Hong Kong leadership candidate Regina Ip has apologised after she withdrew from a visit to subdivided housing at short notice in order to attend Wednesday night’s police rally in support of seven officers convicted of assault.
Ip was scheduled to meet with the Platform Concerning Subdivided Flats and Issues in Hong Kong (PCSFI) at 8pm, before visiting residents of the tiny apartments. The concern group criticised her, saying she only gave 15 minutes’ notice that she would be attending the police rally in Prince Edward instead.
The PCSFI said in a statement that it had arranged Wednesday’s meeting with Ip a month ago. They were scheduled to jointly visit residents of subdivided flats and industrial buildings in the port area of Kwai Chung.
Subdivided flats refer to apartments which have been further divided into tiny rooms – they are often home to low-income tenants. Some Hongkongers also choose to live in industrial buildings due to the lower rents.
According to the PCSFI, Ip’s assistant told the group at 7:45pm that she was unable to attend the tour. She had originally planned to attend the police rally only for a short time before departing for Kwai Chung.
“However, because the emotions of the masses were running high at the rally, she could not ‘excuse herself’,” the statement read.
The PCSFI said that the 50 local residents waiting for Ip in Kwai Chung were very angry. It added that some people had left work early and not eaten dinner, while others had come from far-away districts such as Tai Kok Tsui and Ngau Tau Kok.
Attendees defaced photographs of Ip and threw paper planes, in reference to a Cantonese slang term meaning a last-minute withdrawal.
“We expected she wouldn’t be nominated,” the PCSFI quoted one attendee as saying. “But everyone respects her, so we planned to talk to her about housing difficulties.”
Ip will need 150 nominations from the 1,200 members of the Election Committee before March 1, in order to be officially admitted as a candidate.
‘My own negligence‘
A spokesperson from Ip’s campaign office told HKFP that she received the event schedule for the rally very late, and had to withdraw from the PCSFI visit last-minute.
In a Wednesday night Facebook post, she also apologised for the incident. “Originally I thought I could go to both events,” she said. “I couldn’t foresee that the rally would start late, and that there would be many participants, so it would have taken some time to leave.”
“This truly is my own negligence… please accept my apologies.”
“Ms Ip is keeping in contact with the PCSFI,” the spokesperson told HKFP. “She hopes to find a replacement time to meet with them.”
A legislator and former security chief, Ip’s campaign platform calls for accelerating the supply of land to construct public housing. She also advocates maintaining a database on subdivided housing, in order to provide better assistance to residents.
The rally was held in support of seven police officers who were convicted of assaulting activist Ken Tsang during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests. Organisers announced a turnout of 38,000 at its peak.
Aside from Ip, the main contenders competing to be nominated by March 1 include former chief secretary Carrie Lam, ex-judge Woo Kwok-hing and former finance chief John Tsang. The small-circle election takes place on March 26.