A pro-Beijing party has topped a popularity chart of political groups in Hong Kong, a poll has found.

The Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI) published the results on Tuesday of a phone survey of 1,000 Hong Kong residents examining the city’s most popular political parties. Pro-Beijing labour and political group the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU) was at the top of the ranking, with a score of 43.7 out of 100.

2021 LegCo Election: Canvassing activity in Wan Chai.
Canvassing activity in Wan Chai. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Pro-Beijing party the DAB was in second place, with pro-democracy parties the Civic Party, the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (APDL), and the Democratic Party completing the top five, respectively.

“It should be noted, however, that our list of ‘top 10’ only includes political groups which are best known to the public, ranked according to their support ratings. Other political groups may well have very high or low support ratings, but because they are relatively less well-known, they are not included in our final list,” HKPORI said in a statement.

The pro-democracy League of Social Democrats (LSD) was the only political party that saw a drop in their score by 0.7 to 37.3. LSD ranked ninth among the top 10 parties.

HKPORI also asked another about 1,000 respondents to name up to 10 political groups that they were most familiar with, unprompted.

File Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The parties mentioned the most by respondents were the DAB, the Democratic Party, the HKFTU, the Liberal Party, the New People’s Party, the Civic Party, the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA), the LSD, the APDL, People Power, the disbanded Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Roundtable, and the Labour Party.

‘Not surprising’

Chan Po-ying, chairperson of the LSD, told HKFP on Wednesday that the drop in the group’s score was “not a major issue,” as the fall was within the margin of error.

“The survey asked ordinary citizens, and recently, familiar faces from the LSD are no longer here. It’s not surprising that ordinary citizens might have forgotten about us,” said Chan.

Chan’s husband, former lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, who was also a member of the LSD, is currently in prison over protest-related charges. He is also awaiting trial after he was charged under the Beijing-imposed national security law with 46 other democrats who they took part in a primary election for the then-postponed Legislative Council election.

Several other members of the LSD have also been sentenced to prison over other charges.

The LSD chairperson also said that the polls showed the rankings of the “entire pro-democracy camp” dropping “quite significantly.”

“For the pan-democrats, first of all, they have lost their seats in the legislature, losing a platform for them to express their opinions,” said Chan. “In civil society, there is a big limitation to protest and petition.”

Chan Po-ying 47 democrats West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts
Chan Po-ying of the League of Social Democrats stages a brief protest outside the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts before a hearing related to the 47 democrats’ subversion case on February 28, 2022. Photo: League of Social Democrats.

“As for press conferences… there is not much or even no news coverage,” Chan said.

“Now that we don’t have seats in the legislature… and our actions are not reported, I think it’s natural that in ordinary citizens’ minds it is as if we’re not here.”

Since the enactment of the sweeping security legislation in June two years ago, prominent figures in the pro-democracy camp have been prosecuted, left the city, or bowed out of politics.

Following an overhaul introduced by Beijing to ensure that “patriots” governed Hong Kong, the city’s legislature has only one self-proclaimed non-pro-establishment candidate among 90 seats.

‘A bit busy’

Avery Ng, secretary general of the LSD, responded to the polls on Facebook on Thursday, saying “sorry, a few of us have been a bit busy serving time in jail recently.”

“Sorry, a few of us have been a bit busy serving time in jail recently, please raise your hand if you all have any complaints about the LSD,” the post read. “I will try my best to satisfy you all, if there is something that [we] cannot accommodate, sorry.”

Ng was released last month after he completing time in prison over two unauthorised assemblies that were held in 2019, during the anti-extradition bill protests. He was sentenced to 14 months and two weeks in jail.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.