Public ratings for freedom and corruption-free practices in Hong Kong have dropped to new lows since surveying began in 1997, said the University of Hong Kong (HKU) on Tuesday.

“Our latest survey shows that compared to half a year ago, most social indicators continue to drop, many have dropped to their new record lows in the past ten years or so,” said Edward Chit Fai-tai, senior data analyst at HKU’s Public Opinion Programme (POP), in a press release.

The University of Hong Kong. Photo: Wikicommons.

Chit added that other indicators which also reached record lows include freedom of speech, freedom of publication and freedom of artistic literary creation.

The university’s department conducted a public survey from July 18 to 21 and randomly sampled 1,013 people in Hong Kong through telephone interviews. The respondents were asked to provide ratings on different social indicators in Hong Kong.

Latest figures for the five core social indicators. Photo: HKU POP.

Survey results

The respondents were asked to rate five core social indicators – freedom, prosperity, stability, democracy and compliance with the rule of law – on a scale of zero to ten, with ten indicating the full presence of the element and zero indicating a total lack thereof.

The ratings for three out of the five indicators – 6.62 for freedom, 5.86 for democracy and 6.19 for compliance with the rule of law – dropped compared to previous years. The ratings for prosperity and stability were 6.46 and 6.31, respectively.

The rating for democracy dropped by 0.03 since the last figure in February, whereas compliance with rule of law dropped 0.26 since the previous survey. The two indicators have dropped to their new lowest points since 2004 and 2000, respectively.

Out of seven non-core social indicators, four also saw decreases in ratings from the previous survey, specifically 6.71 for civilisation, 6.32 for efficiency, 5.66 for equality and 5.95 for corruption-free practices.

The remaining non-core social indicators – public order, social welfare sufficiency and fairness – were rated at 7.09, 6.24 and 5.58, respectively.

Eliot Hall, The University of Hong Kong. Photo: Wikicommons.

Two rule of law sub-indicators also experienced decreases from the last survey: namely a drop from 6.84 to 6.67 for impartiality of the courts and a drop from 6.40 to 6.16 for fairness of the judicial system.

Geoffrey Ma Tao-li, chief justice at Hong Kong’s Final Court of Appeal, was given a support rating of 64.6 out of 100.

“All in all, people still consider Hong Kong’s degree of freedom to be positive, but their appraisal of many types of freedom has gone worse,” said Chit.

Gene Lin

Gene Lin is a Journalism and Computer Science student at The University of Hong Kong. He worked as a reporter for the 'LIVE: Verified Updates' during the Occupy Central protests. He is also an editor at HKU's first English-language student paper, The Lion Post.