Regina Ip

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, GBS, JP (Chinese: 葉劉淑儀; born 24 August 1950) is a member of the Executive Council (ExCo) and Legislative Council of Hong Kong (LegCo), as well as the founder and current chairperson of the New People's Party. She was formerly a prominent government official of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and was the first woman to be appointed the Secretary for Security to head the disciplinary service. She is also the founder and Chairwoman of Savantas Policy Institute, a think-tank in Hong Kong.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee

Non-official Member of the Executive Council
Assumed office
1 July 2017
Appointed byCarrie Lam
In office
17 October 2012 – 15 December 2016
Appointed byLeung Chun-ying
Member of the Legislative Council
Assumed office
1 October 2008
Preceded byAnson Chan
ConstituencyHong Kong Island
Chairwoman of the New People's Party
Assumed office
9 January 2011
Preceded byNew party
Secretary for Security
In office
31 August 1998 – 25 July 2003
Preceded byPeter Lai
Succeeded byAmbrose Lee
Director of Immigration
In office
1996 – 1998
Preceded byLaurence Leung
Succeeded byAmbrose Lee
Director of Industry Department
In office
1995 – 1996
Preceded byDenise Yue
Succeeded byFrancis Ho
Personal details
Lau Suk-yee

(1950-08-24) 24 August 1950 (age 69)
Hong Kong
Political partyNew People's Party
Sammy Ip Man-ho
m. 1981⁠–⁠1997)
ChildrenCynthia Ip
ParentsLau Fook-seng
Wa Choi-Fung
ResidenceBowen Road, Hong Kong
EducationSt. Stephen's Girls' College
Alma materUniversity of Hong Kong (BA)
University of Glasgow (MLitt)
Stanford University (MS, MA)

Ip became a controversial figure for her role advocating the passage of the national security legislation to implement Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23, and after this legislation was withdrawn, she became the first principal official to resign from the administration of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa. She took a sabbatical to study for a master's degree. She contested the 2007 Hong Kong Island by-election for the Legislative Council but was defeated by Anson Chan in the two-horse race. She ran again in the 2008 Legislative Council election and won, gaining a seat in the Hong Kong Island. She was re-elected in 2012 and 2016 elections.

Ip is widely known to be keen on the Chief Executive top post. She ran in both 2012 and 2017 Chief Executive elections but did not secure a minimum number of 150 nominations from the 1,200-member Election Committee to enter the race on both occasions.

Early lifeEdit

Ip was born in what was then British Hong Kong in 1950; her father was a Chinese Singaporean trader Lau Fook-seng, and mother was actress Wa Choi-Fung (華彩鳳),[1] the second wife of her father.[2] She attended St. Stephen's Girls' College,[3] after which she read English literature at the University of Hong Kong, graduating with first-class honours; she later obtained a Master of Letters degree from the University of Glasgow,[2] where she studied Elizabethan poet, Sir Philip Sidney.[4]

Government careerEdit

In the 1970s Ip joined the Hong Kong Government as an Administrative Officer.[2] In 1986, she, accompanied by her husband, went to Stanford Graduate School of Business to study for an MS in Management under the Sloan Programme.[4][5] She took various bureaucratic positions before she was appointed Director of Industry Department in September 1995.

Ministerial careerEdit

In August 1996, she was appointed Director of Immigration – a post usually filled by officials from within the Immigration Department. She was the first woman to hold the post, and continued until after the 1997 handover. While she held that post, the UK government decided to grant full British citizenship for 50,000 Hong Kong families. She was also head of immigration during the right of abode saga, when the Hong Kong government requested the National People's Congress in Beijing to intervene after the courts ruled against the government, essentially granting the Hong Kong government the ability to simply ignore the court's ruling after it granted right of abode to the children of Hong Kong residents who held right of abode whether or not those children were born in Hong Kong.[2]

