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The BBC's Damien Grammaticus reports
"There are growing calls for a more thorough investigation"
 real 56k

Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
Academics quit over HK polls scandal
Opposition rally
The row could boost opposition votes in Sunday's election
Two senior figures at Hong Kong University have resigned in a growing scandal over an attempt to suppress opinion polls that showed the territory's government was unpopular.

Last week an official inquiry found the two men had put pressure on Robert Chung, one of the territory's leading pollsters, to stop conducting opinion polls on the popularity of Hong Kong's Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa.

Tung Chee-hwa
Mr Tung's popularity has been plummeting in recent months
The two men, Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheng Yiu-chung and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Wong Siu-lun, say they have done nothing wrong but are trying to protect the university's reputation.

Mr Tung, who was appointed by Beijing when it took back control of Hong Kong in 1997, denied trying to stop the survey, which showed a big reduction in his ratings.

He refused to appear before the inquiry, which was headed by a former judge.

Election countdown

Instead Mr Tung sent a close aide, Andrew Lo, a key figure in the scandal, who was described by the panel as a poor and untruthful witness.

Mr Tung is now coming under growing pressure to sack the aide just days before Hong Kong voters take part in elections on Sunday to choose a new legislature.

BBC Hong Kong Correspondent Damian Grammaticas says the whole affair has tarnished the image of Hong Kong's government and may lead to significant support for opposition candidates in Sunday's election.

In more bad news for Tung Chee-hwa, a survey published on Thursday suggests just three of every 10 voters in Hong Kong are satisfied with his government.

There have also been calls for the new legislature to hold its own inquiry into the opinion poll saga.

It would be able to question witnesses under oath and would try to determine whether the attempts to suppress the polls went to the very top and Mr Tung himself.

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See also:

02 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
HK adviser 'tried to gag polls'
02 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Inquiry into HK 'gagging' row
07 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
HK Chief in opinion polls row
01 Jul 98 | Hong Kong Handover Anniversary
Hong Kong: Who was wrong?
30 Jun 98 | Asia-Pacific
Clouds over Hong Kong anniversary
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