Better educated and richer Hongkongers are unhappier with the government's handling of the coronavirus outbreak than the poor, a survey commissioned by the Post has found.
Dissatisfaction with the government, especially over its protective equipment procurement and immigration measures, was greater among the better educated and more well-off, according to the poll conducted by the Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey at Chinese University.
Regarding the government's work in securing enough masks and other protective equipment, while 68 per cent of respondents in general were unhappy, the dissatisfaction rate among those who had tertiary education was as high as 80.7 per cent.
Among those earning HK$40,000 (US$3,220) to HK$59,999 a month, 79.1 per cent were disgruntled, and 78.1 per cent of those earning HK$60,000 or more a month expressed dissatisfaction.
By comparison, only 48.2 per cent of those who earned less than HK$15,000 a month, and 53.9 per cent with an education background of Form Three or below were unhappy about the government's protective gear procurement efforts.
A similar pattern could also be seen in the disappointment with the government's border control measures, where 71.6 per cent of those who have tertiary education or above were not satisfied, but only 44 per cent of respondents with qualifications of Form Three or below expressed dissatisfaction.
Among those earning HK$60,000 or more each month, the dissatisfaction rate was as high as 69.5 per cent, but only 37.8 per cent of those earning less than HK$15,000 were unhappy over the restrictions.
Professor Clement So York-kee, who was involved in the opinion poll as a member of the university research team, said this could partly be because the better off were most exposed to policies such as the travel ban and dealing with family members returning from abroad.
"Hong Kong's middle and upper-class also like to travel abroad and go out to eat. These people also have to take care of their families and pay their mortgage," So said.
"But those low-income families could be living in public housing and receiving social allowances already, so it's understandable that they were less angry with the government."
So also noted that, when asked whether the outbreak had made them more eager to leave Hong Kong, 20.3 per cent of those earning less than HK$15,000 said yes, while it was higher, at 26 per cent, for those earning HK$60,000 a month.
"Those people are better educated and have the resources to move away," he said.
But former legislator James Tien Pei-chun, honorary chairman of the pro-business Liberal Party, believes the better educated and more well-off should be more eager to stay in the city as the pandemic had been getting out of control in Europe and North America.
Tien argued that the high-income earners' anger had little to do with their travel plans or children returning from overseas.
"They don't want to travel any more, and their children have come home," he said. "They just feel that with the amount of tax they paid, the government has to be doing better than that."
Tien said the dissatisfaction among those earning more than HK$40,000 was concerning.
"Many of these people are managers in private companies or owners of small enterprises, they used to be the carefree silent majority who are not interested in politics," he said.
"But they have become very unhappy about the city's governance since the anti-government protests broke out in June last year."
Joseph Wong Wing-ping, a political commentator and former secretary for the civil service, said that as the well-educated were more able to compare governance between Hong Kong and neighbouring regions, it was more likely they would blame the indecisiveness of the administration.
"Hong Kong was always been several steps behind Macau, Taiwan and Singapore in measures to contain the virus spread " from securing mask supply and closing borders to mandatory quarantine measures," he said.
Wong also said city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's decision to criticise frontline medical staff for going on a strike to urge border closures had disappointed professionals and civil servants, and further eroded their trust in the government.
Dr Edmund Cheng Wai, an associate professor at City University's department of public policy, said it was worrying to see the support base of the government narrow to low-income and less-educated individuals during the coronavirus outbreak.
"The government should consider structural reforms promptly to alleviate the distrust stemming from the months-long anti-government protests and compounded by the incompetence in managing the pandemic," Cheng said.
"Otherwise, it will continue to face huge obstacles in governance and future elections."
Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.Artikel Asli