Defiant Regina Ip stands by her handling of Article 23

A defiant secretary for security has defended her controversial handling of the national security laws consultation, rounding on her critics and asking: 'What have I done wrong?'

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee stood by comments about Adolf Hitler's rise to power, as well as remarks that taxi drivers and restaurant waiters would not be interested in details of the bill.

'I think looking back, of course one could always say there are ways in which we could have done better. But I can't really say that some genuine mistakes were made,' she said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

Mrs Ip said she regretted using Hitler's name during a heated public forum over the proposals for legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law. But she added: 'I don't feel my remarks are entirely without justification.'

The security chief came under fire in November for her comment during a debate at City University: 'Don't believe democracy will be a panacea. Adolf Hitler was returned by universal suffrage and he killed seven million Jews.'

Mrs Ip told the Post the remark had been seized on by Western journalists and her critics. But she added: 'Jewish people in Hong Kong - more than one - have told me they agree with me . . .

'They told me they have wondered why, given the sophisticated state Germany was in during the 1920s, and that they had universal suffrage, how could the rise of that hideous historical figure have been allowed to happen?'

But she said she wished she had not used Hitler's name as it had enabled people to attack her. It was blurted out during the kind of forum at which 'I was often one against hundreds'.

Mrs Ip has also been criticised for her remarks about taxi drivers and waiters. She said: 'It is really incredible that people could make mountains out of this molehill. I was talking about interest in the bill.

'From my experience of government, whenever we have issued a white or blue bill, rarely have we received specific comments from general members of the public other than professional or interest groups. That is a fact.'

The blue bill on national security laws is being scrutinised by legislators, and the government hopes it will be passed by the summer.

Graphic: MAU12GET