HK-Macau comparative study indicates Macau's CE and government are more on the people's sideBack

Press Release on October 17, 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 being the main foci. All studies 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 mechanism to conduct scientific 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. The first part of the findings on Macau people's views on Article 23 of the Basic Law has been released some time ago. The second part of the findings, herewith released, focuses on the popularity of Macau SAR Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah, and Macau people's satisfaction with the consultation mechanism and policy direction of the Macau SAR Government. This survey was conducted by random telephone surveys executed by interviewers, which successfully interviewed 565 Macau citizens of age 18 or above.


For easy comparison of the public sentiments between Hong Kong and Macau, figures from a Hong Kong survey conducted more or less over the same period have been listed side by side. However, because the findings of that survey might have been affected by the "July 1 Demonstration", figures from an earlier survey have also been included. Figures for people's appraisal of the performance of the governments are summarized as follows:

  Macau Survey HK Surveys  
 Date of survey 21-25/8 15-20/5 14-16/7
 Sample base 565 1,067 1,073
 Overall response rate 64.1% 65.1% 69.2%
 Sampling error of percentages (at 95% conf. level)* +/- 4% +/- 3% +/- 3%
 Overall performance: Satisfaction rate** 73% 18% 11%
 Overall performance: Dissatisfaction rate ** 2% 53% 68%
 Maintaining economic prosperity: Satisfaction rate** 67% 13% 9%
 Maintaining economic prosperity: Dissatisfaction rate ** 7% 65% 75%
 Improving people's livelihood: Satisfaction rate** 54% 17% 12%
 Improving people's livelihood: Dissatisfaction rate** 9% 55% 67%
 Protecting human rights and freedom: Satisfaction rate** 51% 36% 23%
 Protecting human rights and freedom: Dissatisfaction rate** 8% 37% 56%
 Pace of democratic development: Satisfaction rate** 42% 27% 17%
 Pace of democratic development: Dissatisfaction rate ** 9% 42% 59%
 Performance of Macau law enforcement departments (including the Judicial Police): Satisfaction rate** 50% -- --
 Performance of Macau law enforcement departments (including the Judicial Police): Dissatisfaction rate** 15% -- --

* "95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified.
** Collapsed from a 5-point scale.


Findings showed that 73% of the Macau people were satisfied with the performance of the Macau SAR Government in general, 62 percentage points higher than the corresponding figure for the Hong Kong SAR Government registered in mid-July, and 55 percentage points higher than that in mid-May.


Specifically, 67% of Macau people were satisfied with their government's performance in maintaining economic prosperity. Improving people's livelihood came second, with a satisfaction rate of 54%. The protection of human rights and freedom, and the pace of democratic development followed next, with satisfaction rates of 51% and 42% respectively. The satisfaction rate for the performance of the law enforcement departments was 50%.


Results also revealed that 66% of Macau people perceived the policies of the Macau SAR Government to be in line with public opinion. However, 56% thought that consultation channels offered by their government were inadequate. Besides, 36% believed that the Macau Legislative Assembly could represent their views, whereas 32% held the opposite view.


With respect to the popularity of the Chief Executives, Macau's CE Edmund Ho obviously enjoyed a great deal of public support. With a rating of 77.3 marks, Ho was more than 30 marks ahead of Hong Kong's CE Tung Chee-hwa. Moreover, if a general election of the Chief Executive were to be held the following day, 80% of Macau people would support Ho, almost 60 percentage points more than the current support rate of Tung. Detailed figures are summarized as follows:

  Macau Survey HK Surveys
 Date of survey 21-25/8 15-20/5 14-16/7 1-2/10
 Sample base 565 1,067 1,073 1,052
 Overall response rate 64.1% 65.1% 69.2% 65.7%
 Sampling error of ratings (at 95% conf. level)* +/-1.2 +/-1.4 +/-1.4 +/-1.2
 Sampling error of percentages (at 95% conf. level)* +/- 4% +/- 3% +/- 3% +/- 3%
 Support rating of Chief Executive 77.3 44.2 38.1 45.5
 Vote of confidence in Chief Executive 80% -- 12% 22%
 Vote of no-confidence in Chief Executive 3% -- 72% 62%

* "95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified.


Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme, made the following comments on these findings: "Hong Kong and Macau are different, in terms of historical and cultural heritage. Needless to say, the two peoples have very different political demands. However, my observation over the years, coupled with such enormous differences in our survey findings, clearly indicates that the policy direction of Macau's CE and SARG is much more in line with what people wants, than that of their Hong Kong counterparts. Nevertheless, the Macau government should note that over half of the Macau people considered government consultation channels inadequate. In case of a surge in people's political demand, the Macau government might not be able to handle it."


Dr Fong Man-tat, representing the Union For Construction Of Macau, observed: "Aside from the deficiency of consultation channels, the crucial issue lies in the Macau SARG's lack of initiative to consult the public proactively, to hear people's voice, and to set priorities according to people's concerns." Fong suggested the Macau SARG to introduce "consultation legislation", whereby all important policy decisions, and those affecting people's livelihood, must go through an official consultation process. Fong believed that the Macau government should focus its reform on the fundamental functions of the administration, "from 'governing the community' to 'serving the community', while instilling the idea of 'serving the community' among civil servants." Fong also suggested the Macau SARG to start reforming the indirect elections of the Legislative Assembly, so that representatives of the Functional Constituencies can be elected by "one-person-one-vote", in order to strengthen the mandate of the Macau Legislative Assembly.


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.