Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa has become the main
victim of the fallout surrounding the Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome (SARS) outbreak with his popularity falling to its lowest
level since he took office.
However, Financial Secretary Antony Leung has become the most
unpopular of all senior government officials despite efforts to sweep
his alleged conflict-of-interest scandal under the official carpet.
According to a Hong Kong University public opinion programme poll
conducted between April 4-9, Tung had 41.3 points, a significant drop
of 2.6 from a poll in mid-March.
Robert Chung, director of the programme, said Tung's score could well
be a reaction to his handling of the SARS outbreak.
"Tung's record-low popularity rating may well have reflected people's
dissatisfaction with his way of handling atypical pneumonia, because
his rating only began to drop again in late March," he said.
Tung's all-time highest rating was 67 which he scored in September
1997, two months after becoming Chief Executive.
However, the poll noted only a slight fall in ratings of other senior
officials responsible for handling the SARS outbreak.
The popularity of Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Yeoh
Eng-kiong, for instance, dipped merely 1.2 points while that of
Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li hardly moved.
Leung's popularity, however, plunged 4.5 to 40.4, an all-time low
among the 12 "cabinet" members.
Chung said Leung's slump was mainly due to his purchase of a car
before announcing tax rises in the budget and was not influenced by
the viral pneumonia outbreak.
"There is little doubt that the plunge in Leung's rating was entirely
due to his car purchase," Chung said.
"Having lost 9.4 points since he announced the budget in early March,
Leung has become the most unpopular principal official under the
The rating for Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang was
58.6 points, a slight drop of 1.5 points.
But that of Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung rebounded by four points
It was the first time for the justice chief to have accumulated more
points than Antony Leung.
Secretary for Security Regina Ip also enjoyed an upswing, with her
rating climbing 4.2 to 53.2.
"The two officials have probably benefited from the cooling down of
the Basic Law Article 23 issue," Chung said.
According to the poll, which interviewed 1,066 people, the most
popular member of Tung's "cabinet" was Secretary for the
Environment, Transport and Works Sarah Liao with 61.5 points, a drop
of just 0.3.
Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Henry Tang was second
with 55 points.
Secretary for Economic Development and Labour Stephen Ip was next with
All rights reserved.