By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
The latest Macau Public Confidence Index Survey Report has revealed average levels of confidence in the city’s governing bodies and media.
According to the findings released Saturday, the MPCI was listed at 59 in January, and continued to rise in the following three months. But it fell to the lowest level in May from 61.2 to 57.6, and then picked up again in June to 58.7 and climbed steadily month-to-month to 62.9 in September.
The composite index was on a 0 to 100 scale with 50 being the passing level.
Designed and conducted by the Macau Polling Research Association, the survey report summarised the statistical and analytical results of the random sampling surveys between January and September this year. A total of 9,050 local residents aged 18 or above from the Chinese community were interviewed by phone.
The report investigated the Macau Public Confidence Index (MPCI), which is made up of the Economic Confidence Index (ECI) and the Social Confidence Index (SCI), and also local people’s evaluation on the Macau Government, Chief Executive and the five principal secretaries.
The ECI is to measure citizens’ satisfaction level of the economy, personal financial condition and anticipation of the future situation, while the SCI indicates people’s prediction of social stability and confidence in social institutions and other citizens in Macau.
According to the report, the ECI grew notably during the third quarter of this year with an average score of 61.3, which Angus Cheong, chairman of the Polling Research Association said showed that the residents had become increasingly optimistic towards the local economy when compared to the beginning of the year.
In September, the ECI reported a record high with 77 percent of the respondents believing that the current economic situation in Macau was “quite good” or “very good”. As well, 63 percent of the respondents agreed that in the fourth quarter of this year, the local economy would improve further.
On the other hand, with regard to the SCI, although it remained above 60 in each of the three months during the third quarter with 63.2 in average, it was still unable to reach the average score during the first quarter of 64.
The survey also found that there were more respondents who had faith in the Chief Executive, the Macau Government, other citizens in the territory, courts and the Legislative Assembly, than those who didn’t.
In September, 79 percent of the respondents said that they trusted most of the other locals, 72 percent had confidence in the Government, 68 percent trusted the Chief Executive, 60 percent trusted the courts, 59 percent trusted the Legislative Assembly and only 53 percent stated that they believed in the Macau media.
According to Eilo Yu Wing Yat, a public administration professor from the University of Macau, public broadcaster Teledifusão de Macau’s (TDM) recent action to suspend a Chinese reporter from duty has worsened local people’s impression of the media.
“Residents’ impression on the media is already not so positive in the past, but the problems that have been exposed in recent months have worried the people even further,” he told the Macau Daily Times by phone yesterday.
The chairperson of the Macau Media Workers Association, Ung Sio Ngai, said the questionnaire was not detailed nor complete enough to find out the specific situation of the local media.
She stressed that while the public may have little trust in Macau’s media, there are still some journalists who are “very hard working and dare to speak out”.
Nevertheless, she added that the local media should think about why they failed to earn high confidence from the public.
Furthermore, Eilo Yu attributed the Legislative Assembly’s low confidence level to its “inconspicuous functions” as well as the “limited effectiveness” of the lawmakers’ work.
Tong Io Cheng, a Chief Executive-appointed lawmaker, told the MDT that he was upset by the low rating of the legislature, since the legislature “represents the people and thus should have a more positive image”.
He stressed that right now the lawmakers can only reinforce their work in the hope to boost people’s confidence in them.
Cheong U ‘the best’ secretary
The latest findings suggested that local people’s evaluation on the performance of the SAR Government, Chief Executive and the five principal secretaries was above the qualified level of 60.
Yet, Angus Cheong of the Polling Research Association pointed out that despite the result reaching above a passing score, residents still have certain expectations for the Government and officials, meaning that there is “a lot of room to improve”.
From January to September, the respondents’ evaluation of the Government fluctuated between 61.3 and 63.1, while that of Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On ranged from 57.7 and 61.5.
It was found that Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Cheong U acquired the highest rating among the five secretaries. He scored 63.2 in August and 62.9 in September.
Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen came next, with 62.0 in August and 61.0 in September. Secretary for Administration and Justice Florinda Chan was at the bottom scoring 51.6 and 52.7 respectively.
Eilo Yu said the ratings were “within expectations”, elaborating that in the past months Cheong U had frequently visited different neighbourhoods with the Chief Executive, gone to Taiwan to strengthen bilateral ties and cooperation, and was not involved in any scandals or negative reporting.
As for Francis Tam Pak Yuen, Yu said he would be “okay” as long as the local economy is doing fine.
Meanwhile, the controversial judicial aid bill and the permanent cemetery scandal have posed a certain impact on Florinda Chan’s image, the professor pointed out.
Leong Sin Man, director of the general office of the Macau New Chinese Youth Association, said the five secretaries’ ratings were consistent with other similar research studies that have previously been conducted by other associations.
Leong told the MDT that Cheong U’s policy scope is mainly related to people’s livelihood and seldom involves “sensitive topics or in-depth social problems”, and therefore residents can benefit from his policies the most.
Housing prices are to blame
Angus Cheong noted that older people, housewives, the retired and people who were having higher life satisfaction generally had a more optimistic view on the economic and social situations in Macau.
Therefore, he stressed that how to enhance the economic and social confidence of other groups in particular the employed and the middle-aged, will impose a “significant and far-reaching influence” on the overall social development in the territory.
Leong Sin Man said that although Macau’s unemployment rate has remained comparatively low, there is “long-existing discontent” in society concerning housing prices and imported labour.
She also pointed out that local youths generally were not worried about whether they could find a job, but whether they could find a “good job that matches their profession and have career prospects”.
The SAR Government has been emphasising economic diversification, but she said apart from the gaming and tourism industries or joining the civil service, the room for other industries to develop is still limited in Macau.
The public administration scholar also believed that the soaring housing prices or the heavy home mortgage burden has affected the employed and middle-aged people’s view on Macau’s economic and social situations.
“Usually the older people should already have their own properties and Macau’s social welfare is quite well, and therefore they feel more secure and confident,” Yu said.