Ip sees no need to 'wash off' Article 23
Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee yesterday said there was no need for her to 'wash off' her past over unpopular national security legislation, and denied her Legislative Council by-election campaign was facing an emergency amid a plunge in popularity ratings.
With a widening lead of 17 percentage points in a popularity poll, her main rival Anson Chan Fang On-sang said she hoped the public would know clearly which candidate represented 'real democracy' and would vote with their conscience.
As Mrs Ip canvassed in Ap Lei Chau, where she swapped her chauffeur-driven car for a crowded bus, she dismissed claims that her failure to 'wash off' her involvement in the Article 23 controversy had led to a drop in her popularity.
'I don't turn away from my past, I only learn from it,' the former security chief said.
In a debate last week, Mrs Ip was apparently annoyed at the jeering audience when challenged over her hardline promotion of national security legislation in 2003, an episode she denied was the main reason 500,000 protesters took to the streets.
Yesterday, she admitted she had appeared 'rash and not sincere enough' in answering some questions, but doubted it had affected her popularity.
'It wasn't a real debate,' she said, noting there were constraints on speaking time and that follow-up questions were barred.
On the widening ratings gap, Mrs Ip said she was not concerned. 'Popularity polls are there only for reference,' she said. A rolling survey by the University of Hong Kong found Mrs Chan's rating had risen to to 45 per cent, a 17 percentage-point lead over Mrs Ip's 28 per cent.
Asked if her campaign was facing an emergency, Mrs Ip said: 'I don't believe it is. Emergency is a term used only by the Democratic Party.'
Meanwhile, Mrs Chan met elderly people in the same public housing estate in Ap Lei Chau.
She said voters would be the best judges on whether Mrs Ip had been successful in reinventing herself as an election candidate.
She said she hoped her latest rating reflected people's choice for 'real democracy'. 'I believe this is a race of sincerity versus packaging; democratic reform versus the protection of the establishment,' she said.
The eight candidates for the Hong Kong Island seat poll on December 2 will take part in a televised debate on November 25 in Chater Gardens, Central.