HK police have lost public support, survey finds

November 06, 2019 14:08
HKPORI president and chief executive Robert Chung (2nd right) called on the police to exercise restraint and protesters to refrain from violence during a presentation of the institute's latest survey results on Tuesday. Photo: HKEJ

The Hong Kong Police Force, once considered Asia's finest, has lost the confidence and support of the majority of the people, a recent survey finds.

Nearly seven in 10 Hong Kong citizens believe the police have acted unprofessionally by making indiscriminate arrests and losing self-control when dealing with recent anti-government protests, according to the survey conducted by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI).

The latest of the rolling "We Hongkongers" survey was based on random telephone interviews of 519 Hong Kong residents between Oct. 30 and Nov. 1.

As regards the District Council elections scheduled for Nov. 24, 70.8 percent of the respondents opposed postponing the polls, up one percentage point from a similar survey conducted in mid-October.

The survey also found that 64.3 percent supported the idea that Hongkongers should seek help from the international community if the government fails to protect human rights in the city, up three points.

Robert Chung Ting-yiu, president and chief executive of the HKPORI, which spun off from the Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong (HKUPOP) earlier this year, said the police force has lost public support and completely deviated from its good practices after the Service Quality Wing was set up in 1994.

He urged the police force to exercise restraint.

The veteran pollster said the loss of confidence in the force and the officers' loss of self-control have led to an escalation of civil violence, warning that people beating up each other may later be the source of terrorism.

Chung also suggested that all officers, including members of the Special Tactical Contingent, should clearly display their identification on the field as part of measures to raise the people's trust in the police force.

Police should also refrain from disguising as demonstrators and let the public pass judgement on the demonstrators without ambiguity, he said.

He also called on protesters to stop physical confrontations and concentrate on pressing their demands through elections and non-violent means in order to strive for international support.

The HKPORI also released on Tuesday the results of its survey on people’s appraisal of the government’s performance in five specific policy areas: handling its relation with the central government, protecting human rights and freedom, maintaining economic prosperity, pushing for democratic development, and improving people’s livelihood.

It found that the net satisfaction rates on all the five areas were negative, with the last area getting negative 57 percentage points, the least satisfactory rate.

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