Regina cuts hair critics down to size

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 12:00am

Regina Ip said she would not be able to safeguard Hong Kong's security if she failed to defend her own hairstyle, which has been the subject of political satire.

The security chief - who described Hong Kong as probably the most sexist place in the world after critics attacked her appearance - said yesterday everyone should have the freedom to make their own choices and that hairstyle was a personal matter.

'Different people have different views. You may have your opinions but you cannot interfere with me. How can I safeguard Hong Kong's security if I cannot defend my hairstyle?' she said during a radio programme on Metro Finance.

She continued her defence by criticising a pottery figure, recently modelled after her by political cartoonist Zunzi, as an insult to all women.

The 15cm figure has hair made from thin iron wire, wears a blue uniform and animal-skin underpants.

Zunzi, who also has made pottery figures of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, President Jiang Zemin and other male officials, said: 'I'm not discriminating against women. I treat men in the same way.

'The underpants were a metaphor to describe her as an aggressive person, both publicly and privately. I don't think her hair has any problems. I think it suits her quite well.'

Mrs Ip's pottery figure, which cost $7,999, was sold last Saturday during an exhibition of 26 of Zunzi's pottery items at the Pottery Workshop in Central.

In a newspaper article published in August, Mrs Ip compared a series of 'cruel' attacks on her, including the comic book Broom-head which poked fun at her hair and appearance, with Cultural Revolution-style abuse of female officials.

Mrs Ip said she respected freedom of expression, but opposed any kind of sexist work and malicious personal attacks and hoped there would be no more such 'bad taste' creations.

Describing herself as a 'lightening rod for controversy', Mrs Ip said her candid character and the nature of the issues she handled often made her the centre of controversies.

'If the issues you handle are controversial, such as those involving sovereignty, it'll be very sensitive. People will say you're shoe-shining,' Mrs Ip said.