The Hong Kong government headquarters in Admiralty Photo: Asia Times

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has improved her approval rating slightly in a recent survey but is still the least popular of all her predecessors.

According to the latest survey conducted by the independent Public Opinion Research Institute, Lam scored 33.4 marks out of 100 in popularity, edging up 0.6 from the last poll in June. Some 26% of respondents supported her but 66% disapproved, giving the chief executive net popularity of negative 40 percentage points.

The random survey interviewed 1,025 Hong Kong residents by telephone between July 2 and 5, months after the first anti-extradition bill protest on March 31.

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah scored just 21.6 out of 100, the lowest mark by a Hong Kong minister in similar polls. Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung got 38 marks, the highest among the three ministers, but his net approval rate is negative 12.

Another secretary linked to the extradition bill, security chief John Lee Ka-chiu, saw his net approval rating plunge by 25 percentage points to negative 38 from the last survey a month ago.

The top position went to Sophia Chan Siu-chee, secretary for food and health, with positive 32 percentage points.

No directors of Carrie Lam’s administration scored a net approval rate of more than 50%.

The survey is the first conducted by the Institute founded by Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, a veteran pollster and University of Hong Kong academia.

Chung established the Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong (HKUPOP) in 1991, which was a self-financed unit that functioned under the umbrella of HKU. Over the past 28 years, it has conducted a wide range of research and has developed significant expertise in polling and survey methodology.

HKUPOP spun off into the independent Institute on July 1 as Chung retired from the university.

Meanwhile, the least popular minister, justice chief Teresa Cheng and financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po are due to visit Beijing on Wednesday and Thursday.

Cheng is scheduled to meet with representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Supreme People’s Court and visit the Beijing Internet Court, according to a government release.

Meanwhile, the financial secretary will attend a ceremony on taxation arrangement between mainland China and Hong Kong.

But lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai questioned their itineraries, suspecting that the trip could be related to the governance crisis or they may be receiving instructions from Beijing on how to govern the city, Oriental Daily reported.

Chan Wai-keung, a lecturer of College of Professional and Continuing Education under the Polytechnic University, also said it  is unusual to arrange trips while the saga is still going on in Hong Kong. He said the central government could ask the justice chief, who has been under fire over the bill controversy and other issues, to reflect on her work performance and may even request her resignation.

In contrast, while government officials received poor performance report cards, Hong Kong protesters were named as one of the 25 most influential people on the internet.

The list of 25 people and groups curated by the US Time Magazine has put Hong Kong protesters alongside US President Donald Trump, Korean boy-band BTS and Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The magazine said the “movement to preserve Hong Kong’s freedoms” was “leaderless by design” but protesters put online platforms, including the LIHKG, a local Reddit-like message board and secure messaging app Telegram to effective use to help them “stay both active and anonymous.”

“Other aspects of the demonstrations are also coordinated online, including relaying reminders of upcoming protests, sharing legal aid resources and, more recently, offering counseling services and emotional support,” it wrote.

The list, which is not ranked, is now in its fifth year. The magazine said it “evaluated contenders by looking at their global impact on social media and their overall ability to drive news.”

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