Carrie Lam and Teresa Cheng have become penny stocks

October 09, 2019 12:02
Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng have seen their popularity ratings plunge to the lowest since they took office amid the turmoil. Photo: Reuters/HKEJ

Things could not be worse for Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah.

The detested duo, who are being blamed for unleashing the chain of events leading to the current political crisis, have seen their popularity plunge to the lowest since they took office.

According to the latest Public Opinion Program survey of the Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI), Lam's popularity rating now stands at 22.3 marks (Sept. 30 to Oct. 3), down from 24.9 in Sept. 16 to 19 and from 24.6 in Aug. 15 to 20. Her approval rate is 15 percent, and her disapproval rate 80 percent, giving her a net popularity of negative 65 percentage points. That's a significant drop of 8 percentage points from the last survey.

The justice chief's rating is even worse. She scored only 14.7 marks, down from 17.7 in the last poll.

Those who support Cheng fell to only 7 percent, from 11 percent in August – that's pretty bad; her boss at least has 15 percent of the 1,000 respondents on her side. Those who disapprove of Cheng rose to 75 percent, giving her a net approval rating of negative 69 percent, a drop of 10 percent from the last survey, but at least better than what Lam got.

That Lam's popularity continues to plumb the depths can be attributed, of course, to the current turmoil. 

Most people are now convinced that her government is basically inutile in the face of four months of violence and unrest, sparked by the much-reviled extradition law, which she finally decided to scrap after all hell had broken loose.

But apparently, her government has not seen the worse in terms of popularity ratings. The latest survey was taken before she implemented a ban on facial masks during rallies by invoking an emergency law opposed by 70 percent of the respondents.

PORI founder Robert Chung Ting-yiu said he felt sad about the findings because the popularity figures have lost their meaning as far as guidance for governance is concerned.

Hong Kong, he said, is now in a lan chao (totally messed up) situation, and the new anti-mask law is only adding fuel to the fire and deepening the crisis.

If Lam and Cheng were tradeable shares, they can only be described as penny stocks whose value has dropped at least 80 percent this year.

They make Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, still and always unpopular, look good. Chan has a support rating of 26.9 marks, down only 1.1 from the last survey. His approval rate is 17 percent and disapproval rate 59 percent, giving him a net popularity of negative 42 percentage points, still a failing grade.

Apart from the net popularity of Chan, the support rating and net popularity of all the department secretaries have registered record lows since they took office.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung has a support rating of 31.8 marks, the highest rating among the three department secretaries. But with an approval rate of 18 percent and a disapproval rate of 42 percent, his net popularity is still a negative 24 percentage points.

Among the principal officials, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu was the worst with a score of negative 53 marks, followed by Secretary for Education Kelvin Yeung Yun-hung, who saw a substantial fall of 18 points to a negative 50.

Now, if Beijing were a stock market player, even a cursory reading of these numbers would lead to an inevitable conclusion. All these guys have become penny stocks: they should be suspended from trading or delisted.

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EJ Insight writer