HKU POP SITE releases findings of an instant poll on the BudgetBack


Press Release on March 11, 2004
 

The Public Opinion Programme (POP) at the University of Hong Kong today releases on schedule via the "HKU POP SITE" (http://hkupop.hku.hk) an instant survey on people's instant reactions towards the Budget, including the latest figures on the popularity of CE Tung Chee-hwa, CS Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and FS Henry Tang Ying-yen. In the past many years, POP has conducted instant polls after the head of the government delivered his Policy Address, or after the Financial Secretary delivered his Budget Speech. Such instant polls, which measure people's instant reaction to the policies, would be followed weeks later by our follow-up surveys, which measure people's more matured reaction. We believe this is a better way to study public opinion on these issues. Regarding the change of the popularity of Tung and the two Secretaries after the announcement of the Budget, the figures are summarized as follows:

 
 Date of survey 26-29/1 2-4/2 20-23/2 1-3/3 10/3 Latest change
 Sample base 1,056 1,031 1,045 1,031 1,023 --
 Overall response rate 65.4% 63.5% 65.3% 63.7% 64.7% --
 Sampling error of ratings(at 95% conf. level)* +/- 1.4 +/- 1.4 +/- 1.4 +/- 1.4 +/- 1.2 --
 Sampling error of percentages (at 95% conf. level)* +/- 3% +/- 3% +/- 3% +/- 3% +/- 3% --
 Support rating of CH Tung 43.8 45.4 44.9 45.6 45.0 -0.6
 Vote of confidence in CH Tung 16% 15% 16% 19% 13% -6%
 Vote of no confidence in CH Tung 63% 64% 61% 62% 68% +6%
 Support rating of Donald Tsang -- 64.9 -- 62.9 64.9 +2.0
 Support rating of Henry Tang -- 57.6 -- 57.4 59.9 +2.5

* "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.

 

The install poll conducted last night showed that, after FS Henry Tang announced his Budget, his latest rating registered was 59.9 marks. Meanwhile, Tung and Donald Tsang scored 45.0 and 64.9 marks respectively. Results also revealed that 68% of the respondents did not support Tung as the Chief Executive, whereas 13% did.

 

Regarding the popularity figures, Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme, analyzed: "The Budget usually has a positive effect on the popularity of the officials and the government, and the significant increases in Henry Tang and Donald Tsang's ratings clearly bore this out. However, Tung's rating and support rate have both dropped, probably due to what he said recently during the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The positive effect of the Budget fails to offset the negative effect brought by Tung's remarks."

 

With respect to people's satisfaction with this year's Budget, the figures are summarized below:

 
 Date of survey Sub-sample base# Overall response rate Sampling error of %* Appraisal of Budget: Satisfaction rate** Appraisal of Budget: Half-half Appraisal of Budget: Dissatisfaction rate **
 10/3/04 395 64.7% +/- 5% 37% 33% 12%
 5/3/03 495 71.4% +/- 4% 20% 23% 50%
 6/3/02 539 59.9% +/- 4% 47% 23% 17%
 7-8/3/01 263 67.1% +/- 6% 57% 25% 13%
 8/3/00 739 56.4% +/- 4% 70% 12% 4%
 3/3/99 598 62.1% +/- 4% 46% 27% 10%
 18/2/98 638 54.7% +/- 4% 55% 20% 7%

* "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.
# Excluding respondents who said they would not answer because they did not know the content of the policy address. Because of the smaller sample size, the sampling error has increased accordingly.

 

After excluding those respondents who said they had not heard of the Budget, this year's instant poll showed that 37% were satisfied with it, 12% were dissatisfied and 33% said "half-half". Because many of the respondents said they had not heard of the Budget during the instant poll, the valid sub-sample of this item was smaller than that for other questions. The sampling error for this question has increased accordingly. With respect to people's specific reactions towards the contents of this year's Budget, relevant findings are summarized below:

 
 Date of survey 10/3/04
 Sample base 1,023
 Overall response rate 64.7%
 Sampling error of percentages (at 95% conf. level)* +/- 3%
  Yes No Don't know / Hard to say Total
 The Financial Secretary said that the economic outlook for 2004 was rather bullish, and a steady growth was envisaged for the subsequent four years. Do you agree with what he said? 47% 35% 19% 100%
 The Financial Secretary said his principle was "market leads and government facilitates". Do you agree to this principle? 60% 15% 24% 100%
 The Financial Secretary said that he proposed no further increases in salaries tax, profits tax or any other taxes, and there would be no tax reductions or rates adjustments either. Do you agree to these measures? 79% 14% 7% 100%
 The Financial Secretary proposed the Government to issue bonds at value not exceeding $20 billions in 2004-05, in order to raise funds and invest in capital projects. Do you agree to this proposal? 66% 14% 19% 100%

* "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.

