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Anson Chan

I paid price for Article 23, says Regina Ip

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2007, 12:00am

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Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee yesterday questioned how many people who had criticised the controversial shelved Article 23 national security bill had 'actually looked at it', while admitting she had paid a price for promoting it when she was security chief.

Mrs Ip also said people should compromise rather than support her main Legislative Council by-election rival Anson Chan Fang On-sang's universal suffrage proposal, which she said sought change only by claiming 'moral superiority'.

Speaking during a lunch at the Foreign Correspondents' Club, Mrs Ip said she had paid heavily for promoting Article 23. She has since apologised for angering people with her hardline approach.

While conceding that she had had to stay 'away from home for three years' in the United States following her resignation in 2003, Mrs Ip defended herself when asked if she had been given a bad bill to promote.

'I wonder how many people who criticised the bill have actually looked at it. I will leave it to people who may have time now to really study all the detailed clauses to think again about its substance,' Mrs Ip said. She said her reform proposal, which has been criticised for containing a mechanism to vet out dissidents, would be more acceptable to Beijing than Mrs Chan's universal suffrage proposal.

Mrs Ip has proposed requiring candidates for the chief executive election to receive support from all quarters, including Beijing loyalists and businesspeople, if they are to run for election in 2012. Mrs Chan has called for free universal suffrage by 2012.

'I think most Hong Kong people are realistic. You can't make things happen just by claiming moral superiority. You have to make sure your package as a whole is acceptable to people other than the pan-democrats,' she said.

Mrs Chan said Hong Kong would not forget how 500,000 protesters demanded universal suffrage and opposed Article 23 in 2003. She urged the public to demonstrate their democratic aspirations with their votes.

Speaking after meeting grass-roots women's groups, she said universal suffrage was desirable because everybody should have the right to take part in an equal and open election without any candidates being unfairly vetted. In her blog yesterday, Mrs Chan urged the public to vote in the district council elections on Sunday with the July 1 spirit.