Security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee has described Hong Kong as one of the most sexist places in the world in her first public response to a comic book that pokes fun at her appearance. In an article in today's South China Morning Post, Mrs Ip compares a series of 'cruel' attacks on her, including the recently published comic book Broom-head, to Cultural Revolution-style abuse of female officials. The Secretary for Security said as more female officials emerged in the top levels of the Government, there were repeated attempts to attack them on the basis of their appearance. 'The worst offender is the recent comic called Broom-head, which is a cruel attack on an unnamed official - apparently intended to be me - on the basis of her appearance and in very unkind language . . . 'I am saddened not just because of the personal attack against me but because the method is humiliating to all women,' Mrs Ip said. The book was released during the Book Fair last month, with sales outstripping last year's comic parodying Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, Silly Old Tung. Broom-head ridicules Mrs Ip's policies on Falun Gong and demonstrations through a comic character. It also pokes fun at her hairstyle and body and even makes jokes about her daughter. Mrs Ip said: 'So Hong Kong has the dubious honour of being the sexual-discrimination centre of China, if not of Asia, and indeed the whole world.' She said it would not stand much chance of becoming a 'world city' if there was no tolerance of people who were different and no genuine willingness to treat women as equals. 'If our society allows this sort of Cultural Revolution-style abuse of female public officials to continue, we will be no more than a city with first-world infrastructure but third-world ethics and manners.' The book's author, who uses the pen-name Naive, and publisher could not be reached for comment yesterday. A spokesman for the Equal Opportunities Commission said the book was not regarded as unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance. The external organiser of the Association for the Advancement of Feminism, Lam Wai-ha, said the author might have treated the security chief in the same way if the job was done by a man. 'I wonder if she is making use of the excuse of a sexual discrimination issue to divert attention from her bad policies.'