The popularity rating of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong Garrison is at a record low, according to a biannual university poll released on Tuesday.

The University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme (HKUPOP) reported that the satisfaction rate of the garrison stands at 57.8 marks – its lowest since the question was first asked in 2012. The rating represents a “significant decrease” of 11 per cent, down from 61 marks. The last survey was in May.

Xi Jinping People's Liberation Army
Xi Jinping inspects People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison. Photo: GovHK.

HKUPOP conducted the survey over five days in November, with interviewers speaking to 1,000 respondents over the phone. People were asked to rate their satisfaction with Hong Kong disciplinary forces and the PLA Hong Kong Garrison on a scale of one to five. A sample mean was then calculated and an overall mark was given. The response rate of the survey was 68 per cent.

The PLA Hong Kong Garrison has overseen the defence affairs of the central government in the city after its transfer of sovereignty to China in 1997.

PLA Garrison
File Photo: China Liason Office

In the poll, Hong Kong services proved more popular than the PLA. The Fire Services Department came first at 82.9. While the Auxiliary Medical Service and the Government Flying Service occupied second and third place with ratings of 79.3 and 78.8 respectively.

Trailing in fourth place was the Customs and Excise Department at 74.1, with the Civil Aid Service and Immigration Department occupying fifth and sixth place at 73.3 and 71.5 respectively. Next was the Independent Commission Against Corruption at 68.9, and the Correctional Services Department at 67.9. The Police Force trailed second to last, in ninth position, with a rating of 62.5.

‘Not changed much’

HKUPOP Research Manager Frank Lee Wai-Kin said that results do not represent a drastic change from the poll in May: “Compared with the last survey, the overall rankings of all disciplinary forces have not changed much,” he said.

HKUPOP PLA satisfaction rating
Photo: HKUPOP.

Lee added that most disciplines scored well: “In terms of absolute ratings, all nine disciplinary forces get more than 60 marks, six of which are above 70, which is very good,” he said.

He asked people to “form their own judgement” as to the potential factors behind the popularity ratings among the forces.

In November, Factwire reported that Chinese border guards were seen occupying a tract of land on the Hong Kong side of the mainland border. The area measured 21,000 sq ft and was adjacent to the Sha Tau Kok river.

HKUPOP began the regular surveys on Hongkongers’ satisfaction with the police force and the PLA Hong Kong Garrison in 1997.

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.