPOP) will see its work carried under a different name as the agency is being spun off from the university and will function as an independent organization.

The new institute will carry on with the research work that was done by HKUPOP for the past 28 years, Chung said, adding he will manage to secure the funding necessary for the operation.

Earlier in the day, HKU’s faculty of social sciences announced that poll unit HKUPOP, of which Chung is the director, will be disbanded on June 30.

Starting from July 1, HKUPOP would be spun off into an independent organization called the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI), which will undertake work similar to what HKUPOP has been doing, according to the announcement.

Established in 1991, HKUPOP has been a self-financed unit that functioned under the umbrella of the University of Hong Kong. It has conducted a wide range of research as well as developed significant expertise in polling and survey methodology.

Chung noted that he passed HKU's retirement age of 60.

Last year he held discussions with dean of the faculty of social sciences, Professor William Hayward, about the future of HKUPOP.

It was agreed that the best way to maintain the various key features of HKUPOP’s work is to set up PORI to take over the mission of HKUPOP.

Speaking at a press conference, which was also attended by Hayward, Chung said on Tuesday that bears no grudge or anger, and that he also has no regrets.

The HKUPOP director admitted that PORI will need HK$6 million for its operation in the first year, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The new institute will try to raise the resources through crowdfunding, media reports have said.

Once PORI’s operation matures, it will get involved in multiple aspects, including public opinion surveys, market research, policy, electronic voting, social engagement, grouping and deliberation.

Asked if the new institute will still conduct regular public surveys on topics such as Hong Kong chief executive’s performance, government's popularity and Beijing's June 4, 1989 incident, like what HKUPOP has been doing, Chung said it will as long as it gets the needed financial support.

Chung stressed that he will not yield to anything or anyone for the sake of money, pointing out that integrity and quality have always been the hallmarks of HKUPOP.

In other comments, the pollster revealed that some academics have promised to offer help during the transition period as PORI recruits staff.

Hayward, meanwhile, dismissed talk that HKU deliberately chose not to expend Chung’s tenure as it wanted the latter out from the university.

As for the disbanding of HKUPOP, it has been always understood that such move by the university was just a matter of time, he said.

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