The approval rating of Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen has plunged 18 percentage points over the past month, according to a survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme. It speculated that this was “perhaps related to recent events including the sentence review and jailing of some activists.”

HKUPOP interviewed 807 Hongkongers via telephone from September 1 to 6. The latest poll results indicate that Yuen’s support rating stood at 46.4 marks, with an approval rate of 31 per cent and a disapproval rate of 33 per cent. His net popularity plunged to negative 3 percentage points since the last survey was last conducted in early August.

HKUPOP also conducted an analysis of public opinion to identify the most discussed issues online, in light of the “significant” change in Yuen’s net approval rate.

File photo: In-Media.

It found that the most discussed items included the Department of Justice’s sentence review applications of 16 activists involved in two 2014 protests; the jailing of the protesters concerned and the subsequent demonstrations; Yuen’s denial of political motivation over the appeals; as well as the Court of Final Appeal’s rejection of Youngspiration duo’s application for appeal – who had been removed as lawmakers over their oath-taking.

The Court of Appeal jailed 16 protesters last month in relation to two protests – the northeast New Territories demonstrations and Civic Square clashes – after the Department of Justice called for harsher punishment for “deterrent” purposes. They were initially given community service sentences, which they had finished serving.

“The results show that online public opinion had been discussing the opinions of Rimsky Yuen and the court’s decisions to the activists. Whether or not these items could sufficiently explain the changes in [Secretary for Justice] Rimsky Yuen’s popularity ratings, readers could form their own judgment,” HKUPOP said.

Lam popularity stable

Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s popularity rating slightly decreased by 1.2 marks to 59.0. Her net popularity of positive 15 percentage points indicated little change over the past two weeks, when HKUPOP conducted its last survey.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung. Photo: In-Media.

The survey also showed that Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung continues to be the most popular department secretary out of the three, with a support rating of 55.4 marks and a net popularity of positive 21 percentage points. Financial Secretary Paul Chan, however, has a support rating of 42.7 marks and a net popularity of negative 17 percentage points.

Amongst the 13 directors, only the Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah has a negative net popularity rating at negative 13 percentage points.

HKUPOP Research Manager Frank Lee said that – according to the public poll standards – no one fell into the category of ideal performer, although Lam could be categorised as a “successful” performer. No one fell into the category of “depressing” or disastrous.”

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.