In July 1998, Ip was appointed to the post of Secretary for Security[6] – again, the first woman to hold that post.[2] She became the first government minister to "declare her political stance".[7]

Ip became one of the so-called 14 principal officials and a member of the Executive Council during Tung Chee-hwa's second term in government on 1 July 2002. She was well known at that time as a hawkish, uncompromising figure in the Government, with some describing her as "a staunch, arrogant, authoritarian and yet outspoken bureaucrat."[8] As security minister, she promoted the adoption of the controversial Article 23 of Hong Kong's Basic Law. After massive public protests and the government's withdrawal of the proposed national security legislation, Ip resigned from office on 25 June 2003, citing personal reasons.

Political careerEdit

In 2003, Ip returned to Stanford University to pursue a master's degree in East Asian Studies, with Larry Diamond as her supervisor. Her thesis, Hong Kong: Case Study in Democratic Development in Transitional Society, reportedly expressed admiration for a bicameral system and suggested that political parties in Hong Kong be strengthened and be more inclusive.[9] She returned to Hong Kong in 2006. She set up a policy think tank, Savantas Policy Institute, giving rise to media speculation that she was planning to run for the office of Chief Executive sometime in the future. In September 2007, she declared her intention to run for the Legislative Council in the Hong Kong Island by-election. She apologised for her handling of the Article 23 situation, hoped to put it behind her. However, she received only 43% of the vote, defeated by Anson Chan.[10]

Legislative CouncillorEdit

Ip ran in the 2008 Hong Kong legislative election in the Hong Kong Island geographical constituency, forming a ticket including dermatologist Louis Shih and two elected District Councillors, Albert Wong and Ronald Chan. Her ticket won a total of 61,073 votes, the second highest on Hong Kong Island and the fourth highest Hong Kong wide.[11] She was sworn in as Legislative Councillor on 8 October 2008.

In January 2011, she launched a middle-class oriented party called New People's Party.[12] The party held two seats in the legislature, herself and Michael Tien, after the 2012 Legislative council election, in which Ip was elected with 30,289 votes, despite losing almost half of the votes. She was subsequently appointed to the Executive Council of Hong Kong by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying after the election, in which she served until December 2016 when she ran for the Chief Executive for the second time. Her party expanded its district base when it allied with the Civil Force in 2014. Ip was re-elected to the Legislative Council in 2016, with the highest votes of 60,760 in Hong Kong Island.

2012 Chief Executive bidEdit

Ip was known to be interested in the Chief Executive post. She expressed her intention to run in the 2012 election but dropped out on 15 December. Following a number of scandals surrounding Henry Tang, Ip re-announced her candidacy in the race on 20 February.[13] She withdrew her candidacy after failing to receive enough nominations before the deadline and thus did not qualify to stand for the election on 29 February, which made her campaign last for only nine days.[14]

2017 Chief Executive bidEdit

Ip has expressed her intention to consider running in the 2017 Chief Executive election. After incumbent Leung Chun-ying announced he would not seek for re-election, Ip resigned from the Executive Council to launch her campaign. She announced her candidacy on 15 December under the campaign slogan "Win back Hong Kong" after receiving her party's endorsement. She called for a relaunch of the electoral reform process under Beijing's restrictive framework as decreed by the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) on 31 August 2020. She also pledged to enact controversial Article 23 with "suitable measures".[15]

Ip got emotional and tear-eyed in a media gathering, "[I]n the past ten years I started from nothing, working hard bit by bit, splashing out my own money, putting in much mental and physical effort," Ip said as her voice shook. "Can you say I had not taken on responsibilities for the Hong Kong society? When I handled Article 23, I did not perform satisfactorily?" she defended herself, "I have taken responsibility under the accountability system and have already apologised multiple times. I was not shameless, I did not hold onto my powers. I stepped down from the administration. I'll leave for society to judge whether I have the guts to take on responsibilities. I definitely have taken on a lot of responsibilities." Ip's remarks came after Leung Chun-ying praised Lam for her "ability and willingness to take on responsibilities" As Carrie Lam declared her candidacy and Tsang was expected to run, political analysts said that could endanger Regina Ip's chances of getting the minimum 150 nominations to enter the race. Ip revealed that two or three electors, including businessman Allan Zeman, have turned their backs on her to support Lam.[16]

