HKU POP SITE releases the latest survey result on political reformBack


Press Release on September 10, 2007
 

| Background | Latest Figures | Commentary | Detailed Findings (Seventh Public Opinion Survey on Political Reform) |

Background
 

In May 2007, 22 pan-democratic Legislative Councillors reached an agreement with the Public Opinion Programme (POP) at the University of Hong, whereby POP would conduct, roughly twice a month, regular opinion surveys to gauge people's views on universal suffrage of the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council. Moreover, the pan-democrats would also sponsor POP to set up an online "Political Reform Opinion Platform" (PROP) at the "Hong Kong People's Opinion Platform" (http://hkpop.hk) for the public to express their views on political reform. The platform is designed and operated independently by POP.

POP has already explained the operation and design of these surveys many times, we will briefly explain them again. According to research agreement reached between POP and the pan-democrats, every survey in this tracking series of political reform surveys would include two questions on people's support of the political reform proposals by the pan-democrats, one on their proposal for introducing universal suffrage to the CE election in 2012, and the other on introducing universal suffrage to Legco election in 2012. POP would decide on what other questions to ask. Moreover, POP would also be solely responsible for designing and analyzing all questions in all surveys.

After thorough consideration of the resources available, and the current situation of our society, other than repeating the questions on pan-democrats' proposals each time, we have decided to measure public opinion on the timetable of universal suffrage in every alternative survey, and to ask people once every two months their views on the sufficiency of conditions in Hong Kong for introducing universal suffrage. Apart from these 5 core questions, we will draw up ad hoc questions from time to time for feature discussions, depending on the talking points of the time. We will maintain this operation mode up to the end of political reform consultation period. In every press release which we would put out, we would explain in detail the objectives of introducing these questions and their results. We welcome everybody, especially professionals in the polling industry, to comment on the pros and cons of our survey design.

We are glad to report that the pan-democrats have hitherto given us great respect. They fully accepted our research autonomy and professional ethics, even when the findings are not favourable to them. Other than praising them for their open-mindedness, we also hope that other organizations including Government departments would adopt the same attitude to respect the research autonomy of academic institutions when commissioning opinion surveys, so that our civil society can advance to new heights.

Herewith the fieldwork periods and release dates of all surveys of the series:

  Serial number  Survey period   Sample size   Release date 
  1st survey  1-7/6/07   1,022   10/6/07 
  2nd survey  18-22/6/07   1,026   25/6/07 
  3rd survey  3-6/7/07   1,011   9/7/07 
  4th survey  23-26/7/07   1,007   30/7/07 
  5th survey  6-10/8/07   1,013   13/8/07 
  6th survey  20-24/8/07   1,010   27/8/07 
  7th survey  4-7/9/07   1,025   10/9/07 

The findings of the above surveys have been uploaded at the "Hong Kong People's Opinion Platform" (http://hkpop.hk) and the "HKU POP SITE" (http://hkupop.hku.hk). At the same time, POP welcome readers to express their views on the platform, while journalists are also welcome to email their questions to <[email protected]>. We will reply as soon as we can, and will upload the questions and answers to the "Press Corner" of the Platform for public reference. 

Latest Figures


The latest survey findings released by POP today have been weighted according to the provisional figures obtained from the Census and Statistics Department regarding the gender-age distribution of the Hong Kong population in mid-2007. Herewith the contact information for the latest survey:


 Date of survey   Sample base   Overall response rate   Sampling error of percentages* 
 4-7/9/07   1,025   66.0%   +/- 3% 
* "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.
 

Beginning in June 2007, POP has been measuring people's support for the pan-democrats' proposals on 2012 CE and LC elections for seven times. Please refer to the POP Site regarding the results of the first six surveys. Results of the latest survey are as follows:

  Date of survey  1-7/6   18-22/6   3-6/7   23-26/7   6-10/8   20-24/8   4-7/9   Latest change 
  Sample base  1,022   1,026   1,011   1,007   1,013   1,010   1,025   -- 
  Overall response rate  59.7%   65.1%   63.3%   64.9%   63.8%   65.2%   66.0%   -- 
  Sampling error of percentages (at 95% confidence level)*  +/-3%   +/-3%   +/-3%   +/-3%   +/-3%   +/-3%   +/-3%   -- 
  Regarding the Chief Executive election in 2012, it is proposed that 400 directly elected district councillors should be added to the existing 800-member Election Committee, adding up to a total of approximately 1,200 committee members. The number of subscribers required should be 50 regardless of the sector they belong to. The Chief Executive should ultimately be elected by universal suffrage. Do you support or oppose this proposal?**
  Support  52%   57%   49%   56%   56%   55%   59%   +4% 
  Half-half  22%   17%   20%   20%   20%   18%   14%   -4% 
  Oppose  17%   14%   20%   15%   17%   17%   16%   -1% 
  Don't know/hard to say  10%   13%   12%   9%   8%   10%   10%   -- 
  Regarding the Legislative Council election in 2012, it is proposed that a mixed election model would be adopted, whereby half of the seats would be returned by a "single seat single vote" simple majority system. The other half of the seats would be returned through elections by the "proportional representation system" so that each voter can cast two votes. Do you support or oppose this proposal?**
  Support  40%   45%   48%   48%   50%   50%   51%   +1% 
  Half-half  21%   18%   19%   18%   21%   16%   14%   -2% 
  Oppose  21%   15%   19%   21%   17%   16%   18%   +2% 
  Don't know/hard to say  19%   22%   14%   13%   13%   18%   17%   -1% 
* "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.
 

