Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has recorded her lowest approval ratings since taking office in July 2017, according to a survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong.

Lam scored 45.5 points in her popularity rating, compared to 50.9 points earlier this month. Thirty-two per cent of respondents supported Lam as the city’s leader, while 52 per cent were opposed – giving her a net approval rate of negative 20 per cent. All three indicators hit record lows.

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. File photo: inmediahk.net.

The Public Opinion Programme at the University of Hong Kong interviewed 1,000 people via a phone survey between last Monday to Thursday, in the wake of government concessions on elderly social welfare and a controversial cash handout scheme.

“Our latest survey shows that the popularity figures of Chief Executive Carrie Lam continued to plunge in late January after the dramatic drop two weeks ago,” said Research Manager Frank Lee. Lam had also dropped around five points in her popularity rating in the preceding survey.

“In-depth analysis shows that the younger and the more educated the respondents, the more critical they are of Carrie Lam as [leader] in terms of both support rate and rating,” Lee added.

The survey also showed that only 27 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the Hong Kong government, while 49 per cent were dissatisfied. The net satisfaction rate was negative 23 per cent, which Lee described as a “huge drop” and marked a new low for the current administration. Earlier this month, the Hong Kong government had enjoyed a net satisfaction rate of positive 5 per cent.

Carrie Lam's approval
Carrie Lam’s approval rating. Photo: HKUPOP.

The government also had a trust rating of 44 per cent and a distrust rating of 37 per cent.

Respondents also registered dissatisfaction towards the economic, livelihood and political conditions of Hong Kong. The net satisfaction rate for the three aspects stand at negative 10, negative 34 and negative 43 per cent respectively.

No resignation

Pro-democracy lawmaker Ray Chan challenged Lam at her regular appearance at the legislature on Wednesday, asking if she will fulfil her election promise to resign if mainstream public opinion turns against her.

Lam replied that she will take responsibility for the recent policy fumbles. It was the second day in a row that Lam promised “humility” and improvement over recent policy wranglings.

“As for the government’s implementation of a few livelihood-related issues, we need to review and reflect, and there is definitely room for improvement,” she said. “As chief executive, the responsibility falls squarely on my shoulders.”

However, she said she and her team will stay in place.

Ray Chan
Ray Chan. File photo: inmediahk.net.

The latest poll figures show Lam’s administration may be losing favour with the elderly and people with lower educational attainment – groups typically considered her base. According to the demographic breakdown of the HKUPOP survey, Lam’s net approval rate among people aged 50 or above dropped from positive 18 per cent last November to negative eight per cent last week.

Among the respondents with primary-level education or below, Lam’s net approval rate fell from positive 27 per cent last November to negative four per cent last week.

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.