Supported by her New People's Party and a few electors from business sectors, Ip also gained a nomination from a pro-democrat elector from the Accountancy subsector, who wished to send Ip into the race to split Lam's votes.[17][18] However, as Lam aimed to grab more than 600 nominations, Ip faced an uphill battle to secure her nominations. She urged "a certain candidate" not to ask for additional backing since that person had secured more than enough nominations already.[19] Ip withdrew from the election, conceding the number of nominations hours before the nomination deadline on 1 March, for the second time after her 2012 bid. She received the number of nominations "far behind what was needed". She attributed her failure to the restrictive selection process of the 1,200 structure of the Election Committee membership as she was "squeezed out" by the Beijing-supported Lam and democrats-supported Tsang and Woo.[20]


Ip has taken controversial stances during her career including advocating for the Public Order Ordinance and defending government policy denying right of abode to the children of Hong Kong people born in mainland China since the 1997 handover.

Article 23Edit

Protests march against Article 23 in 2003

According to Ku, Ip had turned herself into a provocative political figure due to her departure from the 'institutionalised bureaucratic ritual' adopted by civil servants in the past.[21] She spearheaded the government's attempt to codify Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23, and pushed hard for it to be legislated by July 2003.[22] Between September 2002 and July 2003 her popularity plunged. In October 2002, she made a remark about Adolf Hitler at the City University.[23]

Hitler was elected by the people. But he ended up killing seven million people. This proves that democracy is not a cure-all medicine.

Ip downplayed any opposition to the bill, predicting only 30,000 people would show up at the planned demonstration(s).[24] Ip blamed political and religious leaders for creating a "herd mentality".[24] Her popularity plummeted when one remark after another contradicted popular opinion, most notably in regard to her commitment to push the bill despite the commotion and chaos of the SARS outbreak in 2003.[25] Concerned by the government's determination to force through the bill, up to 500,000 people marched to protest on 1 July 2003.

Detractors also took shots at her bushy hairstyle, nicknaming her "Broomhead" (掃把頭). This included a comic book which caricatured her in police uniform and signature bushy hairstyle. She openly admitted that although she disliked the nickname, she would not change her hairstyle just to please her critics.[26] She had knowingly put on a performance which would harm her popularity, and said "I think I would like to be remembered as somebody who was not afraid to speak out, even if that might affect my popularity."[2] Ip later said "I made a mistake in promoting the bill" and apologized for remarks she had made while pushing for Article 23.[27]

Views on democracyEdit

Ip has been criticised for her perceived inconsistent stance toward democracy. Following her return from the United States, she shifted her public position during her campaign for a seat in the legislative assembly in 2007 by saying "the only way forward for Hong Kong is complete democratization", in contrast to her position before. Todd Crowell of the Asia Times referred to her as a "born-again democrat".[9] Anson Chan, her main rival supported by the pro-democracy camp in the 2007 by-election, labelled her a "fake democrat" because of this.[28]

Views on press freedomEdit

In July 2008, Ip was once again embroiled in controversy for her comments about police tactics used against reporters covering the heated scenes in queues for Olympics tickets. In commenting about the man-handling of Hong Kong reporters by the Beijing police, she had said that "neck-shoving [techniques]... were most effective in stopping trouble-makers". The following day, she stated that she supported freedom of the press and apologised for the "slip of the tongue", clarifying that she was neither implying that journalists were troublemakers, nor endorsing the actions of the police. Democratic Party lawmaker Yeung Sum said this Freudian slip showed up her true colours.[29]

