More Hong Kong Election Surveys

Reported in Ming Pao (via Yahoo! News), the Democratic Party conducted telephone interviews with 712 persons between March 25 to March 28, 2005.

On the first question of whether the pan-democratic camp ought to field someone to run for the Chief Executive position, 58.3% agreed and 41.7% opposed.  41.9% believe that the Democratic Party's participation will help to promote democracy while 25.1% believe that it will hinder democratic progress.

On the second question of which type of person they wanted to most see to run, 41.6% said "public servant," 36.5% said "democrat" and 10.3% said "business person."

On the third question of the method of election, 65.3% said "one person, one vote", 19% said an expanded electoral committee and 15.7% said the current 800-person electoral commitee.

And now for the second survey which is cited in today's Sing Tao column (print only; no link).  Last Wednesday and Thursday, the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at Chinese University of Hong Kong conducted telephone interviews with 740 persons.  Of these, 329 were able to name a preferred candidate for the Chief Executive position.  This appears to be a question with open-ended answers, because some of the choices are hilarious:

How to reconcile the two sets of survey results?  The first survey posed certain abstract questions about principles, and the answers will reflect attitudinal preferences.  Thus, there is a close race between a hypothetical "public servant" and a hypothetical "democrat," far ahead of another hypothetical "business person."

The second survey now demands those principles to be made concrete in terms of a specific named individual, whom one must imagine to function as the Chief Executive, including managing a massive bureaucracy; developing policies; dealing with the public, the elected representatives, the media and the mainland Chinese government; and so on.  Immediately, only 44% can or want to even name anyone.  The top five choices are all former or current public servants and they account for 89% of the total votes, and the percentage would be higher if the impossible options such as Andy Lau, Li Ka-shing or Wu Yi are excluded.

The first Chief Executive of Hong Kong was a businessman, Tung Chee-hwa.  Things did not work out too well, and so the brightest hope now is a "public servant," of which Donald Tsang is the most prominent figure.  But an acceptable previous public service record is no guarantee of success in this job, because much depends on external factors beyond the control of the Chief Executive.  To quote Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew:

It is a thankless job. You have a master in China. You have subsidiary masters in Hong Kong.  Beijing has no intention of allowing Hong Kong to be a pacesetter or a Trojan horse, or whatever metaphor you wish to choose, to try to change the system in China.  Anything you do here in Hong Kong which does not disturb or can become an example of what China should do, that will be allowed.  You want peace, you want stability, you want growth, you want to shout your heart out but not at the system in China.  If you try to influence the course of events in China by examples and say this is a better system, I would think that is not likely to win enthusiastic support.  

You can make the life of your next chief executive onerous and burdensome by making demands which you know he can't support because there are limits as to what you can do within the 'one country, two systems.'  Or you can accept that there are these limits and within those limits, you can thrive and prosper.