New look, new outlook ... but same old grudges

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 October, 2007, 12:00am

Four years ago, as security chief pushing the unpopular Article 23 national security bill, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, wearing her trademark leopard-print pants, black leather jacket and dark sunglasses, fiercely defended herself in the face of barbed comments about her hairstyle.

Now, after a break from politics following the shelving of the bill and a study stint in the US, Mrs Ip has changed her outlook and her look.

She said she had been received well by many people during her canvassing. Mrs Ip, sporting a denim jacket rather than the posh outfits of the past, denied the makeover was an attempt to dilute the bad memories of voters.

'It really was the result of a lifestyle change, a change of position. In a way it was also a change of fashion. Animal prints are not so much in vogue these days. Several years ago, I just wanted to try whatever was in fashion. I have changed my lifestyle, my dress style gradually, also my hairstyle.'

But old grudges die hard.

'In some media, you see the negative campaign against me. My nicknames, my unfortunate remarks, my old cartoon pictures kept reappearing. What do you think of that? Do you think that's fair to me? Do you think that would help or hurt me? I have much more unpleasant nicknames than other candidates.'

Critics were swift to deride her 'broomhead' hairstyle, and she was condemned for pointing out that Adolf Hitler killed millions of Jews after being elected to power in Germany.

Then there was her remark that taxi drivers, restaurant waiters and McDonald's staff would not be interested in the fine details of the Article 23 bill. Her opponents said such comments reflected her view of the grass-roots public.

These are exactly the people she has been canvassing support from in her election campaign. Most people have been friendly, she said.

'When I mentioned taxi drivers and restaurant workers, I really meant no disrespect. I only tried to make the general point that in all democratic countries, it's the lawmakers who have been elected by the people and hence entrusted with lawmaker tasks.

'Unfortunately, it gave rise to some unnecessary offence. I think the people who don't like me, simply did not collect my flyers. Hong Kong people are tolerant and forgiving.'