Problems relating to labour and new arrivals from the mainland have been the most and second-most often mentioned issues respectively, according to the latest bi-monthly public opinion survey conducted by the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB).
An HAB spokesman said today (Monday) that "the most prominent feature of the survey was the fact that 'new arrivals from the mainland' as a problem had jumped from eleventh place in January to second place, probably under the combined circumstances of intense efforts to seek a solution to it and constant public debates and prominent media attention devoted to the subject in the aftermath of the Court of Final Appeal decision on the right of abode."
"It is also worth noting that the top two issues are clearly inter-connected. While labour-related problems continued to be the most often mentioned at 47 per cent (down from 49 per cent in March), 40 per cent mentioned new arrivals from the mainland as a problem (up sharply from 14 per cent in March). No doubt it was perceived by many that the estimated 1.67 million mainlanders entitled to the right of abode here represent major demands for job opportunities, among other things," the spokesman remarked.
"In fact, among those who mentioned labour-related problems, 95 per cent of them (unchanged from the last survey) were worried about finding jobs, layoffs or underemployment. While among those concerned about new arrivals from the mainland, 59 per cent (up from 53 per cent in March) worried about the additional burden they might place on the society such as in housing, employment and education".
The corporatisation of Housing Department and the high profile protest actions taken by the staff affected as well as the threatened union actions had kept labour-related issues uppermost in many respondents' minds, the spokesman added.
Economy is third on the list of major public concerns, albeit dropping further from 54 per cent in March to 38 per cent. It was mentioned by 61 per cent of survey respondents in January.
Tied to the economy was the revelation that 57 per cent expressed confidence in the continued prosperity and stability of Hong Kong (down from 62 per cent in March).
The Government's standing with the respondents took a dip when 32 per cent of them indicated their satisfaction with its overall performance (down from 39 per cent). But a bullish counterpoint was struck when 46 per cent voiced their satisfaction with the present situation, which is higher than in the last survey (41 per cent).
The survey is the 82nd in the series started in January 1983. It was conducted over the phone by interviewing 1,683 respondents aged 15 to 64 who were chosen by random through the residential telephone directories. The survey was carried out May 10-14, 1999.
End/Monday, May 31, 1999