POP Express Vol. 4 From the Editor - Return of Sovereignty and Selection of the HKSAR Chief ExecutiveBack

December 1996

In less than 200 days, Hong Kong will become a Special Administrative Region under China. According to surveys reported in this POP Express, people have become more optimistic about the transition. Tung Chee-hwa's record popularity of 70.1 marks upon his election to become Chief Executive, 66% of respondents to our recent poll demonstrated confidence in a smooth transition, 37% in our year-end poll believed that Hong Kong will become better in 1997, even the problematic Provisional Legislature appears to be gaining public acceptance... All these findings are, no doubt, a boost to those who waited heartily for the return of Hong Kong to the motherland.


Those with reservations about the change of sovereignty might pick on polls which demonstrated people's lack of faith in the Chinese government (at 25%), Anson Chan's higher popularity than Tung Chee-hwa, and perhaps the below-passing popularity ratings of the Top Ten HKSAR Preparatory Committee members.


To us, these are all pseudo-questions. As social scientists, we are only concerned with the validity of the research design, the accuracy and representativeness of the research data, and the comprehensiveness of the interpretations. No single piece of research can answer all questions. It would be up to policy-makers to put research data to their proper use.


The crave for data before and after the selection of the Chief Executive has stimulated the appearance of many opinion surveys. On the professional level, a number of academic institutions have become key producers of opinion data, as predicted by the editor two years ago in The Other Hong Kong Report 1994. Such organisations will, in the long run, become core units of opinion research in Hong Kong, setting their own standards. On the non-professional level, many sub-standard surveys have also appeared and escaped the criticism of media scholars and statisticians. These so-called surveys made their first appearance in the latter half of 1995, and flourished in 1996. The selection of the Chief Executive was a catalyst for their further growth. This is a most worrying phenomenon for all serious researchers, and the sooner they go away, the better.


Chung Ting-yiu Robert