Monday, March 5, 2012

Dr. Robert Chung at POP answers questions about March 23, 2012, "civil referendum" in Hong Kong

Dr. Robert Chung is the Director of the Public Opinion Programme (POP) at Hong Kong University. POP is organizing an online and offline poll/election, scheduled for March 23, 2012, to ascertain the views of more Hong Kong permanent residents than will be allowed to participate in the actual selection of that jurisdiction's Chief Executive, since that position will actually be filled by the vote of a 1,200-member Selection Committee.

Etopia News sent Dr. Chung a list of questions about this poll/election and has just received his answers, presented below:

1. Welcome to Etopia News.
2. What is the jurisdictional relationship between Hong Kong and
the People's Republic of China?
3. What is the role of the Chief Executive?
4. How is the Chief Executive chosen?
Ans. I will let you search the HKSAR Government site for standard answers to the above questions.

5. What is the background and mission of the Public Opinion
Programme at Hong Kong University? What kind of polling does it normally do?
Ans. Please visit our website at

6. Who are the current candidates for the position of Chief
Executive of the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong?
Ans. Mr CY Leung, Mr Albert Ho, and Mr Henry Tang.

7. Who will get to vote in the official election?
8. How are these voters chosen? When will they vote?
Ans. Please see the official website of the Registration and Electoral Office at

9. Why did you decide to conduct a poll to determine the
preferences for Chief Executive of the general population of Hong Kong? What purposes do you hope it will serve?
Ans. To reflect public opinion. We see it as our duty.

10. How will you conduct this poll? When will it take place?
11. Who has created the online, Internet polling/voting system
that you will use to collect the preferences of the general population?
12. Who will be eligible to participate in this electronic poll?
Ans. I guess you are referring to our "3.23 Civil Referendum"
Project. If so please click on

13. How will people identify themselves to the system?
Ans. HK Identity Card. If they vote off-site using the internet, they will need a UNIQUE cell phone number to send a confirmation SMS to us.

14. What are you doing to make sure that no one hacks into the
system and interferes with an accurate and fair compilation of the vote?
Ans. We can not be 100% fool-proof, but we are barring e-voting from outside Hong Kong. We will also report all irregularities to the public at the close of our e-poll.

15. Will you also allow people without computers and an Internet
connection to participate in the polling?
Ans. Yes, they can go to our PHYSICAL polling stations and vote onsite (via some computers).

16. Can people use smartphones to participate?
Ans. Yes, there will be Apps for iPhone and Androd smart phones. We are still waiting for administrative clearance from Apple and Android.

17. How much will it cost to conduct this poll?
Ans. Our target was to raise HK$0.5m, and we made it.

18. Where are you getting the money? Can you accept money from
outside of Hong Kong or China from people who support what you are doing?
Ans. They can log on our website at and pledge a donation.

19. What more will you be able to do depending on how much money you raise?
Ans. We will conduct a "3.21 Mock Civil Referendum" at schools on March 21, because we have raised more funds than needed to just kick off the project.

20. What is the "School Mock Voting" system that you mention on
your website?
Ans. Same as "3.23", only that all students would be required to vote onsite at polling stations set up inside participating schools.

21. What impact do you expect your poll will have on the voting
in the official selection process?
Ans. I don't know. Probably same as other random surveys which we conduct.

22. What reaction to your plans have you had from authorities in
Hong Kong and in Beijing?
Ans. Doesn't matter to me.

23. What reaction to your plans have you had from the media and
people of Hong Kong?
Ans. University students are very supportive. Many laymen have made donations to our project.

24. How many people do you expect to take part in this project?
Ans. Using government spending standards on "real" polls, each actual vote costs about HK$150. So if we can get 4,000 votes, we would be "up to standard". Since we are using e-voting, we would like to multiply the figure by 10, so 40,000 votes should be a big success.
Anything near 100,000 votes would be more than ideal.

25. Thank you for talking to us today on Etopia News.
Ans. Thanks for asking the questions.

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