With respect to the pan-democrats' proposal regarding universal suffrage for CE in 2012, the question wordings used in this survey were: "It is proposed that 400 directly elected district councilors would be added to the existing 800-member Election Committee, adding up to a total of approximately 1,200 committee members. The number of subscribers required would be 50 regardless of the sector they belong to. The Chief Executive would finally be returned by universal suffrage." Results of our survey conducted in early September showed that this proposal attained a support rate of 59% versus 16% opposition. As for the pan-democrats' proposal regarding universal suffrage for Legislative Council in 2012, the question wordings used in this survey were: "It is proposed that a mixed election model would be adopted, whereby half of the seats would be returned by a "single seat single vote" simple majority system. The other half of the seats would be returned through elections by the "proportional representation system" so that each voter can cast two votes. Results of our survey conducted in early September showed that this proposal attained a support rate of 51%, versus 18% opposition. 

Besides, the survey gauged respondents' demands for universal suffrage for CE. Results are as follows:

  Date of survey  1-7/6   3-6/7   6-10/8   4-7/9   Latest change^ 
  Sample base  1,022   1,011   1,013   1,025   -- 
  Overall response rate  59.7%   63.3%   63.8%   66.0%   -- 
  Sampling error of percentages (at 95% confidence level)*  +/-3%   +/-3%   +/-3%   +/-3%   -- 
  Article 45 of Basic Law states that the method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the HKSAR and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage. Which year do you think the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage should be implemented?
  Sooner the better / 2007 or earlier  10%   10%   9%   12%   +3% 
  Between 2008 and 2012  43%   46%   42%   37%   -5% 
  Between 2013 and 2017  18%   16%   23%   22%   -1% 
  Between 2018 and 2022  4%   5%   4%   5%   +1% 
  2023 or later  5%   4%   3%   5%   +2% 
  Don't know/hard to say  20%   20%   19%   19%   -- 
  If only given the following choices, which year would you prefer implementing the selection of CE by universal suffrage?
  2012 (5 years later)  --   --   --   55%   -- 
  2017 (10 years later)  --   --   --   27%   -- 
  2022 (15 years later)  --   --   --   5%   -- 
  2027 (20 years later)  --   --   --   5%   -- 
  Don't know/hard to say  --   --   --   8%   -- 

* "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 frequency of this series of questions is different for different questions. Comparisons, if made, should be synchronized using the same intervals.

Our latest survey shows that 49% said the Chief Executive should be returned by universal suffrage by 2012, while 22% chose between 2013 and 2017. The percentages of people who opted "between 2018 and 2022", "2023 or later" and "don't know/hard to say" are 5%, 5% and 19% correspondingly. Meanwhile, if only given the choices of years 2012, 2017, 2022 and 2027, 55% would prefer implementing the selection of CE by universal suffrage in 2012, while 27% chose "2017". The percentages of people who opted for "2022", "2027" and "don't know/hard to say" are 5%, 5% and 8% correspondingly.

The survey further examined respondents' demands for universal suffrage for Legislative Council. Results are as follows:

  Date of survey  1-7/6   3-6/7   6-10/8   4-7/9   Latest change^ 
  Sample base  1,022   1,011   1,013   1,025   -- 
  Overall response rate  59.7%   63.3%   63.8%   66.0%   -- 
  Sampling error of percentages (at 95% confidence level)*  +/-3%   +/-3%   +/-3%   +/-3%   -- 
  Article 68 of Basic Law states that the method for forming the Legislative Council shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the election of all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage. Which year do you think the selection of Legislative Councillors by universal suffrage should be implemented?
  Sooner the better  9%   10%   9%   12%   +3% 
  2008 (or earlier)  21%   22%   19%   15%   -4% 
  Between 2009 and 2012  34%   33%   36%   37%   +1% 
  Between 2013 and 2016  8%   8%   10%   8%   -2% 
  Between 2017 and 2020  5%   5%   5%   9%   +4% 
  2021or later  3%   2%   3%   4%   +1% 
  Don't know/hard to say  19%   19%   18%   15%   -3% 
  If only given the following choices, which year would you prefer implementing the selection of Legislative Councillors by universal suffrage?
  2012 (5 years later)  --   --   --   64%   -- 
  2016 (9 years later)  --   --   --   17%   -- 
  2020 (13 years later)  --   --   --   6%   -- 
  2024 (17 years later)  --   --   --   2%   -- 
  2028 (21 years later)  --   --   --   4%   -- 
  Don't know/hard to say  --   --   --   8%   -- 

* "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 frequency of this series of questions is different for different questions. Comparisons, if made, should be synchronized using the same intervals.


Regarding the return of Legislative Councillors by universal suffrage, 27% said it should be implemented by 2008, while 37% chose "between 2009 to 2012". The percentages of people who opted for "between 2013 to 2016", "between 2017 to 2020", "2021 or later" and "don't know/hard to say" are 8%, 9%, 4% and 15% correspondingly. Meanwhile, if only given the choices of years 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024 and 2028, 64% would prefer implementing the selection of Legislative Councillors by universal suffrage in 2012, while 17% chose "2016". The percentages of people who opted for "2020", "2024", "2028" and "don't know/hard to say" are 6%, 2%, 4% and 8% correspondingly.

Finally, the survey asked people's views on whether or not there should be a thorough debate on universal suffrage in the coming District Council elections in November and Legislative Council by-election in Hong Kong Island geographical constituency in December, the results is as follows:

  It is proposed that a debate about the issue of universal suffrage should be held during the coming District Council elections in November and Legislative Council by-election in Hong Kong Island geographical constituency in December. Do you support or oppose this proposal?*
 Support   67%   Half-half   13%   Oppose   12%   Don't know/Hard to say   8% 
* Collapsed from a 5-point scale.

Survey findings showed that 67% supported the proposal of debating the issue of universal suffrage during the coming District Council elections in November and Legislative Council by-election in Hong Kong Island geographical constituency in December, while 12% held the opposite view.


Commentary


Regarding the questionnaire design of the latest survey, Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme, explained, "After releasing the findings of our 5th survey, there were discussions among journalists and community members on how to interpret and categorize different answer options regarding the timetable of universal suffrage. In this survey, other than keeping the two questions we have been using, we have also experimented two new questions in order to resolve this issue empirically. Survey findings revealed that if we continued to use our more open-ended question, 49% of the respondents said CE should be returned by universal suffrage by 2012 the latest. But if respondents were only given limited choices of 2012, 2017, 2022 and 2027, 55% would prefer 2012. As for LC election, 64% of the respondents said universal suffrage should be implemented by 2012 if an open-ended question was used. However, if only limited choices of years 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024 and 2028 were offered, the choice of 2012 also remained at 64%. This shows that changing the answer items would not change the results too much. POP does not intend to change the two core questions regarding the timetable of universal suffrage for the time being."

As for the pan-democrats' proposals, Robert Chung explained, "In the latest survey, people's support of the pan-democrats' proposal on 2012 CE election is 59%, which is 4 percentage points higher than that two weeks ago. People's support of the pan-democrats' proposal on 2012 Legco election is 51%, up by 1 percentage point. Both support rates are quite stable. As for how many people among those who did not express support to the pan-democrats' proposals would finally change their mind if there were no better choices, we have already examined this issue in our last survey so we will not go into that."

As to whether there should be a thorough debate on universal suffrage in the coming District Council elections in November and the Hong Kong Island Legislative Council by-election in December, Robert Chung analyzed, "As community members are beginning to discuss whether or not to use the forthcoming District Council elections in November and the Hong Kong Island Legislative Council by-election in December as platforms for extensive debates on universal suffrage, we have deliberately added one question to gauge people's opinion. The result shows that 67% support the proposition, while 12% oppose. Public opinion seems quite clear."

In the coming few months, POP will continue to conduct frequent surveys on political reform, as well as to collect public opinion through the online "Hong Kong People's Opinion Platform" (http://hkpop.hk). Robert Chung calls on all journalists and members of the public to make good use of the platform in order to show the power of civil society. Members of the general public can become registered members of the platform at any time, and then make free submissions. Journalists, on the other hand, can raise questions to us at any time, by sending emails to <[email protected]>. We will reply as soon as possible, and upload all questions and answers to the platform at appropriate times, to enhance our collective wisdom. As for our earlier forecast that we would design a comprehensive model questionnaire on political reform, we apologize that our plan has been delayed, partly because of the lack of public debate on the matter, and partly because of the sudden need to turn on our Legco by-election studies.

 

| Background | Latest Figures | Commentary | Detailed Findings (Seventh Public Opinion Survey on Political Reform) |