Democrats hit out at lack of opinion polls

Local | Phoebe Ng 8 Mar 2018

Pro-democracy candidates in Sunday's by-elections claim the absence of public opinion polls has deprived them of the opportunity to "declare emergencies."

The polls are for the Legislative Council constituencies of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon West and New Territories East, and the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency.

Just before or on election days, candidates usually declare they are lagging behind their competitors and are in need of last-minute votes, in so-called state of emergencies. However, the lack of opinion polls by TV stations has deprived candidates of this option.

Yesterday they jointly held a gathering in Tamar Park to call on voters to turn out. All their four candidates - Au Nok-hin, Gary Fan Kwok-wai, Edward Yiu Chung-yim and Paul Zimmerman - were present together with a dozen pan-democrat legislators.

Au, running in Hong Kong Island, said although all four candidates were in an emergency situation, it was difficult for them to call for emergency measures as had happened in past elections.

"We based our efforts on the trends of opinion polls in the past to decide whether to call for emergency measures, but this time we don't even know what our support rate is because there are very few polls being conducted now, which never happened in Hong Kong before," Au said.

Au is running against the pro-establishment representative Judy Chan Ka-pui from New People's Party, as well as Edward Yum Liang-hsien and Ng Dick-hay, who have no political affiliations.

Gary Fan said the pro-establishment camp was putting even more effort and money into the campaign for his opponent Bill Tang Ka-piu, expecting Tang to get more than 150,000 votes this time.

Besides Fan and Tang, there were four other candidates - Nelson Wong Sing-chi, Christine Fong Kwok-shan, Estella Chan Yuk-ngor and Joyce Chiu Pui-yuk.

Edward Yiu, running in Kowloon West, said the only poll run by a local TV station showed that he was behind his opponent Vincent Cheng Wing-shun of the DAB.

It is believed that Yiu, formerly a functional constituency legislator, lacks district connections, of which Cheng has in abundance.

Former DAB member Tsoi Tung-chau is also running in the district.

Zimmerman, dueling in the functional constituency election against pro-establishment Tony Tse Wai-chuen, said voters in his sector faced great pressure from their business.

Political scientist Ma Ngok also found the lack of polls and election forums had reduced media coverage of the by-elections but he believes a low turnout rate would not necessarily benefit the pro-establishment candidates. "If there are 100,000 voters who don't come out to vote, there could be 10,000 or 20,000 pro-establishment supporters, so another key of this election is whether the candidates can attract centrist voters," Ma said.

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