PORI releases People’s Public Sentiment Report on Anti-Extradition Bill Movement (2019-12-13)

PORI releases People’s Public Sentiment Report on Anti-Extradition Bill Movement

In July 2019, Project Citizens Foundation (PCF) commissioned the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI) to compile the “Anti-Extradition Bill Movement People’s Public Sentiment Report” to study and document the causes and effects of the movement, and the course of public sentiment development during the movement. The report can now be downloaded at PORI’s website (https://www.pori.hk/research-reports-en/anti-extradition-bill-movement-2019.html?lang=en).

Studies related to the Public Sentiment Report comprised three stages: The first stage was a territory-wide random telephone survey conducted in late July interviewing 1,007 Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong people of age 14 years or above, and the results were published on August 2. Questions covered included people’s support of the Extradition Bill, factors contributing to the governance crisis, satisfaction with the police, tolerance with violence demonstrated by protesters, how the government should respond to the protesters’ demands, as well as people’s views on the mentality of the youths. In the second stage, follow-up studies on youths were conducted in the form of two focus groups held on August 14 and 15, and one deliberative meeting held on August 24, capturing 20 and 98 young participants respectively. The results of the follow-up study were announced on September 12. In this final stage of compiling the final report, public sentiment was documented from four angles: that of public opinion polling, marches and processions, traditional media and the new media.

When releasing the Public Sentiment Report today, Robert Chung the President of HKPORI emphasized the following points abstracted from the report:

  • Starting from a small mistake, the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement has gradually developed into an anti-CE cum anti-police cum anti-authoritarian movement. The entire government has sunk into a governance crisis never seen before, and whether it will develop into an anti-Beijing cum anti-communist movement is yet to be seen.
  • Carrie Lam has clearly misunderstood symbolic meaning of passing the Extradition Bill, and Hong Kong people’s subsequent demands on her to withdraw the Bill and to investigate the police violence. To the people of Hong Kong, the issue at stake is the gradual encroachment and erosion of Hong Kong’s core-of-the-core value – freedom.
  • Most Hong Kong people actually do not care too much about what books were being sold at the Causeway Bay Books, whether Falun Gong is a subversive religion or not, and whether the co-location arrangement is a national pride or not, most Hong Kong people just want to live freely and if they have committed an offense, be trialed fairly and openly.

  • The lesson of modern history is that freedom and rule of law are best guaranteed under democratic institutions. Therefore, as the movement continued, people’s demand gradually shifted to the pursuit of universal suffrage.
  • Due to the nature of the communist regime itself, Chinese leaders may find it difficult to resolve the dilemmas of communism versus capitalism, paternalism versus egalitarianism, liberty versus responsibility, unity versus diversity, and humanism versus patriotism.

  • The Anti-Extradition Bill Movement in Hong Kong is not simply a movement of Hong Kong people protesting against a specific bill or against a local government, its police force, or even against a regime, it is a clash between liberalism versus paternalism. From 1919 to 1949 to 1989 to 2019, the history of China and Hong Kong has been punctuated by exclamation marks each followed by a semi-colon. The Hong Kong experience will provide an important reference on the future development of the world.
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