The popularity rating of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has sunk to 24.6 points out of 100 – the lowest since the 1997 handover, due to the city’s three-month political crisis.

Between August 15 and 20, Lam’s rating fell by 3.3 percentage points to 24.6% from 27.6% two weeks ago, according to the Hong Kong Public Opinion Program.

This latest gauge of public feeling is the lowest ever when compared to all previous chief executives. Prior to the furor over changes to the extradition bill, Lam’s rating was 43.3% in early June.

Only 17% of individuals who gave feedback expressed a vote of confidence in Lam, down from 30%, while those who gave her a vote of no confidence rose to 76% from 72%.

Her net approval popularity – the difference between the vote of confidence and that of no confidence – fell to -59% from -51%. That is another record low since Lam became chief executive on July 1, 2017.

Survey after airport drama

The popularity survey was done after more than 500 flights were canceled when tens of thousands of anti-extradition bill protesters staged a five-day occupation at Hong Kong International Airport between August 9 and 13.

Lam’s rating had already reached a “scary” level and may further decline as she maintained a tough political stance in a media briefing on August 27, Chung Kim-wah, an assistant professor of Social Policy, Social Welfare and Community Development at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said.

Lam had the responsibility to try to resolve political conflicts in society, but she has chosen to give speeches that had provoked the public, Chung said.

After protesters rallied peacefully on August 17 and 18, Lam announced that the city government would set up a communication platform on August 20 in a bid to open a dialogue with the public. However, she was accused of only inviting dozens of pro-establishment politicians and academics to join the meeting.

Lam Tai-fai, a member of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and also a participant in Carrie Lam’s communication platform, said it was unrealistic to expect that the Hong Kong government could open a dialogue with the public without doing anything first.

He said Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, Secretary of Justice, should step down to show accountability for the extradition bill chaos.

On August 26, Carrie Lam met a group of pro-Beijing youngsters in a meeting behind closed-doors and said the Hong Kong government could not set up an investigation into the political saga due to strong opposition from the police, several Hong Kong newspapers reported, citing a sound clip of the meeting.

The statement deviated from Lam’s official line that there was no need to set up an investigatory commission because the Independent Police Complaints Council had been probing incidents during the protests.

Lam’s office said her remarks at the meeting on August 26 on views of the police mentioned in media reports were statements of fact and not related to the stance of the government.

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