Survey indicates that Macau people look forward to open consultations on legislation according to Article 23 of the Basic Law, but they do not perceive any conflict between "stability and prosperity" and "democracy and freedom"Back

Press Release on September 25, 2003

Since 1992, the Public Opinion Programme (POP) at the University of Hong Kong has been conducting studies in Macau, in order to map its changing public sentiment. A total of 9 surveys have been completed in the past 10 years, with election exit polls and public opinion surveys as major research items. All surveys are conducted independently by the POP research team, unaffected by any government or sponsor.


After the handovers of Hong Kong and Macau, the public mood of the two societies have come closer and closer. POP and the Union For Construction Of Macau have recently reached an agreement to embark on a "Joint Project on Regular Opinion Surveys in Macau", initially for one year, which aims at establishing in Macau a scientific mechanism to conduct opinion surveys, reinforcing the channels for collecting public opinion, fostering the development of opinion surveys in Macau, as well as providing scientific opinion data for comparative studies between Hong Kong and Macau.


The first survey of this joint project was conducted in Macau between August 21 and 25, 2003, part of which was to gauge Macau people's views on Article 23 of the Basic Law. The findings are released today. This survey was conducted by random telephone surveys executed by interviewers, which successfully interviewed 565 Macau citizens of age 18 or above, with an overall response rate of 64.1%. At 95% confidence level, the sampling error of all percentages is less than plus/minus 4 percentage points.


Results showed that 85% of the Macau people interviewed admitted that their knowledge of Basic Law Article 23 was insufficient, whereas only 9% said they knew it well. Besides, 64% and 33% respectively thought Article 23 would have little influence on themselves and their next generation. Meanwhile, among the 30% of respondents who were members of some organizations, only a quarter of them said their organization leaders could represent their views.


In terms of principle, 49%, 46% and 43% correspondingly believed "benefit of the community as a whole", "human rights" and "personal freedom" were of the highest importance. "National security" and "press freedom" accounted for 39% and 31% respectively. However, 48% perceived no contradiction between "stability and prosperity" and "democracy and freedom", as opposed to 36% who held the opposite view. As for the consultation channels, 50% of the respondents considered conducting public opinion surveys to be most important, followed by hosting public consultation forums, inviting submissions from the public, and then publication of public consultative documents.


Findings also revealed that, if the Macau SAR Government dismissed people's opinion regarding the legislation of Basic Law Article 23, 41% would consider taking to the streets, whilst 42% would not. In case the final legislation was against people's will, 36% said they would accept the reality, 34% would continue to struggle within the law, while 13% would resort to civil disobedience.


Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme, made the following comments on these findings: "Learning from the Hong Kong lesson, the Macau SARG should pay more attention to the public sentiment during the legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law. There will be less resistance, as CE Edmund Ho and Macau SARG use to enjoy significant public support. Nevertheless, our study clearly shows that Macau people do want open and public consultation, and do not want to rely on organization leaders to transmit their views."


Dr Fong Man-tat, representing the Union For Construction Of Macau, observed: "Exactly how the Macau SARG could satisfy both the needs of the Macau people and the Central Government would be a test of the government's ability." Fong believed that Hong Kong SARG's main failure was that it failed to address the public's concern. The Macau government should, therefore, concentrate on eliminating the worries of the Macau people. Fong suggested that the Macau government should conduct mult-channel open consultations, including the publication of consultative documents, inviting people to make submissions, hosting open forums, holding open meetings with organization members, and conducting public opinion surveys.


Contact information and detailed figures of this survey have been published at the POP Site. Shall anyone have any question regarding the research design of the survey, members of the POP Team will be happy to answer them, but we will not further comment on the findings. Shall any person or journalist have any other questions, please email them to <[email protected]> or <[email protected]>. We would answer them as soon as possible. Please note that everything carried in the POP Site does not represent the stand of the University of Hong Kong.