Nearly 70 per cent of Hongkongers oppose postponing district council elections despite threat of protest violence, survey finds

Ng Kang-chung

Nearly seven out of 10 Hongkongers surveyed were opposed to postponing the district council elections despite the threat of violence from anti-government protests, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

Only about 17 per cent of the Hong Kong residents polled said the government should delay or reschedule the citywide district council voting planned for November 24.

The poll results were compiled by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute, which interviewed 1,035 people between October 30 and November 1.

More than 53 per cent of the respondents said they “strongly oppose” a rescheduling of the elections, with 17.3 per cent indicating that they “fairly oppose” the idea. Only 5.4 per cent went with “half oppose”.

Robert Chung, president of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute, warned of a loss of the public’s loss of confidence in the police. Photo: Dickson Lee

Hong Kong has been rocked by mass protests since June. As the violence intensified, radical protesters have vandalised property, businesses and banks, and thrown petrol bombs at metro stations, police stations and law enforcement officers.

The government formed a crisis management committee, headed by the Electoral Affairs Commission chairman Mr Justice Barnabas Fung Wah, to advise the government about what should be done about the November 24 district council elections.

The committee would recommend to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor that the elections be postponed if there was a “riot, open violence or any danger to public health or safety”.

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In Tuesday’s poll, only 9.4 per cent of participants indicated they “strongly agree” to postponing the polls, and another 7.5 per cent said they “fairly agree” with a postponement.

The poll also showed 67.3 per cent of the respondents felt the police had lost self-control and made indiscriminate arrests in their handling of recent protests.

Meanwhile, more than 64 per cent agreed that Hongkongers should seek help from the international community to protect their rights because the city government had failed to do so.

“The survey results clearly show that the majority of Hongkongers believe the police force has acted unprofessionally in making indiscriminate arrests and losing control,” said Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, the institute’s president and chief executive officer.

Chung warned that the public’s loss of confidence in the police would lead to an escalation of violence.

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