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Survey Shows Young are Losing Faith in Leaders

Survey Shows Young are Losing Faith in Leaders

2013 September

CITY3   South China Morning Post    Shirley Zhao




Politicians fail to instil confidence in future decision makers, but civil servants rate well

Almost 40 per cent of young people believe Hong Kong will become more corrupt in the next five years, and they think civil servants are much more trustworthy than government officials, according to a survey.

Fewer than 20 per cent of the 500 respondents, aged 15 to 34, said they had confidence in the honesty of leading government officials, compared with 35 per cent who trusted civil servants, the survey found.

Top government officials scored only 4.2 on a 10-point scale of respondents’ perception of “cleanness”. The business sector scored 3.2 while civil servants rated 5.4.

The respondents were interviewed between July 2 and 12 by pollsters from think tank the Roundtable Institute, the Institute of Education’s Centre for Greater China Studies, and its Faculty of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. According to the surveyors, the research had a 95 per cent confidence level with a margin of error of 4.4.

The survey came after a series of allegations involving top government officials receiving benefits from the business sector or defrauding the government. They include former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan and former development minister Mak Chai-kwong, who was convicted. Many cases were taken to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Even former ICAC chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming became involved in a scandal, when he was accused of spending extravagantly while in office.

Centre for Greater China Studies director professor Joshua Mok Ka-ho said these scandals, together with the city’s closer links to the mainland, had caused young people to lose their faith in the government. “It’s worth worrying about and should be a warning sign, because it will damage Hong Kong’s image as a corruption-free city,” Mok said. The government should improve its system of declaration of interests and spread the anti-corruption message, he said.

But the survey also revealed some positives, he said, citing the findings that almost half of the respondents viewed ICAC as effective in fighting corruption and 70 per cent said they would report corruption cases.

Separately, the former ICAC deputy commissioner and head of operations Daniel Li Ming-chak said yesterday that 30 to 40 per cent of complaints the anti-graft agency received during his tenure were motivated by political or personal interests.

But that did not mean there was no grain of truth in their claims, Li said on a TV show hosted by Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing.