Almost half of Hongkongers surveyed in a recent poll expressed that they had low or no expectations for Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee’s first Policy Address, which will be delivered on Wednesday.

john lee presser
Chief Executive John Lee presents the cover of his first Policy Address to the press on Oct. 17, 2022. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI) surveyed 4,736 residents over the age of 12 online between October 7 and 12, and released the results in a press meeting last Friday.

Thirty-two per cent of respondents said they had “no expectation” for the upcoming Policy Address, while 17 per cent said they had low expectations. Meanwhile, 28 per cent told the researchers they had high expectations and 19 per cent answered “half-half.”

Nevertheless, the findings suggested Lee was seen in a more positive light than his predecessor. A similar study conducted by PORI ahead of then-chief executive Carrie Lam’s final set of policy proposals found that only 15 per cent of respondents had high expectations, while a total of 57 per cent had either low or no expectations.

The results of this year’s poll also showed that more than 80 per cent of respondents thought it was necessary for Lee’s first Policy Address to deal with “healthcare and public health” as well as “housing” issues.

The Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute. File photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Respondents, however, gave split answers when it came to assessing Lee’s first 100 days in office as Hong Kong’s leader. Thirty per cent said they were satisfied with his policy direction, 31 per cent were dissatisfied, and another 30 per cent answered “half-half.”

‘Honeymoon period’

Political commentator Derek Yuen said during the press conference to release the survey results that Lee’s administration was still in its “honeymoon period,” as the chief executive was new to the office.

However, Yuen said he was concerned that people who supported the government or held a centrist stance might lose their confidence in the new administration “if there continues to be a lack of political achievements… or people can’t see significant improvements in Hong Kong’s situation.”

Yuen was also worried that the government’s emphasis on housing policies might backfire and lead to a downfall in its popularity, as he said housing and land problems “usually cannot be solved within the current term [of administration].”

derek yuen
Derek Yuen. File photo: Derek Yuen via Facebook.

During the same conference, Kenneth Chan, an associate professor in political science at the Hong Kong Baptist University and former chairperson of the pro-democracy Civic Party, said the new administration had not “seriously” conducted public consultation.

Chan said the government had only hosted two face-to-face sessions at the district level and most of the attendees were invited members from government-appointed organisations or their “satellite groups.”

“We haven’t seen a government that is willing to hear, reach out to people or visit residents in different districts,” Chan said, adding that District Councils’ ability to collect local opinions had been “almost paralysed” after the mass resignation of pro-democracy District Councillors.

The pro-democracy camp won a landslide victory in the 2019 District Council elections, when Hong Kong was in the midst of months-long protests and unrest. But since the introduction of mandatory oaths of allegiance in May last year, over 200 District Council seats have been left vacant.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.