Pan-democratic lawmakers have questioned whether the Central Policy Unit has used public funds to conduct a confidential survey. The poll asked potential voters in the Legislative Council elections how much importance they attach to the candidates’ stance on the question of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s re-election.

Lawmakers including Charles Mok, Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong, Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, Ip Kin-yuen and Joseph Lee Kok-long say they have sent a joint enquiry to the unit about the survey.

Photo: HKFP remix.

“The Central Policy Unit’s estimated operational expenses were some HK$90 million for the year 2015-16,” said Mok. “If a public body was used privately to help with the election campaign of the pro-Beijing camp, or even to do a survey for the re-election of 689 [Leung], it is totally outrageous.”

News site HK01 carried a report on Tuesday, referring to apparently confidential documents showing that the unit conducted the poll between May 27 and June 1, reaching 709 people, of whom 568 claimed to be registered voters. One of the eight questions was on the stance of candidates on Leung’s re-election.

Civil servants counting votes. Photo: HKFP.

Of the surveyed voters, 56.8 per cent found candidates’ stance on the issue “very important” or “somewhat important”. Thirty-nine per cent found the stance “completely not important” or “somewhat not important”.

The report also said younger, more educated voters, and those who claimed to be pan-democrats, tended to find the candidate’s stance on this issue more important.

It added that the results of the confidential survey were only passed on to the Chief Executive, principal officials and permanent secretaries of bureaus and departments.

Leung’s approval ratings have hit an all-time low since taking office in 2012, according to the latest survey published by the University of Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme last week.

Shiu Sin-por. File

The five lawmakers demanded that the unit’s head, Shiu Sin-por, answer questions about the survey, such as whether the academic or commercial research institutions were asked to commission the polls, the cost, the survey’s goal and range and what the results were used for, and what was the relationship between the survey and public policy issues.

They also enquired as to what surveys were done or will be done concerning incumbent lawmakers and elections, and whether the unit will disclose them.

In response to HK01, the unit did not confirm or deny the survey, only saying that the unit constantly gathers public opinion on political, economic and social issues, also on policy implementation and livelihood issues that society is concerned about, for the government’s internal reference.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.