Views on Occupy CentralEdit

Ip opposed Occupy Central, and endorsed actions taken by the police against protesters. She claimed that the Occupy Central pro-democracy protesters frequently utilized smartphone apps to organize, plan, and prepare their activities. Ip specifically singled out Twitter, Google Maps, Firechat, Telegram and Zello Walkie Talkie as the apps most used by the student activists to communicate among themselves. To justify the use of these apps as evidence of foreign interference, Ip claimed that Zello Walkie Talkie was used in Taiwan's Sunflower Student Movement and the Ukraine Orange Revolution. Both student movements allegedly received assistance from external parties.[30]

Allegedly racist comments on Filipino maidsEdit

In April 2015, Ip wrote in a controversial article in Ming Pao that she had received complaints while she was Secretary for Security from 1998 to 2003, from "foreign women" in Discovery Bay that the government was "allowing Filipino domestic helpers to seduce their husbands", and was accused of being sexist and racist by many media reports. The Philippines consulate expressed its concern over the "unfortunate choice of words" by Ip. A domestic helpers advocacy group demonstrated in front of her office, calling on her to apologise. She apologised to those who were offended by her and insisted that the article was misinterpreted.[31][32]

Views on fur wearingEdit

Ip was under fire for wearing a red mink coat to a Legislative Council meeting in January 2016. She defended her clothing choice, saying that "wearing fur is actually the same as eating beef…Mink farming can be more humane than rearing chicken or cattle." She was criticised by animal rights activists.[33]

Lying about Liaison Office visitEdit

On 5 September 2016 one day after the 2016 Hong Kong Legislative Council election in which she was re-elected, Ip's car was photographed at the Liaison Office. She told Ming Pao that she was not in the car and she was sending some books she wrote to her friends there. She later admitted that she lied about it as she was requested by the other party to keep the visit confidential. She was criticised as the pan-democrats had been accusing the Liaison Office for meddling in local politics and elections. She apologised to the public and Ming Pao and denied that she was there for thanking the Liaison Office for its support.[34]