 

In terms of Henry Tang's analysis of Hong Kong's economy, of the 1,023 respondents, 47% agreed with him that "the economic outlook for 2004 was rather bullish, and a steady growth was envisaged for the subsequent four years", whereas 35% disagreed. Besides, 60% agreed Tang's principle of "market leads and government facilitates", as contrast to 15% who held the opposite view. As regards the specific proposals suggested in the Budget, 79% welcomed the proposed measures of "no tax increases, no tax reductions and no rates adjustments", whilst 14% did not. As for Tang's suggestion for the Government to issue bonds at value not exceeding $20 billions in 2004-05, in order to raise funds and invest in capital projects, 66% agreed with such proposal, whereas 14% disagreed.

 

With respect to the government's strategy in monetary arrangement, together with other relevant issues, the figures are summarized below:

 
 Date of survey 18/2/98 8/3/00 7-8/3/01 6/3/02 5/3/03 10/3/04 Latest change
 Sample base 804 856 502 1,041 1,047 1,023 --
 Overall response rate 54.7% 56.4% 67.1% 59.9% 71.4% 64.7% --
 Sampling error of percentages (at 95% conf. level)* +/- 4% +/- 3% +/- 4% +/- 3% +/- 3% +/- 3% --
 Satisfaction rate with the government's strategy in monetary arrangement** 42% 60% 45% 26% 12% 18% +6%
 Dissatisfaction rate with the government's strategy in monetary arrangement** 13% 9% 14% 21% 45% 29% -16%
 Perceived that the government could achieve consolidated and operating balances by year X^ -- -- -- 31% 17% 39% +22%
 Perceived that the government could not achieve consolidated and operating balances by year X ^ -- -- -- 38% 62% 36% -26%
 Perceived the tax system in Hong Kong to be fair ** -- -- -- 55% 51% 58% +7%
 Perceived the tax system in Hong Kong to be unfair** -- -- -- 29% 33% 31% -2%
 Perceived the distribution of wealth in Hong Kong to be reasonable** -- -- -- 25% 19% 22% +3%
 Perceived the distribution of wealth in Hong Kong to be unreasonable**** -- -- -- 52% 60% 62% +2%

* "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.
^ Different wordings were used in this question for the Budget instant polls of 2002, 2003 and 2004. The corresponding questions were: "The Financial Secretary reported the government had operating deficits for four consecutive years, and his target was to achieve consolidated and operating balances by 2006/07. Do you think the government can achieve this?" (2002); "The Financial Secretary said that he would keep his target set last year, which was to achieve consolidated and operating balances by 2006/07. Do you think the government can achieve this?" (2003); and "The Financial Secretary said that his target was to achieve consolidated and operating balances by 2008/09, meaning that the target set by the former Financial Secretary would be deferred by two years. Do you think the government can achieve this?" (2004).

 

Findings showed that 18% of the respondents were satisfied with the government's strategy in monetary arrangement, whereas 29% were dissatisfied. Meanwhile, when asked if they thought the government could achieve consolidated and operating balances by 2008/09, 39% believed that the government could do so, 36% took the opposite view. On the other hand, 58% of the respondents considered Hong Kong's tax system to be fair, 31% considered it unfair. As for the distribution of wealth in Hong Kong, 22% considered the distribution reasonable, whereas 62% considered it unreasonable.

 

Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme, analyzed again: "All in all, people's reaction to this year's Budget is mediocre. It is not as good as the first Budget prepared by Antony Leung Kam-chung, but far better than his second Budget. People generally welcome Henry Tang's measures of no increase and no reduction in taxes, as well as his proposal to issue bonds, they are also quite supportive of the principle of "market leads and government facilitates". However, people are not very confident that the government could balance its book by 2008/09. Besides, most people perceive Hong Kong's tax system to be fair, but consider the distribution of wealth unreasonable."

 

POP's normal practice is to release the results of our regular surveys every Tuesday at 2 pm via our POP Site, except during public holidays, each time with a forecast of the items to be released in the forthcoming week. We will review and adjust this operation regularly. According to this schedule, the date and time of our next release will be March 16, 2004, Tuesday, at 2 pm, the latest results of people's satisfaction with the current social conditions will be released.

 

Shall anyone have any question regarding the research design of the surveys published in the POP Site, 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 us at <[email protected]>. The Director of Public Opinion Programme would answer them as soon as possible. We will keep such an arrangement under constant review, suggestions most welcome. Please note that everything carried in the POP Site does not represent the stand of the University of Hong Kong. Dr Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme, is responsible for everything posted herewith, except for column articles which represent the stand of their authors.