Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah’s support rating has risen to a seven-year high, according to a survey by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme.

Tsang’s latest popularity score is 61.8, up slightly from the last survey and the highest since April 2008. The 64-year-old has been Hong Kong’s financial chief since 2007. On his watch, the government has continuously recorded a budget surplus every year. However, he has been criticised for always underestimating the surplus by a large margin and has never once predicted the budget correctly.

In June, President Xi Jinping approached Tsang on the sidelines of a Beijing meeting and offered him a firm handshake, sparking speculation that Tsang could be a candidate for the next chief executive election.

Political analysts and the media compared it to a “meaningful” handshake given by then-president Jiang Zemin to former Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa in 1996 during Tung’s election campaign.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s popularity score edged up 1.2 points to 42.5, which is still below researchers’ warning line of 45.

Leung, as well as his education minister Eddie Ng Hak-kim, fell under the category of “depressing” performers while Tsang was tagged a “successful” performer.

Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man. Photo: Apple Daily.

Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man remained the most popular principle government official. With a support rate of 71 percent, Ko is the only “ideal” performer in the administration.

The survey was conducted on November 2 to November 5. Researchers interviewed 1,008 people by phone.

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Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.