Personal lifeEdit

Ip married engineer Sammy Ip Man-ho (1935–1997) in 1981. Sammy Ip was a son of Ip Ching-ping, founder of the Ching Hing Construction Company. Sammy Ip has a sister Henrietta Ip who was a member of the Legislative Council (1982–1991). Their marriage was opposed by Sammy Ip's family.[citation needed] The couple has a daughter, Cynthia Ip Wing-yan, who was born in 1989. Regina Ip's husband died of liver cancer in 1997.[35]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 華彩鳳
  2. ^ a b c d e f Shamdasani, Ravina (17 July 2003). Ip was undone[clarification needed] by Article 23, The South China Morning Post
  3. ^ Regina Ip (2 December 2006). 'I remember being told to cultivate vices' The South China Morning Post
  4. ^ a b "Stanford Business Magazine May 2002, Volume 70, Number 3: "On Guard in Hong Kong"". Retrieved 10 March 2018.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Regina Ip a mentor to her fellow HK students at Stanford", South China Morning Post, 9 July 2006, Stanford University
  6. ^ "迎向燦爛的未來". Ming Pao. News Weekly 1810, and 19 July 2003.
  7. ^ Gittings, Danny (2017). Introduction to the Hong Kong Basic Law. Hong Kong. p. 118.
  8. ^ Ku, Agnes S. (2004). "Negotiating the Space of Civil Autonomy in Hong Kong: Power, Discourses and Dramaturgical Representation". China Quarterly. 179: 654.
  9. ^ a b Todd Crowell (14 July 2006). "'Iron Ladies' resurface in Hong Kong". Asia Times. Retrieved 27 November 2007.
  10. ^ 2007 LegCo by-election results Archived 15 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Legco election results: HONG KONG ISLAND". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  12. ^ Yan, Cathy (8 January 2011). "Hong Kong's Ip Launches Political Party". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 17 January 2011. Joining Ms Ip as deputy chairmen are former Liberal Party member Michael Tien and Louis Shih, former chairman of the pro-democracy organization SynergyNet.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Regina Ip fails in bid to join CE race". RTHK. 29 February 2012
  15. ^ "Regina Ip declares her entry into leadership race with pledge to enact controversial Article 23". South China Morning Post. 15 December 2016.
  16. ^ "Ip chokes back tears over Lam praise". The Standard. 18 January 2017.
  17. ^ "【特首選戰】提名期展開 林鄭穩握186票入閘 胡官獲零的突破". HK01. 14 February 2017.
  18. ^ "【特首選戰】民主派選委雪中送炭提名葉劉 稱欲保送入閘鎅林鄭票". HK01. 23 February 2017.
  19. ^ "Buck for Hong Kong ministers does not stop with bosses, chief executive hopeful Carrie Lam says". South China Morning Post. 18 February 2017.
  20. ^ "Regina Ip drops out of Hong Kong chief executive race". South China Morning Post. 1 March 2017.
  21. ^ "State Power, Political Theatre and Reinvention of the Pro-democracy Movement in Hong Kong" Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Staging Politics (2007), chap 10. Agnes Shuk-mei Ku, Associate Professor of Social Sciences, HK University of Science and Technology
  22. ^ Wong, Yiu-Chung. One Country, Two Systems in Crisis: Hong Kong's Transformation Since the Handover, Lexington Publishing. ISBN 0-7391-0492-6.
  23. ^ "Ip lashed on Hitler jibe", The Standard, 28 October 2002
  24. ^ a b Pepper, Suzanne. Keeping Democracy at Bay (2007). Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-7425-0877-3.
  25. ^ Carroll, John M. A Concise History of Hong Kong, 2007, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 0-7425-3422-7.
  26. ^ Li Huiling (17 July 2003). "Antony Leung, Regina Ip, former political stars now step down" (in Chinese). Lianhe Zaobao ( Retrieved 27 November 2007.
  27. ^ Diana Lee, "Slightly sorry, Regina's now raring to go" Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Standard, 28 September 2007
  28. ^ "The gloves come off in second TV poll debate", South China Morning Post, 26 November 2007. Retrieved 28 November 2007.
  29. ^ Ambrose Leung (31 July 2008). "Regina Ip 'really sorry' for siding with Beijing police". South China Morning Post. p. A2.
  30. ^ Larry Ong (1 November 2014). "Hong Kong Lawmaker: Occupy Central Protesters' Use of Twitter, Google Maps Evidence of 'Foreign Interference'". EpochTimes.
  31. ^ Lam, Jeffie (24 April 2015). "Regina Ip apologises for comments about Filipino maids in Hong Kong". South China Morning Post.
  32. ^ Kyodo. "HK politician apologizes over Filipino sex maid spat". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  33. ^ "Lawmaker Regina Ip under fire for wearing mink… and comparing it to eating beef". Hong Kong Free Press. 28 January 2016.
  34. ^ Lau, Stuart (9 September 2016). "Regina Ip admits she lied about Beijing liaison office visit". South China Morning Post.
  35. ^ Regina Ip's daughter recalls the pain of the spotlight, South China Morning Post, 27 June 2014

External linksEdit

Civic offices
Preceded by
Laurence Leung
Director of Immigration
Succeeded by
Ambrose Lee
Political offices
Preceded by
Peter Lai
Secretary for Security
Succeeded by
Ambrose Lee
Party political offices
New political party Chairman of the Savantas Policy Institute
Chairperson of New People's Party
Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Anson Chan
Member of Legislative Council
Representative for Hong Kong Island
Order of precedence
James Lau
Member of the Executive Council
Hong Kong order of precedence
Member of the Executive Council
Succeeded by
Ronny Tong
Member of the Executive Council