Lawmaker Regina Ip has distanced herself from an opinion piece written by a former election media aide about the chief executive election.

Mark Pinkstone – who was chief information officer for Ip’s leadership campaign – wrote in a comment piece published by HKFP on Sunday that the chief executive election was controlled by Beijing’s organ in Hong Kong – the China Liaison Office: “The whole election protocol is a farce.”

Regina Ip (centre) Mark Pinkstone (second from right). Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

Pinkstone said that Ip had no knowledge of him writing the piece, and that his words represented his own thoughts and were not necessarily the view of anyone else connected with her campaign.

“Mark wrote the article without telling me in advance – it was only based on his personal conjecture, and I have no comment on the veracity of his observations,” Ip said.

Ip said Pinkstone had apologised to her for putting her in an “embarrassing” situation.

Beijing interference 

Pinkstone wrote that the Liaison Office had “clearly violated” Article 22 of the Basic Law which stipulated that no Chinese authorities under the central government may interfere in Hong Kong affairs.

Ip said she believed there was room to interpret the article in different ways.

“For instance, the arrangements of an election held by the Registration and Electoral Office are, of course, under our autonomy. But the appointee for chief executive must, of course, have a high level of trust from the central government – it is not a violation of the Basic Law for [Beijing] to say who can be supported and who cannot,” Ip said.

Chinese Liaison Office. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Pinkstone, also the former government chief information officer, wrote that Beijing decided in mid-2016 to “anoint” then-chief secretary Carrie Lam.

Ip disagreed: “If I knew I wouldn’t have run.”

Pinkstone also wrote that phone calls from the Liaison Office or associates were made to every member of the election committee instructing them to nominate Lam over Ip.

“I believe he read many reports from the media. No [electors] told me that,” Ip said, adding that some sectors’ electors have to follow the voting preference of the groups they represent.

“Surely, it is not easy to find the best way for the central government to express [its choice], whilst maintaining its sovereignty and not affecting Hong Kong people’s trust in the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle.”

Job offers

In the article, Pinkstone asserted that Ip was offered the presidency of the Legislative Council and posts in Beijing by the Liaison Office, but she declined.

In response, Ip said many people were asking to be the president: “But for me, there was no case of offering me something in exchange for the chief executive election run.”

Monday’s front pages. Photo: HKFP/Tom Grundy.

Asked why Pinkstone chose to describe the election as a “farce,” Ip said it was his own personal opinion: “I do not agree with this remark.”

She said Pinkstone was not a member of her New People’s Party and he was invited to the campaign team to help her fix English in her releases. The contract between them has ended, she added.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.