Hong Kong Pollster Stops Public Release of 10 Poll Data Including June 4th Incident

Hong Kong Pollster Stops Public Release of 10 Poll Data Including June 4th Incident
The Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI) officially announced on July 27, 2023, that it will stop releasing the results of 10 surveys to the public and will keep them for internal reference only. (Kiri Choi/The Epoch Times)

The Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI) officially announced on July 27, that from July onward, it will stop releasing the results of 10 surveys to the public and will keep them for internal reference only. Among the 10 are the June 4 incident, the popularity of the disciplinary forces, the identity of Hong Kong people, and the like.

According to the HKPORI website, starting from July, the results of 10 polls will not be made public. The polls involved are: "popularity of Executive Council members," "popularity of Legislative Council members," "popularity of political organizations," "popularity of political figures on both sides of the Taiwan Strait," "nationality and ethnicity issues," "ethnic identity," "June 4th Incident," "Anniversary on the handover of sovereignty,” "popularity of the disciplinary forces," and "global awareness."

The questions around the "June 4th Incident" are: "Do you support a reversion of the official stand on the June 4 Incident?" "Do you think the Chinese Government did the right thing in the June 4 Incident?", "Do you think Hong Kong people have a responsibility to instigate the development of democracy in China?" The "global awareness" question series would include how much the respondent like or dislike the Hong Kong government, and the CCP government.

PORI Director: We Need to 'Dance with Time'

PORI Director Rebert Chung Ting-yiu said at a press conference that he has been thinking about the development of public research in the past and concluded that it is necessary to "dance with the times." He explained, "We shouldn’t be too obsessed with advancing or retreating. Time is changing. Sometimes we move straight forward, sometimes directly backward, sometimes in a circle, and sometimes spiral up or down. At this time, the most important thing for us is interaction."

He said that the purpose of this change is to reduce the resources for public release. "To present information in press releases, you also need to write reports and draw a lot of charts." He also pointed out that in recent years, survey results conducted by PORI have rarely been used, and due to the current political situation, some data have led to political disputes, such as cross-strait issues, how Hong Kong citizens view the governments on both sides of the Taiwan strait, and Hong Kong people’s identity.

When asked whether he was worried that some of the issues would trespass the national security law and whether he had consulted the lawyers, Chung stated that he did not seek legal advice, and also claimed that he had not received any official reminders or letters from the government. All considerations were made based on professionalism, resources, social needs, and risk assessment. As to whether the data will be republished in the future, Chung said that there is always such a chance, "but on the contrary, it is also not surprising that we might put the data of all public issues into the internal reference domain as well."

He said that PORI itself conducts one small-scale review every six months and one major review once a year. "I believe that (PORI) will not undergo major changes in the next six months, but if the world and Hong Kong become very different, we will re-examine it."

Not Illegal to Release Poll Numbers Related to June 4, But Follows Suggestion from Authority

In early June, the PORI announced that it would not release the "June 4th Anniversary Investigation Report," saying that it was following "relevant government departments' recommendations after risk assessment." When asked whether Hong Kong has been unable to commemorate the June 4th incident publicly in recent years and whether the cancellation of the public release of the poll results on the June 4th incident will affect the space for Hong Kong people to express their views, Mr. Chung said that in early June, he planned to publish the "June 4th Anniversary Survey Report" online without a press conference. But just before that, he received "reminders" from government departments, suggesting that it is best to cancel it. Mr. Chung added that although he believes releasing those relevant figures is not illegal, based on overall consideration, he decided to cancel its release according to the "suggestion" of the authorities. He also admitted that PORI did not investigate the reasons at the time, and took no decision on how long it would take before its release. "We don't want to be too critical, and also don't need to be too critical (into too many details) either." He said that investigations related to June 4 will continue next year, but only it will not be released publicly.

Start the PORI Data Search Service

HKPORI also announced yesterday the launch of the "PORI Data Search Service," which is convenient for people from all walks of life to check all published public opinion survey figures from HKPORI for free. As for the figures and data of regular surveys that are not made public, they will be available to the public in the form of item spreadsheets in the future to facilitate search and limited use. HKPORI would bind all searchers to promise that they will not use the information obtained, charged or uncharged, for illegal purposes and also not to transfer or resell to anyone else. The "PORI Data Search Platform" is still in its development phase and is expected to be fully operational by September.

Mr. Chung said that access to past published data will be available free, but some of the unpublished data will be charged. The exact amount is not yet finalized but estimates to be around a few thousand to ten thousand Hong Kong dollars (about US$400 to 1300).

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