The Public Opinion Programme at the University of Hong Kong interviewed 1,017 Hong Kong people on 12-14 March by means of a random telephone survey conducted by real interviewers, more than half of the sample was asked for their opinion on this year's Budget. The survey finds that people's immediate reaction to John Tsang's maiden Budget was quite positive on the first day, it went up further on the second day, and then back to the first day level again in our follow-up survey. Compared to previous figures registered in our Budget follow-up surveys, people's satisfaction level has reached record high this year, even higher than that registered in 2000 for Donald Tsang's Budget. In general, our follow-up survey this year has found although people's support for FS's ideas and proposals has dropped a bit, the support rates are all above 60%. As for the broader issues of tax system and distribution of wealth, people's opinion has remained quite stable. The sampling error of all percentages is between +/-2 to 4 percentage points at 95% confidence level, while the sampling error of rating figures is +/-1.4. The response rate of the survey is 66%.
Points to note:
* The address of the "HKU POP SITE" is http://hkupop.hku.hk, journalists can check out the details of the survey there.
* The sample size of this survey is 1,017 successful interviews, not 1,017 x 65.8% response rate. In the past, many media made this mistake.
* The maximum sampling error of all percentages is below +/-2 to 4 percentage points at 95% confidence level, while the sampling error of rating figures is +/-1.4. "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. When quoting these figures, journalists can state "sampling error of various ratings not more than +/-1.4 and sampling error of percentages not more than +/-4% at 95% confidence level".
* When quoting percentages of this survey, journalists should refrain from reporting decimal places, but when quoting the rating figures, one decimal place can be used, in order to match the precision level of the figures.
* The data of this survey is collected by means of random telephone interviews conducted by real interviewers, not by any interactive voice system (IVS). If a research organization uses "computerized random telephone survey" to camouflage its IVS operation, it should be considered unprofessional.
Since 1992, HKUPOP has already been conducting Policy Address instant surveys every year. From 1998 onwards, we expanded our instant surveys to cover the Budget Talks. Starting from 2008, we further enhanced our operation by splitting up our usual exercise into two rounds. In our first survey, we measure people's overall appraisal of the Budget, their rating of the Budget, their change in confidence towards Hong Kong's future, and the Financial Secretary's popularity. In our second survey, we focus on people's reactions towards major government proposals, their satisfaction with the government's fiscal policies, and other relevant issues. There is no change for follow-up polls following weeks after the instant polls. We believe this is a better way to study public opinion on these issues: measure people's instant reaction to the policies, and then repeat in our follow-up surveys, which measure people's more matured reaction. Our Budget's first and second surveys this year were released on February 28 and March 3 respectively, while the findings of the follow-up poll are released today.
The follow-up poll in mid-March revealed that, 67% of the respondents were satisfied with the Budget and 7% were dissatisfied. The average rating registered for the Budget was 68.2 marks. 54% were satisfied with the government's strategy in monetary arrangement, whereas 14% were dissatisfied.
On the other hand, 64% of the respondents agreed to the 3 basic principles in public finances management, namely commitment to society, sustainability and pragmatism. And 10% of the respondents disagreed. 62% of the respondents thought that the tax concessions announced by the Financial Secretary were sufficient and 32% considered them insufficient. Meanwhile, 61% agreed to use mostly one-off measures in this year's budget, whereas 23% disagreed.
With respect to Hong Kong's tax system, 69% viewed it fair, whilst 24% thought it unfair. Last of all, 43% perceived the distribution of wealth in Hong Kong reasonable, as contrast to 47% who regarded it unreasonable.
Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme, observed, "Over the years, we have found that people's receptiveness of the government's Budget drops after it has been debated for some time. This seems to be a common phenomenon. Last year, however, after Henry Tang had given his fourth Budget speech, people's satisfaction rate has remained stable up to our follow-up survey. This year, we enhanced our research design by adding one more survey, and found that people's immediate reaction to John Tsang's maiden Budget was quite positive on the first day, went up further on the second day, and then back to the first day level in our follow-up survey. While we do not know whether the same thing happened last year, we will continue to investigate this phenomenon next year. Compared to previous figures registered in our Budget follow-up surveys, people's satisfaction level has reached record high this year, even higher than that registered in 2000 for Donald Tsang's Budget. In general, our follow-up survey this year has found although people's support for FS's ideas and proposals has dropped a bit, the support rates are all above 60%. As for the broader issues of tax system and distribution of wealth, people's opinion has remained quite stable."
News about POP
POP's normal practice is to release the results of our regular surveys every Tuesday afternoon via our POP Site, except during public holidays, each time with a forecast of the items to be released in the next 7 days. According to schedule, we will release the latest findings of people's opinions towards Taiwan issues and their appraisal of past Chinese leaders on March 20, Thursday, between 1pm and 2pm. Then on March 25, Tuesday, between 1pm and 2pm, POP will release the latest popularity figures of CE Donald Tsang and the HKSAR Government.
It is our general practice to answer all questions on the research design of the surveys published in the POP Site as soon as we receive them, but we will not further comment on the findings. We welcome questions for follow-up purpose, please email them to us at <[email protected]>. 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 POP, is responsible for everything posted herewith, except for column articles which represent the stand of their authors.
Since 2006, we have included in our regular press releases a small educational section for the purpose of sharing our research experience with the readers and the general public, and the subject of our education section today is "About HKUPOP". In the near future, we will keep on stepping up our effort in promoting general civic education to enhance our POP Site accordingly.
The development of Budget follow-up surveys
In the past many years, POP has conducted instant polls after the Policy Address and the Budget Speech are delivered. 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. Since the establishment of HKSAR, we began our Budget follow-up survey and our operation has not changed much since then. By "follow-up survey", we mean a survey which is conducted after several weeks when the Budget Speech is delivered, in order to gauge people's more matured reaction. We have explained the development of our Budget follow-up surveys in the press release of March 27, 2007. Today, we release an updated version with some editing, so that readers can have a more comprehensive picture of such development.
Our follow-up surveys mainly repeat questions from the instant and second surveys that asked for people's overall appraisal of the Budget, and tackle the ad hoc questions designed to match the content of the Budget. As an example, the questions of these surveys in 2008 are:
1. Overall speaking, are you satisfied with the government's strategy in monetary arrangement?
2. In general, are you satisfied with the Budget announced by the Financial Secretary?
3. Please rate your level of satisfaction with the Budget delivered by the Financial Secretary, with 0 indicating absolutely dissatisfied, 100 indicating absolutely satisfied and 50 indicating half-half. How will you rate this year's Budget?
4. Financial Secretary said there are 3 basic principles in public finances management, namely commitment to society, sustainability and pragmatism. Do you agree to this statement?
5. The Financial Secretary announced tax concessions which included lowering salaries tax by 1 percentage-point to 15%, providing one-off grant of $3,000 to each elderly, subsidizing each domestic electricity account with $1,800, providing one additional month of payments for CSSA recipients and disabled persons and so on. Do you think these measures are sufficient?
6. In this year's budget, there are mostly one-off measures, e.g. providing one additional month of payments for CSSA recipients and providing $3,000 to each elderly, etc. Do you agree to these measures?
7. Overall speaking, do you think the tax system in Hong Kong is fair or unfair?
8. Do you think the distribution of wealth in Hong Kong is reasonable or unreasonable?
9. Please rate your support of the Financial Secretary John Tsang using a 0-100 scale. 0 stands for absolutely no support, 100 stands for absolute support, 50 stands for half-half. How would you rate the Financial Secretary John Tsang?
10. If you had the right to vote on the reappointment or dismissal of John Tsang as the Financial Secretary tomorrow, how would you vote?
As for the follow-up survey, it only includes the above-mentioned Questions 1-8 in the first two surveys.
Regarding the sample sizes of all questions, they were set at slightly over 500.
The findings conducted on or before November 2000 have been published in our newsletter POP Express, and they are available in our POP Site in various formats.