Chief executive contender Regina Ip has restated her support for the fur industry, despite ongoing criticism.
Ip, wearing a fur coat when attending a legislature’s session on Friday, claimed most fur products come from “farm animals” rather than endangered animals, HK01 reported. “If you think young animals shouldn’t be killed, then you shouldn’t eat young pigeons either,” she said. Roasted pigeons are a popular dish in Hong Kong.
Ip came under fire in January after voicing support for the trade, with 19 animal rights groups signing a joint statement condemning her.
The chief executive hopeful responded on Friday: “Not many people criticised me. Many people also support me. Criticism doesn’t affect me if it is unfounded, frivolous and based on misconception.”
“I bought this fur coat about ten years ago,” she added. “There is no reason for me to throw it away, don’t you think? Educated people like yourself should have a proper think over this issue.”
Lawmaker Claudia Mo, a supporter of animal rights, told HKFP that Ip was mistaken in claiming that animals raised for fur are mostly “farm animals.” Mo said there is evidence that some fur farms use inhumane practices to skin animals.
“China is the world’s largest fur exporter. I don’t know if she made the statement as a patriotic [move] to make sure that the industry would go on with its unnecessary cruelty to animals.”
She added: “We are in Hong Kong; this is not the North Pole. We don’t need fur here. It is a matter of fashion, and for some people it is a symbol of status, and that is not necessary.”
Ip claimed on Wednesday that Mo offered her words of encouragement last week after she went to Mo’s office without an appointment. Mo clarified later that she was “just being polite” and would not vote for Ip.
“The fact that she would stand firm and have guts to come to animal rights campaigners like myself to ask for support for her election, that’s quite something,” Mo said. “Even if something is positively impossible, you still give it a try – that’s almost admirable.”
“But on the issue of animal rights alone, on the fur trade issue alone, I can’t possibly support this declared candidate.”
The Hong Kong Animal Post founder Leung Mei-po told HKFP that the problem with the fur trade is that no matter whether an animal was skinned after death or killed for the purpose of fur production, “it died because of you.”
“It is a matter of supply and demand. If you reduce consumption, there will be fewer deaths,” Leung said, adding that meat consumption should also be reduced in the long run.
“Ip likened wearing fur to eating meat. But I don’t think only vegetarians are allowed to criticise you, because society is now more educated,” she said. “I believe that people… would be willing to give up on the consumption of fur and leather after seeing the cruel practice or the loss of lives because of the trade.”
“As a chief executive candidate, I think she should go back to the Stone Age – she would fit in those societies as the chief executive, but not in 2016 Hong Kong.”
Ip previously said that fur trade is a traditional and creative industry that provides many job opportunities. She urged critics to meet with fur traders to understand the production method.
She also dismissed claims that some animals are skinned alive. “Furs are very valuable. Skinning animals alive would affect [the value], so they definitely wouldn’t do that.”