LCQ6: Opinion survey by Central Policy Unit

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung and an oral reply by the Acting Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (June 22):


    It has been reported that the Central Policy Unit ("CPU") has earlier conducted an opinion survey to gain an understanding of whether candidates' stances on certain subjects are regarded by the respondents to be important considerations when they, as registered electors, choose the candidates during the Legislative Council Election to be held in September this year.  Such subjects include "re-election of Leung Chun-ying", "independence of Hong Kong", "self-determination of Hong Kong's future", etc.  There are comments that such opinion survey has nothing to do with the Government's implementation of policies, arousing suspicion that the objective of the opinion survey is to assist pro-Government candidates in planning their election strategies.  Regarding the opinion surveys conducted by CPU, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the objectives and functions of the aforesaid opinion survey conducted by CPU; the follow-up measures taken and the details of the policies formulated by the Government in response to the outcome of the opinion survey;

(2) of the details of the opinion surveys conducted by CPU since the commencement of the current-term Government, including the number, subject matters, methodologies, as well as the manpower and expenses involved; and

(3) of the procedure followed by CPU for determining whether an opinion survey should be conducted on a particular subject matter; the personnel within the Government who are currently given access to the results of such opinion surveys?



    Since its establishment, one of the main tasks of the Central Policy Unit (CPU) has been to understand public opinion for reference by the Government in formulating and implementing public policies.  Opinion survey is an important tool to understand public opinion.  Governments and relevant research institutions in other places also acknowledge the importance of such surveys as an important basis for evidence-based policy research.  Both local and overseas experience has proven the importance of opinion surveys for reference by governments.  

    As indicated in the press statement by the CPU on June 13, 2016, the opinion survey in question was initiated by the CPU and the questionnaire was designed on CPU's own initiative.  No one else was involved.  The objective of the survey concerned is for the Government to understand the public's attitudes and considerations relating to the election of Legislative Council (LegCo) Members in September 2016.  The content and findings of the survey concerned are unrelated to the election of the Special Administrative Region Chief Executive to be held next year.  Also, the questions and responses are not concerned with whether or not they provide an advantage or disadvantage to those who intend to take part in the Chief Executive election.  

The reply to the Hon Leung Yiu-chung's question is set out below:

(1) As mentioned above, the aim of the CPU's opinion survey in question is for the Government to understand the public's attitudes and considerations relating to the election of LegCo Members in September 2016.  Public opinions and attitudes will change over time and because of other factors, hence the trends of change are of important reference value to the Government in respect of individual policies and overall policy implementation.  The LegCo election in September 2016 is an important event in Hong Kong.  In the course of election, the issues that concern the public and the extent of their concern are closely related to the formulation and implementation of public policies.  This is an area that the Government should understand.

(2) Since the commencement of the current-term Government up to the end of May 2016, some $20 million had been disbursed for 207 opinion surveys conducted by the CPU.  The surveys covered social, economic, people's livelihood and political issues which were of concern to the public.  A senior statistician and a researcher of the CPU assisted in the work.

(3) From time to time, the CPU seeks to understand community concerns and public opinion and attitudes concerning political, economic and social issues through various channels.  The Head of CPU decides on the setting of the questionnaire of each opinion survey as necessary, and professional research bodies are commissioned to conduct the opinion surveys.  Consistent with international standards, CPU has always followed the standards and requirements of social science research in conducting opinion surveys in an impartial and scientific manner.  As mentioned above, the results of opinion surveys are for the Government's internal reference and the reports are sent to relevant officers on a need basis.

    Thank you.

Ends/Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:22