Ex-aide to former Hong Kong leadership hopeful Regina Ip says apologises for embarrassing her
Failed chief executive candidate dismisses attack on Beijing by campaign team member and says they were his personal views
New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said her former media aide Mark Pinkstone had “apologised for embarrassing her” by branding the city’s leadership race last month “a farce” due to Beijing’s meddling.
In a strongly worded article, Pinkstone, a key member of her campaign team, had also accused the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong of violating the “one country, two systems” principle.
Ip was asked to comment on Pinkstone’s letter in a political forum on Hong Kong governance on Monday. The former security minister, who dropped out of the race after failing to secure enough nominations, said: “Mark wrote the article without telling me in advance. It was purely based on his own personal conjecture, and I have no comment on the veracity of his observations.
“The article only represents his own personal opinion. I think he obtained the information from hearsay or reading media reports. I did not tell him those things.”
Asked if the chief executive election was a farce, Ip replied: “I don’t agree – this was an exaggeration ... Mark apologised to me. I was notified by my colleague that there was this article written by Mark, we found him, and he said he wrote it in his personal capacity, and he was sorry that it embarrassed me.”
Ip dismissed two claims made by Pinkstone. On the accusation that Beijing had decided to anoint Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor as the city’s new chief executive as early as the middle of last year, Ip jokingly said: “If I knew that earlier, I might not have decided to run.”
In a written reply to the Post’s query, Pinkstone clarified that he said Beijing “decided to anoint Lam at the middle of last year” based on his own calculation, not on anyone’s information.
On his claim that she “was offered the presidency of the Legislative Council and posts in Beijing but she too declined, preferring the chief executive”, Ip said: “A lot of people suggested that I should be the president, even some of my colleagues in Legco are still telling me so, but for me there is not an issue of using anything in exchange for my [decisions on the] chief executive bid.”
In February, Ip had revealed that she rejected offers of top appointments to national bodies in exchange for dropping out of Hong Kong’s leadership race, while in December, Ip said Zhang Xiaoming, director of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, had once asked her to be Legco president.
She said on Monday that no Election Committee member had told her that they were asked by the liaison office not to nominate her.
Ip also explained that she hired Pinkstone as the chief information officer of her campaign team “to proofread English press releases”, attend meetings with non-Chinese-speaking Election Committee members, and coordinate interviews with overseas media.
“But our contract expired already,” she said.